More on Monks

**Tenzin Choegyal is a traditional Tibetan musician. He currently lives in exile in Brisbane, Australia. This is his first visit to the United States.** How did you become involved in music? “The reason why I got into music is from the imprint left behind by my mother’s singing. I haven’t attended any music school, so my motivation was mostly her singing. When I play, I kind of close my eyes and go into a space of my own, and I try and forget that there is an audience in front of me.” What motivates you to raise money for the Tibetan Children’s Village? “Any child of a nation is the future seed of the country. And for me, I grew up in that community [at the Tibetan Children’s Village]. A lot of the things that I do now, I learned from that school. I find it very important for other Tibetans to get a good education, so that’s why I think it is important to help the school. And it’s not really a job for me. I enjoy doing my singing, so I get to benefit myself at the same time because I get to enjoy singing while doing the Compassionate Mandala Tour and raising money for the school.” **Tenzin Chokrab entered the monastery at the age of 12. This is his first visit to the United States.** Could you explain the mandala you are building? “Here we are building a mandala of the compassion deity. There are five different Buddhas in this mandala…By creating a mandala here, we hope that compassion will spread out in the world.” Why was it important to bring these Buddhist ideals to the places of your tour? “It is not only a Buddhist thinking. Compassion and love, all of this, everyone needs compassion and love, be it Christian or Hinduism. Everyone wants compassion and love. So we spread out these thoughts so that they will spread to everyone else.” **Lobsang Kunga entered the monastery at the age of 15. This is his second visit to the United States.** What is required of you when you join the monastery? “First we have to cut our hair, change our robes and then get vows – then you can be called a monk. Then, we started to learn chanting, building a sand mandala and Buddhist philosophy.” What are these Buddhist philosophy classes? “Philosophy mostly means to find reality, to train your mind. You can discuss with other monks and try to find reality. The main point is to find peace and compassion.” What do you think of the US? “The only difference is that it is a little bit cleaner, many more cars, and people seem very busy. Outwardly, it is much better, with good roads and good cars, but only small differences like this. In India, there is no need to be busy like here. All people are smiling.” Why is this tour important to you? “It is important because what we are showing now is what we are trying to preserve in India. These are chances to show our culture.” **Tenzin Samten entered the monastery at the age of five. This is his third time in the United States.** Why did you become a monk and join this monastery? “When I was five years old, I became a monk. I was very happy to become a monk. It’s not easy to join [the Namgyal] monastery. It’s a very different and special monastery. This is the highest monastery in Tibet. In [other monasteries], I was not able to learn mandala and music. In His Honor’s monastery, I can learn many, many things: Buddhist philosophy, sand mandala, culture dance and culture music like the longhorn or symbols.” What is your impression of Andover? “Andover is amazing. Here I saw very good facilities and very nice teachers. I am very excited to come here; I really enjoy it…I hope to learn many things from these students, and I hope these students learn many things from me in exchange.”