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Woodstock, NY has a distinction of being a Mecca for artists, as well as heaven for holistic and spiritually oriented people. As such, it is home to the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery located on Meads Mountain Rd.

One day I am planning on traveling to Tibet, but until then, why not explore a cool piece of Tibet, located practically in my back yard.

The official name of the monastery is Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) and it is the North American seat of His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa. Founded in 1976, the monastery features the traditional teachings of the Kagyu lineage of the Tibetan Buddhism, who’d been teaching spirituality and mediatation since the 10th century. The Monastery is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, just above Woodstock.

The Monastery has a number of monks and it hosts meditations, discussions about spirituality and higher consciousness, retreats and other events.

Recently it welcomed  the Dalai Lama, as well as the Holy Man, Gyalwang Karmapa.

Monastery’s outer gate.

The inner gate.

The outside of the monastery.

Fu Dogs protecting the building.

Colorful Tibetan prayer flags are everywhere, surrounding the monastery with benevolent energy.

Tibetan symbols on top of the meditation building: 1. Wheel of life; 2. Stupa; 3. Victory banner; 4. Fruits of abundance; 5. Kalachakra.

Entrance into the mediation hall, painted with traditional Tibetan frescoes.

If you think this is beautiful, you aint seen nothin’ yet! The actual meditation hall is absolutely amazing. A WOW amazing! As someone who collects Asian art, I can totally attest to that! I was sooooo ready with my camera to snap those pics left and right. I was practically drooling! But… the very nice monks politely asked not to take any pictures inside the sacred space. Anyone is welcome to come in and meditate, but no photography is allowed in the meditation hall. So, I went in and sat on one of the pillows. I closed my eyes and meditated for a while. How I wanted to whip out my camera and snatch just a couple of pics of the magnificent Buddha statues towering at 25 feet, of beautiful thangkas and offerings! No one would see me do it, if I was really fast, would they?

But then, I thought of those monks and the trust they put in me, I thought of something intangible that I could distinctly feel in that room. What was it? The presence? Higher conscience?

As a result, my camera stayed in my pocket. I got up and went around the hall, taking in every statue, every piece of art and absorbing the atmosphere. After that, I exited the meditation hall, put my shoes back on and went outside without taking any pictures.

So sorry, no pics of the monastery’s most awesome room. But there are plenty of the rest. Enjoy :)

Inside the main building. Notice the floor? This beautiful design is called the mandala. It looks like a flower, specifically a lotus, and symbolizes harmony.

Ah yes, Thangkas… A thangka is a very special art form, particular to Tibet. They are painted by Tibetan Buddhist artists on canvas, using vibrant colors and oftentimes real gold paint. Nedless to say, because of that, they are awfully expensive.

The stroke is exquisitely fine; thangka’s design is usually very intricate, with lots of amazing images arranged in a very structured way around a main image of Buddha, Tara, Avalokiteshvara, or another diety.

The canvas is usually framed with silk brockade and can be hung on the wall, creating a striking senterpiece for any space. However, when not in use, thangka can be rolled up, like a scroll, thus taking up very little space. This to me symbolizes a very Buddhist notion of “traveling light through life.” I collect thangkas and can’t stop admiring the amazing artistry of their creators.

A very interesting fact about thangkas is that despite being truly unique masterpieces, the artists don’t usually sign their names on their creations. It is believed egoic and inapropriate, as all art and creation belongs to God.

Philosophical paintings by Karmapa:

Awakening from slumber.

Inquisitive mind – genuine wisdom.

Dance of illusion.

The thunder dragon.

Union of mind and wisdom.

Pics of the Dining Hall.

The monastery has an extensive shop where one can buy very high quality Tibetan insense (I shop exclusively there), as well as thangkas, Buddhist devotional items, statues, books and other art. It is pretty awesome. Here are some of the images:

The monastery has been conceived as a fully sustainable, green project. Caring for the Earth and all its beings is an integral part of the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice.

Solar panels on the monastery roof.

The monastery is still under construction. They are looking for donations and additional funding.

If you are interested in donating, please visit their website: http://www.kagyu.org/

This is part 2 of my post: A Cool America: Woodstock, NY. Check out part one here!