The Tibetan lamas of South India make their first visit to northeastern Pennsylvania to demonstrate their art, music and dance the belief of the living moment.
Keystone College in LaPlume presents the 7th annual event known as The Gathering, a thematic conference rich in imagination and creativity, where people of diverse backgrounds explore the sciences and arts of different cultures through workshops, lectures, performances and discussions. This year’s theme is “The Art of the Living Moment,” based on a Buddhist practice of living in the present.
Suzanne Staples, a scholar and resident of Keystone who has planned seven years of the program, said “we wanted to do a theme on how transience motivates us and how it enhances our creativity.”
Due to this mindset, Keystone College has invited world-renowned artists to speak and present at the three- day event, including the Tibetan lamas of Drepung Loseling Monastery, located in southern India. The lamas have lived in exile since 1959 under constant pressure of the Chinese government, which resulted in the Dalai Lama fleeing the Tibetan capital under threat of the army. However, with the help of the Lackawanna County Library System and The Gathering funding, the endeavor of bringing the lamas to the area was possible to share their music and dance, as well as the creation of a mandala, a sand painting. Because the monks do not speak English, a Tibetan will be present to translate, as well as describe all music and dance pieces.
The opening ceremony will have the lamas consecrating a space to create the mandala and will be worked on throughout the event with the closing ceremony seeing them sweep their creation into the Nokomis Creek that runs through the campus, symbolizing the transience of everything; creating then destroying. The lamas will not sweep the entire mandala into the creek for environmental purposes; most of it will be bagged up and given away as souvenirs.
Also speaking at the workshops will be Diane Ackerman and Ilya Kaminsky, who will feature creative writing and poetry, respectively. Ackerman has written more than two dozen works including “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” “Natural History of the Senses” and finalist of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize “One Hundred Names for Love.”
Kaminsky, who hails from the former USSR, is author of “Dancing in Odessa” which has won numerous awards including the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award and Whiting Writers Award. Staples said about Kaminsky’s poetry in particular, “he reads so beautifully, you really need to hear it to appreciate it.”
The Gathering will take place from July 18 to 21 and runs all day Friday through Sunday, with registration and the opening ceremony taking place Thursday. All events headlining the Tibetan lamas are free and varying fees apply to all other workshops.
“This is a special event to have these people in our area. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the Tibetans, especially since this in their first time in northeastern Pennsylvania and not many people know of their situation,” Staples added, encouraging all to attend.