Profile: Losang Samten

Losang Samten

Photo Credit: PWPP

Tibetan Buddhist monk and sandpainter.

Losang Samten was born in Ribuce Chang, Tibet in 1953. In 1959, he escaped with his family to Nepal and then to Dharamsala, India where many exiled Tibetans, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, lived. He attended the Tibetan Institute of the Performing Arts and later the Namgyal Monastery. He became a Buddhist monk in 1967 and was the ritual dance master of the monastery. He also became the personal attendant to the Dalai Lama and was chosen by him to demonstrate the spiritual art form of sand mandala painting in the West. In 1989, Samten moved to Philadelphia and became the founder and spiritual director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. Other centers followed, including ones in Texas, Connecticut, New York, and Nevada. Samten gave up his monastic vows in 1995 and became a lay practitioner. In 1997, he worked on the Martin Scorcese film Kundun as religious technical advisor, sand mandala supervisor, and actor. He continues to travel extensively, teaching and demonstrating his Tibetan Buddhist spirituality by creating sand mandala paintings in public spaces. 

Losang Samten sandpaints the Mandala at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Losang Samten talks about his early years and his family’s flight from Tibet.