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Posts Tagged "holy objects"
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THE HOLY OBJECTS OF FPMT
All photos courtesy of Pamtingpa Center
On a smaller scale than the Maitreya Projects and the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, dozens of FPMT centers, projects and services have built or are in the process of creating their own stupas, often representing a true community effort. Each one of these stupas brings FPMT closer to realizing Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s wish to build 100,000 stupas around the world. (To learn more, visit the FPMT Stupa Fund page.)
Pamtingpa Center, a small center located in Tonasket, Washington, US, shared with Mandala their story of building a stupa, demonstrating that even when resources seem limited, it is possible to do it. You can read their story online. Here are photos of their progress over the last year. (Click photos to enlarge.)
For more on stupas, visit FPMT Education Services “Stupas: A Resource Guide” and see Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s recently published translation of “Padmasambhava’s Instruction on Offerings to Stupas.”
By Ven. Robina Courtin and Kate Macdonald
Most people reading this magazine, especially if we’re involved in Dharma centers, are literally surrounded by holy objects: photographs of our lamas, paintings of buddhas, holy words on prayer flags, stupas on our altar. How lucky we are! With every glance we are inspired and reminded of our potential – and effortlessly create inconceivable merit.
As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, “An incredible amount of merit is created just by seeing a Buddha image. Normally it would take eons to create so much merit.”
People practicing in prison understand this too. But in such institutions, where restrictions on what an inmate can possess are severe and poverty is pervasive, even the smallest item is so hard to come by. The things that the unincarcerated don’t give a second thought to, the incarcerated treasure beyond belief. At Liberation Prison Project we are so moved by their reports: A copy of one of Lama Yeshe’s books was “worn thin” from having been read by scores of people; just seeing Lama’s face on the cover of a book “saved my life;” a book retrieved from the trash in the chaplain’s office helped someone climb out of despair. …
“The moment holy objects such as statues of Buddha are completed on a rock, painted on paper with a brush and colors, taken with a camera, or printed on paper from the negative with chemicals, etc., the moment a holy object materializes, it becomes a field of merit, like a field of crops, for sentient beings.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Objects become “holy” when they contain the presence of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech or holy mind. There are several ways in which to engage with holy objects. You can make offerings, prostrations and circumambulate the holy objects that already exist, you can create holy objects that become future sources of blessings and pilgrimage to others, and you can also help sponsor a holy object initiative with volunteer time, money or prayers. Holy objects can even be used to benefit animals! Although animals may have a difficult time with making offerings, you can always help them to circumambulate; give them a nice gentle bonk on the head with your stupas, statues and tsa-tsas; or recite mantras for them.
All of these activities, when in relation to a holy object, become incredibly powerful acts of virtue. …
By Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Every time you look at holy objects – pictures of the Buddha, statues, scriptures, stupas – they plant the seed of liberation and enlightenment in your mental continuum. So every time you look at them they purify your mind. How? When you look at them they plant a seed or positive imprint on your mental continuum so that later when you meet Buddhadharma, either in this life or in future lives, you are able to understand the words and the meaning of the teachings. From that, you are able to practice the meaning of the Dharma you have understood, which causes you to cease the gross and subtle defilements by actualizing the path and then your mental continuum becomes omniscient mind. This is what is meant when we say that by seeing holy objects it plants the seed of enlightenment on the mind – it contains the whole path from guru devotion and the three principles up to the two stages of tantra and enlightenment.
Every time we see holy objects it purifies so much negative karma, so many defilements. This is because of the power of the holy object. It’s like an atomic bomb – even though it is small it can bring so much harm and cause so much destruction. That example is negative but what I am saying is that the material has power, like electricity. The material of an atomic bomb has the power to harm and destroy the world. The material of holy objects – statues, scriptures and stupas – has the power to affect our mind, to leave a positive imprint.
There are five paths to achieve enlightenment and the first is the Mahayana path of merit. Within that are three levels: small, middle and great. As soon as your mind achieves the great level of the path of merit then wherever you are, whether you are in a holy place or in the toilet, anywhere, you see numberless buddhas around you. Numberless buddhas are always there but we just don’t see them because our minds are so obscured. When you reach that level you will actually see uncountable buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect wherever you are. Then, when you reach the right seeing path, you become an arya being and you can see numberless buddhas in sambhogakaya aspect. This explains the quotation that “even if you look at a drawing of Buddha done on a stone wall out of anger it causes [one] to see ten million buddhas.” …
Holy objects have been central to Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s work since their early days teaching Westerners at Kopan Monastery, established by the lamas as the Nepal Mahayana Gompa Center in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, in 1969.
The main building was constructed in 1971-2.
Lama Yeshe’s friend, Jampa Trinley (father of Yangsi Rinpoche, Ven. Tsen-la, et al.), donated three statues for the gompa: Lama Tsongkahapa and his two disciples, Khedrub Je and Gyaltsab Je. The walls of the meditation hall were modestly adorned with a few thangka images of deities, and a framed photo of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama.
When the first meditation course was given there in 1971, it was attended by about twenty Western students. By the time of the seventh course, held in the autumn of 1974, interest was so great that attendance had to be restricted to 200 eager students, the limit of the local facilities. By 1975, twelve centers had been established, nine of them outside of India and Nepal. Lama Yeshe identified a need for “an organization to keep this together.” And thus, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) became an official organization in 1975.
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche firmly established FPMT’s relationship with holy objects in
1976 when the first statue of FPMT, a substantive three-foot (one-meter) tall Tara statue, was obtained and brought to life at Kopan Monastery. …
THE HOLY OBJECTS OF FPMT
By Su Ianniello, Pamtingpa Center spiritual program coordinator
Pamtingpa Center is a small FPMT center in Tonasket a small town in north central Washington state in the Unites States. The high desert is hot in summer, cold in winter, with vast, open landscapes. Pamtingpa Center has land on which our first plan was to build a gompa. A few years ago, Lama Zopa Rinpoche came to the land. As we were all leaving, Rinpoche turned and looked out over the mountains and said, “A stupa here.” That’s how our stupa building project began.
Then Yangsi Rinpoche came to visit us. We asked Rinpoche to locate the spot for the stupa. When we were on the land, Rinpoche slowly, calmly took a walk, and lingered in one area for a while. This was the spot. Then he led us in a beautiful ceremony at the new stupa site.
We were still trying to figure out how complete the project two years later. When Lama Zopa Rinpoche came back to town, he told us to build the gompa first, giving us some funds to begin this new project. However, a few weeks after Rinpoche left, we got a message to go back to the stupa project, using the funds for the gompa. These were some good lessons in flexibility.
At this point, we were determined to make it happen. Ven. Yarphel [John Jackson] was back from retreat in India and New Zealand and willing to show us how to build a stupa. He quickly became project manager with Gary Davis, Bruce Corrigan and Reed Engel assisting. Both Gary and Bruce are involved in Native American practices. Bruce said the reason he wanted to take part was because he saw the stupa as something that would help heal the planet.
Getting to Work
Drawing plans and making many lists were some of the first things we did. One of the concerns was funding. With Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s generosity, we were well on the way, but how many yard sales and Christmas bazaars would it take to build a stupa? Someone said, “Don’t worry, just make up your minds to do it and the funds will come.” And they did! Amaaazing. One person’s mother passed away and left an inheritance. The timing was fortunate for the project. Others put in what they could. We also had a matching fund drive which encouraged people to donate in the moment we needed it most. Things were falling into place.
When the day to break ground arrived in early spring 2013, Ven. Yarphel and Gary followed directions to determine the exact place to begin digging, referring to the three stupa books produced by FPMT Education Services which were enormously beneficial throughout the whole process. Then Ven. René Feusi came down the hill and led the earth blessing ceremony. At the conclusion, we dug the first level of earth.
The ingredients to fill the three chambers of the stupa made up one of our many list. We circulated this list, and people chose the items that they would be responsible for. As we were collecting these items, we realized the need for a place to store them. Keith Kladnik allowed us to fill up his new shop, which delayed his moving into it.
Thanks to Ani Fran at Kopan Monastery and her patience, we were able to get the gorkhim (the big frame on the front of the stupa), lotus and rings, many of the rolled mantras, and incense from Nepal.
There were many other mantras to roll so we had a mantra rolling weekend at a nearby lake. The fog rolled in and clung to the lake, misty and cold. Walter Wipfli came from Bend, Oregon, to help. We hugged the fireplace and rolled into the night.
Almost every weekend, from spring, through summer and into fall of 2013, we had a work party. Sometimes there’d be one or two people, and sometimes a dozen.
A typical work party began with Ven. Yarphel coming over and loading the generator with Gary. Bruce would already be up at the site doing some prep, and Reed would meander in and work hard. Cars would drive the bumpy road with clanging dishes, steaming pots, ice chests and thermoses, delivering an essential ingredient: food. This may seem like a minor aspect of the project, but it wasn’t. A well-fed crew was fundamental in keeping the energy going.
Since there’s no water on the land, we’d pump it up the steep hill from Julia Sanderson’s place into a tank. Then the water would be gravity fed to the site.
Concrete was mixed in a mixer that was powered by Gary’s tractor. We used the tractor’s front-end loader to hoist the concrete to the stupa and pour it into the wooden forms. Sometimes when the tractor wouldn’t reach, we used buckets. Ven. Yarphel was directing from the top. His diligent effort was inspiring.
Harry Sutton came and worked hard. One time, on the last cement pour of the day, he pulled the lever to empty the concrete into the bathtub. All the concrete went into the tub, and then the concrete mixer broke off the tractor and rolled downhill. It was good timing as we finished the concrete work just as winter arrived.
When it was time to fill the upper chamber, we were not sure where to place some of the mantras. Ven. Chosang chimed in just in time. We took pictures of the mantras and she sent them to Ven. Tsering. He told us what mantras they were and where they should go.
A key to the progression of the project was not taking some weekends off. We saw that if there were a few focused people, willing to do whatever it took, then progress happened. It was delightful and hard work.
The Life Tree
When we were wondering where to find the center pole for the stupa, a fragrant life tree, Pamtingpa student Life Has Meaning, happily offered a cedar tree from her land, two hours north of Tonasket. She and Bill were so generous, giving the tree, the truck and finding a place for us to stay. We found the tree in one day, made offerings and prayers. Sleeping under the open sky, we were to watch our dreams that night. The sky was clear and spacious. In the morning we all talked about our experiences of the night and decided to cut the tree. We made more offerings and the tree was cut with a bow saw. We cleaned off the tree’s limbs, which were dried and some being used as incense for filling the chambers of the stupa. In spring 2014, once the tree has dried, it will be cut square down its sides and many mantras will be drawn on it.
Decorations, gorkhim, rings and painting will be added to the stupa in the spring and summer to bring the project to completion.
Besides the regular crew, we were fortunate to have the help of many. Big thanks to everyone who joined in, we are grateful.
For more photos from the stupa building work parties, see Photo Gallery: Pamtingpa Center Builds a High Desert Stupa.
Su Ianniello is a student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Yangsi Rinpoche and serves as spiritual program coordinator for Pamtingpa Center. She lives in Tonasket, Washington, and has a valid base to be merely labeled environmentally minded.
THE HOLY OBJECTS OF FPMT
By Francesca Sala
In May 1996, in a small town in the Sahara, Morocco, famous American director Martin Scorsese and his Italian crew began to make a film – Kundun – about the life of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
With shooting in India and Tibet out of question, Scorsese and his production team decided that Morocco would be where they recreated the landscapes of the Tibetan plateau. When they arrived in the town of Ouarzazate, there were only two small hotels, a main street and plenty of dusty, unfinsihed houses. With this raw material, they created movie sets to represent where His Holiness was born and grew up.
In 1999, the large statue of Chenrezig that had been created by Dante Ferretti, the film’s Italian production designer, to help recreate the Potala Palace was brought to Italy to be part of an installation in Milan at Rotonda della Besana named “Tibet: Art and Spirituality.” The installation occurred during His Holiness’ visit to the country as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
By 2012, the statue had made its way to Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Pomaia, Italy, and was displayed in the main square to awestruck residents. The giant sculpture, almost eight meters (26 feet) high, had lost some of its initial splendor as its last months in the Atlas Studio in Morocco had damaged its brittle polystyrene body. However, the extraordinary potential of the statue was clear from the beginning.
Last summer, we began a restoration project to prepare the statue for permanent display as a holy object. The ILTK restoration team decided to cover the statue with resins and fiberglass, an experimental technique not usually employed in sculpture, but rather for building boat hulls. In this way, the hope is that it will withstand the sun, wind and rain for many years. As a part of the work on this sacred symbol of perfect compassion, the polystyrene hands and steel core are being reshaped; damage is being repaired; clothing, jewelry and the iconic deer skin are being cast anew.
ILTK’s hope is that in June His Holiness will have the opportunity to bless the statue during his visit to the center.
You can find more information on the Chenrezig statue project on Facebook.
Participate in the restoration: http://www.iltk.org/it/progetto-cenresig-partecipa-al-restauro
“Every time you look at holy objects – pictures of the Buddha, statues, scriptures, stupas – they plant the seed of liberation and enlightenment in your mental continuum. So every time you look at them they purify your mind. They plant the seed of enlightenment, which includes all the causes to achieve enlightenment. How? When you look at them they plant a seed or positive imprint on your mental continuum so that later when you meet Buddhadharma, either in this life or in future lives, you are able to understand the words and the meaning of the teachings. From that, you are able to practice the meaning of the Dharma you have understood, which causes you to cease the gross and subtle defilements by actualizing the path and then your mental continuum becomes omniscient mind. This is what is meant when we say that by seeing holy objects it plants the seed of enlightenment on the mind – it contains the whole path from guru devotion and the three principles up to the two stages of tantra and enlightenment. Seeing holy objects makes us actualize all of this as a result. This is the effect we get from seeing them and this is how they cause us to achieve enlightenment.”
– Lama Zopa Rinpoche, from “Why Holy Object Are Precious and Wish-fulfilling,” posted on FPMT.org
Learn more about Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), and Rinpoche’s vision for a better world. Sign up to receive news and updates.
By Shan Watters
Positive transformation unfolds in people’s lives as they engage with the Shi-tro Mandala for Universal Peace Project, and its offshoot Tools for Peace. Shan Watters, Shi-tro Mandala Project Coordinator writes about the Project’s evolution, and its singular methodology in dealing with the challenges of modern life.
“I wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone,” says a fifteen-year old boy, when asked at a recent Tools for Peace workshop why he was incarcerated at juvenile detention facility, Camp Scudder.
We hear things, working with youth in these environments, which we would never have dreamed existed in the minds of children. Our hearts break and our minds reach to teachings on patience and non-judgment. When they begin to recognize their own inherent goodness, it is a joy to witness!
The young man mentioned above is now writing a book about his life. He is taking responsibility for his actions. The regret he now feels is painful. This change of heart he attributes to methods garnered from the workshop.
What are the methods used to reach disaffected, cynical, and often-violent youth in this detention facility’s run-down gym? …
FPMT News Around the World
De-Tong Ling Retreat Centre director Will Abram recently shared a beautiful photo of the South Australia center’s new Enlightenment Stupa, which was completed in July 2012. The photo was taken during a week-long work session at the remote and peaceful center, located on Kangaroo Island. “[This] is one of the best images we have got to date,” Abram writes.
Holy objects have been central to FPMT since the organization’s early days when Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche first established Kopan Monastery near Bouddhanath Stupa in Nepal. Since then, under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the creation of holy objects has become a central mission of the organization. Centers like De-Tong Ling and scores of others have helped carried forward Rinpoche’s vast vision to build hundreds of thousands of holy objects everywhere, making it possible for for sentient being to easily purify negative karma and create merit.
To help support FPMT students and centers in this practice, FPMT Education Services has created a new webpage on holy objects featuring information and advice. “Lama Zopa Rinpoche has personally inspired or commissioned the creation of hundreds of thousands of holy objects from the casting commitments of tsa-tsas he’s given students or suggestions for larger projects like statues, stupas, prayer wheels and large thangkas to be created on FPMT grounds,” says Education Services’ website.
On the new site, you can find resources for:
You can also find a collection of advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the benefits of holy objects and stories on holy objects from Mandala.
With more than 160 centers, projects and services around the globe, there is always news on FPMT activities, teachers and events. Mandala hopes to share as many of these timely stories as possible. If you have news you would like to share, please let us know.
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Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
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