In the evening we attended our first event on Emory University Campus, Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music and Sacred Dance for World Healing performances. The show was about two hours long and consisted of Drepung Loseling Monks chanting (multiphonic), dancing and playing various instruments. The performance is endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and produced by Richard Gere ... no, seriously) as a means of promoting world peace and healing through sacred performing art
On a side note: I wasn't at the venue more than 10 minutes before I already ran into someone from Pittsburgh.
As we were approaching the venue, looking around for a line, etc., a woman standing by herself smiled and offered info that the doors to the place had just opened and that they were letting people in. She mentioned that she was waiting for her niece to return from taking her camera to the car since they were not allowing any photography within the place. We talked for a bit then said goodbye and as we turned to walk away I saw a familiar face walking towards me, pointing and saying, "That is my Aunt you are talking to! How do you know her?!" Here it was a friend from Pittsburgh, wondering how it was that we were talking to her Aunt out of the blue like that ... my friend and I had known that each of us would be down in ATL for the events but made no prior contact to meet up or anything. Great synchronicity that we would run into each other that way.
Here is what we saw:
First Performance (1 Hour):
1) Nyen-sen: Invocation of the Forces of Goodness
In a tapestry of instrumental and vocal sounds, the monks invoke creative awareness within themselves and the audience. They enhance the spirit of goodness in the environment as a prelude to the performance of Sacred Music Sacred Dance.
2) Man-del: Purifying the Universe
As they sing in the multiphonic style typical of Drepung Loseling's dominant role at the annual Monlam Chenmo Festival, the monks create a world as seen through the eyes of inner perfection. This is sent forth as an offering for world healing and is symbolized by the raising of a silver base on which mounds of rice are poured in a geometric pattern.
3) Sha-nak Gar-cham: Dance of the Black Hat Masters
This ancient dance for the elimination of negative energies and hindrances is in the style known as drak-po, or "wrathful." The implements held by the dancers symbolize the transcendence of false ego-identification on the outer (the environment), inner (the emotions), and the secret (thesubtle body-mind link) levels. Their movements symbolize the joy and freedom of seeing reality in its nakedness.
4) Tak-tsey Tong-ya: Intense Encounters of the Third Degree
A demonstration of the tradition of Tibetan monastic inquiry. Two monks engage one another in a process leading to the deeper levels and implications of spiritual experience, thus enhancing the mind of enlightenment.
5) Seng-geh Gar-cham: The Snow Lion Dance
In Tibet the snow lion symbolized the fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind. When a healthy and harmonious environment is established by the creative activities of human beings, such as through the performance of sacred purification and healing music, all living beings, here represented by the snow lion, rejoice.
Second Performance (40 minutes)
1) Dur-dak Gar-cham: Dance of the Skeleton Lords
To remind the world of the ephemeral nature of all things, and of the liberating and balancing impact of an awareness of this reality, two monks appear as the forces of goodness manifest as Cemetery Lords. These are Dharmapala, or "Protectors of Truth," with the message to point the mind toward authentic being.
2) Ten-trul Yul-tru: Purifying the Environment and Its Inhabitants
Chanting in the multiphonic tradition, the monks hold up a mirror and draw into it the reflection of the world and its living beings. They then purify these through sound and meditation, as symbolized by the act of pouring waters from a sacred wisdom vase over the mirror. Traditionally this piece was performed whenever an environmental, social or individual healing was required.
3) Kha-dro Ten-shug Gar-cham: Dance of the Celestial Travelers
Five dancers, symbolizing the five elements and five wisdoms, together with three musicians, invoke the sounds and movements of the Celestial Travelers, the mystical beings from another world whose blessings strengthen the forces of life and light. These beings visit our world in times of stress and danger, bringing with them the creative energy that inspires harmony and peace.
4) Sang-tsol Zhi-jo: Incense Offering & Auspicious Song for World Peace
The monks send forth the smoke of incense, which the wind carries into the ten directions as a subliminal force invoking peace, harmony and the ways of creative living.