RIGPA'S STUPA PROJECT
A Dedication to Peace and Prosperity in the World
– UPDATE 20 MARCH 2023 –
Following the advice of our masters, Lerab Ling, Dzogchen Beara and Berlin have started to prepare the building of a stupa that will contain countless relics of Guru Rinpoche, Jigme Lingpa, Longchenpa, Patrul Rinpoche, Do Khyentse, Dudjom Rinpoche as well as those of Sogyal Rinpoche and Mayum Tsering Wangmo.
A stupa is an architectural manifestation of the enlightened mind that symbolises the different qualities of Buddha-hood. A stupa is consecrated, not as a structure, but as a living enlightened presence, benefiting beings by creating the cause for good health, peace, prosperity and harmony in the environment.
Each stupa will have the qualities and power to liberate on sight, planting the seeds of liberation in the mind stream of all beings human or otherwise who encounter it so that they will gain higher states of rebirth and ultimately bringing them to enlightenment, regardless of their connection and motivation.
It is said in the scriptures the benefits of building stupas, symbolising the enlightened mind of the Buddha, are truly incalculable and has the power to eliminate obscurations and accomplish the accumulations of merit and wisdom.
When a great teacher dies, it is customary to build a stupa where he or she has been cremated. This is usually done soon after the cremation and not widely shared so as to not create any obstacles. As we know Sogyal Rinpoche was cremated in Tashiding (Sikkim) and we were so fortunate to be able to build his stupa right beside his beloved teacher Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. However, when Covid hit the world in 2020 and no one could travel for many years, it was only possible to actually build this beautiful stupa in the beginning of 2023.
THE BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING IN BUILDING A STUPA
Tulku Rigdzin Pema Rinpoche, who, in the Nyingma tradition, is regarded as a highly accomplished master in stupa building, will oversee all the preparations of each of the stupas. Tulku Rigdzin Pema is a very special lama, a hidden yogi, who spent decades alongside His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He is also the one who oversaw the construction of Khandro Tsering Chödrön's Stupa and the inner stupa that is being built in the Nirmanakaya in the Lerab Ling temple.
On 16 December 2022 in Lerab Ling, Tulku Rigdzin Pema performed the consecration of the ground where the stupa will be built, followed by consecrating the ground in Dharma Mati on 29 December. These are the first steps of these incredible projects…
Participating in the construction of the stupas by helping as a volunteer, integration retreatant or by making donations or attending one of the ritual activities with an altruistic resolve to benefit all beings, is said to bring boundless benefits for one’s self and others for many lives to come.
SYMBOLISM OF THE SHAPE OF THE STUPA AND ITS CONTENT
The shape of the stupa represents the Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire; his head is the square at the spire’s base; his body is the vase shape; his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace; and the base is his throne.
The construction of the stupas is a spiritual task dedicated to peace in the world. Tulku Rigzin Pema, our monastic and lay-sangha as well as many volunteers have already started with preparing the many spiritual materials that are needed to fill them.
Millions of mantras, thousands of tsa-tsas, the Kangyur and Tengyur (sacred texts that have the intrinsic power and invoke peace), specially prepared mandalas that liberate upon site, collected writings and works of the Nyingma lineage masters, precious jewels and semi-precious stones, precious herbs and substances are being prepared in Lerab Ling.
Every stupa will become a place of pilgrimage and provide support for the practice of prostrations, offerings and circumambulations. All stupas will be consecrated, not as a structure, but as a living enlightened presence, and therefore brings blessings not only to its location, but also to the world.
There are eight shapes of stupas representing the eight great events of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. The Great Enlightenment stupa will be built in Lerab Ling while Dzogchen Beara will build the stupa of the Descent from Tushita Heaven and Dharma Mati will build the All Victorious Stupa. All main Rigpa centres will be able to have a replica of Lerab Ling’s Great Enlightenment stupa in the future.
TIMELINE AND COSTS
Building these three stupas will take one-and-a-half to two years, why? The main stupa in Lerab Ling will be almost 11 metres high and made in granite by a company in Portugal specialised in carving detailed stupas of which many have already been produced throughout the world.
The costs of production of the Lerab Ling stupa, as we are aware of at this moment (March 2023), will be around 290,000€ and we can order the stupa as soon as we have the money for the down-payment which will be around 96,000€. At this moment we do not have a complete overview of the costs of transport and assembling but we hope to update this page as soon as we know more.
To create a stupa that size will take around 12 months to build. After that, the parts will be transported to Lerab Ling and a big crane will put the stupa together on the north lawn along with all the accompanying rituals associated with each phase.
The Berlin and Dzogchen Beara stupas of around 6 metres high, will take around 9 months to produce and we don’t have the costs for building yet. Similar to the Lerab Ling stupa, they will be transported from Portugal to Berlin and Dzogchen Beara and assembled there.
THE PRACTICE OF MAKING TSA-TSAS AND ZUNG
Meanwhile in Lerab Ling the Monastic and lay-community, integration retreatants as well as volunteers are working on the zung (sacred mantras), tsa-tsas, gathering of relics, scriptures and carving the chokshying (central pillar or axis of the stupa) etc. that will go into the different stupas.
To guarantee the high quality and keep the costs as low as possible, the Stupa project team decided that all tsa-tsas and zung would be made centrally in Lerab Ling and sent it to all countries who will have a stupa.
The plan is to hold retreats in Lerab Ling focusing on the practice of making tsa-tsas and its many benefits. It is said that making tsa-tsas purifies obstacles, accidents, and sudden diseases. By making tsa-tsas we pacify inauspicious circumstances, accumulate merit, purify obscurations, and achieve the resultant three kayas in a future life.
To be continued…