Standing room only

The sound is multiphonic to disguise the sacred words and is also slowed down to help the monks concentrate on mental images during the prayer, Chophel said. All praying is done out loud and the monastery is a noisy place, he said.

"They say all their prayers out loud ... so this chanting evolves from saying these prayers out loud," Chophel said.

But the monks find plenty of time for learning, too.

"Our monastery is not merely a place where we pray and meditate," Chophel said. "Our monastery and monasteries of our tradition are known as educational facilities. We have a 20 year college program - 20 years, six days a week."

The audience was enthusiastic about the visitors, giving them several rounds of applause and plying them with questions until they had to leave.

"I thought it was fantastic," said Andy Babiak of Camillus. "I thought he was a great speaker, and they're not putting on an act ... this is what they chose to do."

The tour will be providing more of its sacred chants, this time with dance, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 in Onondaga Community College's Storer Auditorium. The event is two hours long and includes an intermission. Tickets are $20 and available online at the monks' website, gadenshartsecf.org/events.

Chophel encouraged all who are interested to attend.

"It's an incredible experience to see a culture that's been hidden behind the Himalayan Mountains," he said.

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