Fairport Central School District

Tibetan Buddhist Monk visits Fairport High School

The Venerable Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk and visiting professor at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, spent time recently at Fairport High School constructing the Mandala of Compassion, an ancient Tibetan art form made of millions of grains of dyed sand.

This event was hosted by the students in the social studies department elective Religions of the East, and financially sponsored by a FACET Teacher Grant. The sand mandala – a complex, symbolic representation of the cosmos used as a tool in meditation and visualization in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings – was built over the course of two weeks and concluded with a dismantling ceremony – sweeping up the sand and pouring it into the creek near campus.

Students in the FHS course Religions of the East study the central beliefs and practices of Buddhism. Specifically, Tibetan Buddhism is a type of Buddhism that focuses on living a life of compassion for all sentient beings. Tenzin Yignyen was ordained in 1969 by H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama and has traveled the world building sand mandalas of peace and compassion in an effort to help others gain a compassionate perspective in their lives. 

“The project allows the entire Fairport community an opportunity to meet someone from another country whose life’s mission is to create a culture of compassion and understanding for all beings,” said Social Studies Teacher Gayle Rachford. “Considering his international reputation and the importance of his work, we are excited in sharing the opportunity to celebrate and practice compassion for humanity.”

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