Making a Sand Mandala at MOCTA
as a Monk – a Lhabri – an Artist – a Founder of the Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art
I was ordained with the name “Tashi Norbu” by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche who is considered to belong to the legendary sacred Sky Dancers of Tibet”.
I was inspired by Rinpoche, in my whole life, thus I paint the Sky Dancers or the Flying Monks and Nuns.
These are my “Time Travelers” depicted on my paintings. I was ordained as a Thangka Painter, by the previous reincarnation of Bokar Rinpoche.
I am a monk and I engaged myself into the path taught by the Buddha, meditating and putting Buddha’s teachings and words into practice.
As the eldest son of the family, being familiar with the idea of monkhood, I had to accompany my two younger brothers at their age of 8, into monastic life in Tibetan Monasteries of India. Tashi’s life from 4 years, until his 18, was spent in Tibetan Monasteries in India and Bhutan, where he was ordained; being intensively taught Buddha’s doctrines and philosophy, he also followed a general education.
From 19 to 25 years of age, he was studying Art at Monastic environments, such as Sherabling, the residence of the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche, Founder of the 17th Karmapa who was recognized by HH Dalai Lama. Tashi had wonderful conversations with Tai Situ Riponche regarding Art, as Riponche was also a Painter, yet he issued a book over his contemporary Art.
“I was inspired by Rinpoche, in my whole life, thus I paint the Sky Dancers or the Flying Monks and Nuns. These are my “Time Travelers” depicted on my paintings. I was ordained as a Thangka Painter, by the previous reincarnation of Bokar Rinpoche”. Tashi says.
He was also painting along with other Tibetan Thangha Painters in the Monastery Tai Situ Rinpoche dedicated until now, to the Art of painting Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
During his monastic life, he was teaching monks english language reciting together with them Buddha’s doctrine and share daily monastic life with them.
Those times, he was also working as a Thangka Painter under HH 14th Dalai Lama’s residence.
Tashi recalls his mother’s family story that his grandpa, was going once a week into trans and into another dimension, in order to serve those beings who were lost in “Bardo”; He was always telling Tashi “one day you will be a Lhabri” (he who paints gods).
The famous “Time Travelers” are Artist’s monks flying into the sky beyond time and space. (Mural 4,50 x 1,50cm)
Tashi’s name “Tashi Norbu” was given by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche
Tashi at his 25 came to the West, where he became a contemporary Tibetan Artist. He blends the traditional with the modern. Yet, he teaches how to achieve enlightenment and the Buddha hood, through his Tibetan mandra lounges, his life painting performances, his meditation and creations of sand mandala, which he had learned in the monasteries.
His paintings are filled with magical tales, colorful imagery, presenting valuable insight into the living quality of Tibetan Buddhism .
Tashi has been fascinated by making recitations, being so creative at his “Tibetan Mantra Lounge”. Tashi was meditating along with his audience, viewers and art lovers, finding in this way the calmness of the inner self. And he travels to the four continents, reciting Tibetan mandras, giving live painting performances, creating sand mandalas as well as tattooing the sacred tibetan art on skin, based on the individuals’ astrological chart.
Later in the years, Tashi followed Tulku Yeshi Riponche who gave Tashi the name “Karma Choeying Tashi”.
Being engaged in Buddhism, transmitting to the world his artistic activities, painting Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, he is giving live painting performances, participating in festivals with his Sand Mandala creations, and Tibetan Mandra Lounges. He gives workshops on how to make a Buddha, with the intention to benefit human beings, with the purpose of art as a communication means within the higher realms. Thus, making at the same time the unique ethnic cultural Tibetan Art and confirming the dominant tropes of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, where the practice in Buddhism is part of Tibet’s cultural heritage and asset.
Tashi is a Tibetan Buddhist Monk due to his strong belief that this is a unique way to walk on this path as an Artist. He is willing to offer through his Art; in order to deepen people’s understanding and help them realize their merits and virtues. For, his paintings touch the mind, the consciousness. Through his depictions he talks to the world and explains his Artworks with reference to the Buddha’s teachings and theories. Determined to live a life entirely devoted to the goal to help all sentient beings to overcome their sufferings that inherently exist inside them and cope with their general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena.
A life that carries a deep responsibility of self and others and lots of sacrifices in order to become a Buddha and get enlightened.
A meaningful and worthwhile way for Tashi to spend his life being of benefit to his environment and talk about the preservation of the Tibetan Art and Culture into the world. Hence, the Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art, in Emmen, The Netherlands.
A place where West meets East; where his Live Painting Performances along with Tibetan mantra lounges empower his paintings and transform them into a true embodiment of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; where the traditions, rituals, philosophical view draw inspirations; and here is when Artist’s mind clicks, devoted to compassion and endless services to others.
Tashi Norbu was named as “Karma Choeying Tashi” by H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche who also paints along with him, advises him and supports him.
H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche has received teachings from over forty masters and he has authored fifteen books on subjects of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. He moved to Seattle in 2002 and has taught Buddhism and Tibetan culture around the world since then. His gripping autobiography, A Modern Liberation Odyssey, Handbook for Half-Buddhas and Tibetan Zen are available.
Lama Tashi in his life, has been very much supported by females, in the forms of motherly, sisters or dear ones. Further more he supports the equalities and rights of women in Tibet and monastic world, concepts, that we still are lacking behind; however, lately HH Dalai Lama had noticed this difference and for first time it was HH who gave the rights for nuns to receive Gheshe (PHD) degree. In this way female (nun) masters are given equal rights to teach and attain the similar seats in the Tibetan Buddhist Schools.
Tashi’s painting “The Tibetan nun” in a meditation posture, from the Museum collection.
The Artist and the Monk says that in his life has been very much supported by females, in the forms of motherly, sisters or dear ones.
He also supports the equalities and rights of women in Tibet and the monastic world.
Lama Tashi’s activities are between US and the Netherlands where he founded the registered Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art, the only one worldwide. His paintings are exhibited in numberless galleries all over the world and Museums; as World Museum Rotterdam Netherlands , National museum of Tropical Art ,Tropen Museum/ Netherlands , European Parliament House Strasbourg /France, Royal Museum of Ethnology Leiden Netherlands /Belgium, Pitt Rivers Museum/Oxford UK. In U.S., collateral Art event of Anniversary Trace foundation with MOMA Museum of Modern Art NY, Rubin Museum NY , Wyoming Art Museum, Tibet House Museum / Gallery New York. His sculptures 15ft height, made out of waste materials such as wood plastic waste, and established in Chicago, Encinitas, Gandhi Musuem Bihar/India and Emmen/the Netherlands are sending messages across the globe on environmental awareness. He participated in the spiritual Musical Yoganadance on 22 in LA (nephew of Yoganada from the autobiography of a Yogi) with some of best musicians as Myron McKinley from Earth, wind and Fire, while he performs at spiritual Musical Events, as he did in Carnegie Hall in New York, June, 2023. A film by Beenu Rajpoot talks about the Lama and art featuring Lama Tashi Norbu.