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Tibetan Monks in Gold Country | Paradise Found

Over the weekend I took they boys and a friend of theirs to a youth summit with a group of Tibetan Monks who are in town. Before the workshop started, we had a chance to watch the monks working on a sand mandala. It’s absolutely incredible – if you ever have a chance to see a sand mandala in progress, go! They work with long, narrow, metal cones that have a hole in one end to release different colors of sand. The image is amazingly intricate. I didn’t think to bring my camera, but here’s a look at the construction process (Our monks didn’t wear funny hats. Matter of fact, one was wearing a Nike shirt under his robes, which my kids thought was funny).

During the youth summit, kids had a chance to ask questions. I was taken aback at the angst in the room. Teens asking about stress, depression, death – I remember the angst of being a teen, but it’s not something I see a lot here. I don’t know if that’s because I have boys or because our homeschooling lifeĀ  eliminates some of those issues.

One of the responses really hit home. A girl of about 15 asked about handling stress, and after questioning, it turns out that much of her stress was about school. The answering Monk was great. He asked her if her test scores or grades in school would really matter in 100 years. They may be important at that moment (and maybe mostly to the teacher and parent!) but in the big picture, not so much. And he discussed the fact that some subjects just are not that interesting to some people – boring even! – and it’s not the worst thing in the world to get a lower grade in a subject that’s of no interest. He also touched on finding that one thing that makes a person come alive, that subject or hobby that really makes a spirit sing. His suggestion for finding that? Try lots of different things. Have lots of experiences.

That sounds like it’s just shy of a ringing endorsement for unschooling, don’t you think??


  1. by Shelly, on January 12 2009 @ 5:58 am


    I love the monks. I listened to them speak once at Gold Oak School and then when they were in town a year later, at Cozmic Cafe. I was so inspired by their philosophy of life and their internal peacefulness. Wouldn’t hurt the rest of the world to try their way, I think. :) They are always learning and studying too! My form of unschooling was quite a bit more relaxed. :)

  2. by debra, on January 12 2009 @ 1:34 pm


    We saw the dismantling of a mandala a few years back.What an amazing and mindful process! I hadn’t thought about it for a while—thanks for sharing your experience. And for sharing the wisdom of the monk.

  3. by M, on January 13 2009 @ 12:32 pm


    There is a wealth of wisdom there!

  4. by Rambling About the Doldrums and Crises of Faith « The Outer Edge of Normal, on January 16 2009 @ 5:59 am


    [...] still fertile. There is time and space to delve into new things, which creates the opportunity to find the thing that really makes one’s spirit sing. It’s hard to see this when Marty’s biggest passion is video games (I have to enforce [...]

  5. by Sunday Morning Rambles, Rants & Record-Keeping « The Outer Edge of Normal, on February 1 2009 @ 5:15 am


    [...] And when it boils down to it, isn’t finding that spark of passion — that thing that makes your soul sing — one of the most important things we want for the kids we love so madly and [...]

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