is a Stupa?
The Stupa represents Buddha's holy mind, Dharmakaya, and each part
of the Stupa shows the path to Enlightenment. Building a Stupa is
a very powerful way to purify negative karma and obscurations, and
to accumulate extensive merit. In this way you can have realizations
of the path to Enlightenment and be able to do perfect work to liberate
suffering beings, who equal the sky, leading them to the peerless
happiness of Enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal of our life.
How is a
Once a site for a Stupa has been chosen Pujas (prayers) are said
and the earth deities addressed to seek a blessing for the site
and to remove any obstacles to the successful building of the Stupa.
All those involved in the work must be sure to have the right motivation
so that every aspect of the Stupa emanates the pure mind of Buddha.
Each Stupa in
the Tibetan tradition sits upon a square base called the Lions
Seat whose four sides refer to the four qualities of mind basic
to the attainment of enlightenment. These are:- Love, Compassion,
Joy and Equanimity. This base is then traditionally filled with
jewels, precious texts and relics pertaining to the tradition of
Stupa building. On the Lions Seat there are then built five
steps which are representative of the progress of the mind towards
enlightenment. Each step can be divided into two and alludes to
the ten levels of Bodisattva realisation.
There is then
a rounded form built on top of the steps called the Bumpa which,
depending on the size of the Stupa can contain a room for meditation
and Puja (as with the large Stupa at Samye Ling) or, if it is smaller
will be simply filled with further precious and pure representations
of Buddha's mind. The Bumpa itself is representative of the seventeen
levels of the Realm of Form.
Out of the Bumpa
a spire forms and on top of that sit ornaments which together represent
the four stages of the Formless Realm. In much the same way as the
Stupa's outer manifestation mirrors that of pure mind, so too must
its inner contents. Great emphasis is placed on the consciousness
with which the objects within its form are made. The tradition is
very particular in the way it states exactly what should be placed
inside and in what manner they must be crafted to ensure the utmost
A central axis
called the Sog Shing, meaning Life Stick is made, and
is traditionally carved from Sandalwood or Juniper. However, if
it is not possible to obtain these woods, the wood of any tree which
does not bear poisonous fruit can be used. Here in Scotland the
tradition has been adapted to use Pine. Once the tree has been chosen,
prayers and offerings are made to the Earth Spirits for permission
to use it. A monk with full ordination vows must then craft the
wood into a tapered shape and either carve or paint mantras over
its surface. It is important that all materials used in this process
are of the highest quality possible. At the tip of the Life Stick
a picture of the Victory Stupa is made and at its base that of a
half Dorje. Holes are made at the top and base and blessed relics,
medicines and texts are placed inside.
The Life Stick
is then wrapped in precious materials and is fixed in place on the
Lions Seat. It is long enough to protrude to the Stupa's highest
The Stupa is
then filled with relics which symbolically pertain to the utmost
purity of mind. It is said that if the Stupa itself is the representation
of Buddhas' body then the Relics are the life force which flows
through it and, as such, are even more vital than its outer form.
The first relic,
called the Dharma relic or Tsa Tsa is made to fill the Stupa. These
are small clay models of Stupas which here at Samye Ling have been
fashioned from local clay, again extracted from the earth after
prayers and offerings were made. These can only be made by monks
and nuns or lay people who have undergone the refuge ceremony and
who have taken eight basic Buddhist vows for the day. Each Tsa Tsa
is made with the recitation of specific mantras and a visualisation
of the Buddha. A hole is made in the base of each model and inside
this are placed rolled up prayer scrolls.
The second relic
to be placed in the Stupa is a remnant of the body of the Buddha
himself. Like the third and fourth specified relics, which are a
piece of the Buddhas' robe and a white grain of the Buddha's bone
respectively, these are rare and hard to come by. The great blessing
that graces Samye Ling through the presence of its founder, Akong
Tulku Rinpoche and Lama Phuntsok, the visiting Stupa Lama, means
that these have been attained along with relics of the body of Guru
Rinpoche, Tilopa, Marpa and His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.
fifth relic specified to go inside the Stupa is the Mantra Relic.
These include the eighty four thousand teachings of the Buddha along
with the commentaries on his teachings by many of the realised beings
who came after him. The Mantra Relic also includes the Five
Great Mantras for Stupas.
Once the Stupa
is complete and all the relics are in place, a blessing ceremony
takes place. A gathering of many realised Lamas and Masters along
with Sangha, Retreatants and Lay practitioners is arranged and prayers
and blessings are made to complete the process of the building the
Stupa. The Benefit of the Stupa emanates far and wide and is said
to go on for Aeons. The positivity generated by such activity is
impossible to measure. Liberation is said to be given by merely
hearing about a Stupa, by touching it, by seeing it, by praying
to it, by walking around it and by eating the offerings that are
made to it. In the West Stupa building is an activity in its infancy,
but one whose inspiration must surely touch us all.
the benefits of building a Stupa?
The following ten benefits of a Stupa were explained by Lama Thubten
Zopa Rinpoche in Chenrezig Institute, Australia, in September 1994.
represents Buddha's holy mind, Dharmakaya, and each part of the
Stupa shows the path to Enlightenment. Building a Stupa is a very
powerful way to purify negative karma and obscurations, and to accumulate
extensive merit. In this way you can have realizations of the path
to Enlightenment and be able to do perfect work to liberate suffering
beings, who equal the sky, leading them to the peerless happiness
of Enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal of our life.
1. If you make
1,000 Stupas, you will become a great 'Wheel-turning Holder of the
Wisdom Teachings' (Mahayana Secret Mantra) and have clairvoyance
knowing all the Buddhadharma.
2. After death, without being born in the lower realms, you will
be born as a King.
3. You will become like a sun, rising in the world, with perfect
senses and a beautiful body.
4. You will be able to remember past lives and see future lives.
5. You will be able to extensively listen to the Dharma without
6. The "Stainless Beam" sutra states - 'All negative karma
and obscurations, including the five uninterrupted negative karmas,
are purified even by dreaming of a Stupa, seeing a Stupa hearing
the sound of the bell of a Stupa and even for birds and flies etc,
by being touched by the shadow of a Stupa.
7. The sentient beings will always be protected by the Buddhas,
who always pay attention to guiding them to achieve complete pure
Enlightenment. They abide in the irreversible stage.
8. It is explained by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Sutras, that it is
extremely powerful to build a Stupa for those who have passed away,
as it immediately changes a suffering rebirth into a fortunate rebirth
with the opportunity to meet the Dharma.
9. It can also heal those with serious diseases.
10. There is no question that it accumulates extensive merit and
brings success and happiness. Therefore, dedicate for your ancestors,
family members and friends who have passed away or who are sick,
and for the happiness of yourself and your family in this and future