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Sacred Sound: The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Tomorrow night, the monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will culminate four days of ritual practice at UNM’s Center for the Arts with a performance at Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell NE). That upcoming event is a reminder to me, and an opportunity for you, dear reader. It’s been nearly 20 years since I trekked through the Kingdom of Mustang, on my way to the Thorung-La Pass. Though I never quite made it—distracted by altitude sickness and a lodge in Muktinath that featured electric lights, flush toilets and Bon Jovi posters—I had many opportunities to engage the local culture.

I found the ritual music and dance of the Tibetan Buddhists in the area to be more than just fascinating. It was a deluxe experience, at once otherworldly and deeply human, and by turns frightening, calming and transcendent. In the intervening years, the traditional arts of Tibetan Buddhism have gained much recognition in America, mostly due to the continuously joyful touring of certain monastic representatives, tasked with both preserving and maintaining a culture that has richly elaborate and intensely transformative qualities. The coming week’s activities begin with the construction of a sand mandala on Wednesday and end with a once-in-a-lifetime tour-de-force that includes nine sonic pieces designed to engender peace and healing tomorrow evening. Observation and participation in the mandala ritual is free and open to the public, but the performance begins at 8pm, and tickets cost between $20 and $44. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Sat May 31 • 8pm • $20-$44 • View on Alibi calendar