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Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on October 23rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 33

Tibetan monks bring Buddhism to El Camino students

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM


CULTURES COLLIDE:
Jaime Lopez, a seventh-grade student at El Camino Junior High School, got a writing lesson on Tibetan symbols from Geshe Gedun, a monk visiting the Central Coast from the Drepung Goman Monastary in India.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

The strange, guttural sounds only throat-singing can make formed the base of a Buddhist chant about wisdom led by Tibetan monk and chant master Geshe Chophel in front of El Camino Junior High School world history students on Oct. 17.

It was part of a quick lesson on religion three monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India shared with Lisa Muetzel’s two classes of seventh-graders that afternoon.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to meet people from another part of the world and another faith,” Muetzel said.

She added that part of world history is learning about the way people behave, and religion often shapes those behaviors. The monks who visited Muetzel’s classroom are part of a larger group traveling around the United States to share cultural traditions and philosophies.

In addition to chants, students learned about the monks’ everyday lives and studies, and made their own prayer flags, which the monks call “wind horses.”

Students drew the saying “Om mani ped me hung” using Tibetan symbols on paper flags. Though it’s not an exact translation, the saying means “pure jewel of the lotus flower.”

“Through chanting, each word has power,” explained Geshe Lobsang Tsetsen, who led the lesson. “All together it becomes purity, becomes good.”

He told students that each symbol has a deeper meaning: a jewel is thought to have wisdom because of its age; the lotus flower is something that everyone likes, and therefore it doesn’t discriminate and has tolerance; and purity is held in body, mind, and speech.

Seventh-grader Esmeralda Rodriguez said it was a good opportunity to learn about another culture.

“I think this is really neat that the teacher took time to arrange this for us,” Rodriguez said.