Buddhist monks enlighten students about path to brighter future

The yak-herder and the yak give a dance performance as part of the presentation given by the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation to the teens at the Division of Youth Services Tuesday morning. The monks will visit a variety of locations in the Grand Valley this week.

When Jangchub Chophel was growing up in California, his family did not have blue toilet water or take trips to the park on a Sunday afternoon.

He often wondered how a person acquired such luxuries, never knowing that love was within his heart and that blue toilet cleaner was sold in the grocery store.

“I just never knew that I could have a regular life,” Chophel, a Buddhist monk from the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation told teens at the Department of Youth Services Tuesday morning.

He told the audience that all they had to do to change their own lives was to ask themselves “Why am I here? What is the purpose of this place on my life? Where do I want to go?”

Chophel said they should think hard and realize that no matter what brought them into the facility, it was within their power to create a different and regular life for themselves.

“Your dream and your life is all right here. The only thing that separates the person you are from the person you want to be is the actions that you take to get there,” he told the teens.

Chophel, a light-hearted and funny man, was not the kind of person many of the teens thought a monk would be.

“We’re no different than anybody else,” he said, “we are working hard to change attitudes, compassion, caring and we think about the meaning of life.”

The audience was in awe of the lifestyle choices the monks had made, asking questions about diet, celebacy, and for their thoughts on God and creation.

Chophel did his best to give straight forward answers. The purpose of a monk’s life, he explained, was to “benefit all human beings.”

The youth presented the monks with handmade pens, something each teen within the facility learns to make as part of their rehabilitation program. The monks gave the facility officials white scarves, or khatag, as a symbol of friendship. The facility also made a donation to the monastery.

The monks will be at a variety of locations this week including the Riverside Multicultural Community Center, the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, and a visiting session with the community at the downtown Farmers Market.

A complete list of events and tours is available at http://www.gadenshartsecf.org or by calling 260-1645.

The monks will also create a Manjushri Sand Mandala at the Center for the Arts. It will be released into the Colorado River at Eagle Rim Park on Saturday.



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