Interview with Losang Samten by Anne Doran and Frank Olinsky | WINTER 2019
"For more than two decades, Losang Samten has spread lessons of interdependence in the West through Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas.
Artist and Buddhist teacher Losang Samten was born in Tibet in 1953. In 1959, following Communist China’s occupation of Tibet, his family fled to Nepal. They eventually resettled in India, where Samten later entered Namgyal monastery. After receiving the degree of geshe in 1985, he served as personal attendant to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama before moving to New York City in 1988. He has been making sand mandalas at institutions across the United States for more than 30 years. In March, Anne Doran and Tricycle contributing editor Frank Olinsky sat down with him to talk about his work.
When did you learn to make sand mandalas? In 1969, I was one of a group of young monks selected to train in traditional Tibetan religious rituals at Namgyal Monastery, His Holiness’s monastery in Dharamsala, India. The older generation was dying, and there was an urgency around preserving the culture. We were taught ritual dance, ritual music, butter sculpture making—everything. And for four summers starting around 1970, some of us learned to make sand mandalas..."
We are a non-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to sharing the Dharma with the community of El Paso and the surrounding area. Our mission is to stimulate the cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness based on the philosophy and methods taught by his His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Losang Samten and his family fled Tibet in 1959 to Nepal and later moved to Dharamsala, India in 1961. Losang studied at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and later joined the Namgyal Monastery where he earned a Master's Degree in Philosophy and Debate in 1985. He also became a scholar of the Sutra and Tantra teachings, a ritual dance master, chief artist of sand mandalas displayed throughout the United States, and served as a personal attendant for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Losang moved to Philadelphia in 1989 and is the Spiritual Director of several spiritual centers in North America.
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