The entire community within and around Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Conn., this week will enjoy an uncommon opportunity to learn about another culture, in a manner relevant to the treatment milieu. From Aug. 16-20, the addiction and psychiatric treatment facility will host a group of Labrang Tashi Kyil monks from Tibet as they visit the U.S. to raise funds for their monastery back home and to raise awareness of their culture and religion.
Sigurd Ackerman, M.D., Silver Hill’s president and medical director, says the monks will stay in one of the hospital campus buildings and will meet with patients and staff, as well as with the greater community in an organized event scheduled for Aug. 18. Ackerman believes everyone in the Silver Hill community can find special meaning in the visit because the Tibetan culture offers similarities to the values that are emphasized every day in the hospital’s clinical program.
“It is compatible with concepts we use such as mindfulness and patience,” Ackerman says.
He says Silver Hill learned about the monks’ U.S. visit because a local civil engineer with whom the organization has worked, Curtis Jones of the firm Civil 1, is a supporter of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Ind., an organization that is devoted to preserving Tibetan and Mongolian culture.
Ackerman says the hospital is directly contributing funds to the monks’ effort to raise money for their monastery. While visiting the hospital, the monks will deliver talks on subjects such as “Compassion and Components of a Virtuous Life” and “Taming of the Mind and Four Noble Truths.”
What likely will serve as the most memorable event during their stay will be the monks’ construction of a traditional sand mandala, a multi-colored design drawn from millions of grains of sand poured from metal funnels. The monks work in unison to create the intricate work, but once it is finished and a viewing takes place, the mandala is ritualistically destroyed. This is meant to reflect the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.
“This is part of their belief in the need for community cooperation, but also that whatever we do is not permanent; it goes back to nature,” Ackerman says.
Ackerman added in a news release from the hospital, “In today’s fast-paced, click-through, turbulent world, the teachings from the monks about spirituality, mindfulness and compassion are particularly important.”