Behind the scenes with the Mystical Arts of Tibet

This fall, Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery engaged in a week-long residency on The College of Idaho campus as part of a Caldwell Fine Arts performance. Most notably, the group created a sand mandala painting in the Langroise Foyer. Amidst the awe-inspiring throat singing, the beating of drums, and a lot of time spent playing with colored sand, C of I student reporter Austin Kirkham had the opportunity to sit down and ask a few questions to one of the monks, Geshe Loden. Click here to check out more photos from the monks' visit to Caldwell.

How has your group enjoyed its time in Idaho?

It has been very good. Everyone has been very welcoming; many people are visiting [Langroise] to see the mandala. Our monks are also staying with host families and they have been kind as well.

I saw some photographs of monks on motorcycles this past week. Sounds like everyone is having fun.

Yes, there has been quite a lot of fun. Some of our monks were invited to eat apples from an orchard with their host family, others did indeed get to ride motorcycles. I, myself, spent a lot of time walking around the campus.

Have you enjoyed what Idaho has to offer?

Yes, it is very mountainous. It is not so mountainous at our temple in Georgia. We had heard about the famous potatoes and had the chance to try them this week. We had French fries, with fry sauce. It was very fun.

Where else have you been in the United States?

Our tour takes us through much of the country. Monks that are a part of the tour agree to a year going across the country. This is my second time; I have visited many states in that time.

What do you think of life in the U.S.?

In the day-to-day lives here, everyone seems to be doing so many different things. There is not a moment to pause—it is very oriented in one direction. It is important to pause, and I am very happy that the site of our mandala seems to be a place where people can pause for a moment and participate.

What do you think is important for visitors to understand about the mandala?

The word mandala, of course, is a Sanskrit word which translates to cosmogram. The mandala here possesses what is known as the Buddha of compassion. The destruction of the mandala serves to remind us of the impermanence of all things in life. We consecrate the mandala and bless its sands before the destruction of it.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit