Today was an especially auspicious day for putting up new prayer flags around the stupa. It is Chothrul Duchen (Day of Buddha Performing Miracles). Blue sky with gentle breezes and bright sunlight all came together auspiciously. We put up 24 new flags around the stupa—the fresh energy was apparent as the wind blew the flags, sending prayers around the world. Each flag has 5 colors (representing the five primary elements), and each color has a different prayer printed on it: Prayer to the deity White Umbrella, Prayer for Raising Energy, Prayer for Long Life, Prayer to Remove Obstacles, Prayer for Enlightenment.
What is the history of building stupas? The first stupa, “Thuparamaya” was built at Sanchi, India by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE and houses ashes of the Buddha.
Since that time over two centuries ago, thousands of stupas have been built at sacred sites around the world, representing the enlightened Buddha.
The stupa symbolizes Buddha’s enlightened mind. The statue represents enlightened body. Dharma texts represent enlightened speech. And the stupa represents enlightened mind.
At Shin Mei Spiritual Centre, our stupa is called Jangchub Chorten (“Jangchub” means “enlightened.” “Chorten” is the Tibetan word for Stupa).
To understand the meaning of “Enlightenment Stupa” please consider the experience of Buddha. After sitting in meditation for 49 days under a tree at Bodhgaya, Siddhartha attained enlightenment and understood the true nature of all things. He realized that, like him, all beings, without exception, have equal potential for enlightenment. We call this “the Buddha nature.”
Here, Jangchub Chorten contains so many enlightened buddhas, relics, and blessings! All these sacred items from enlightened beings support our journey for our own enlightenment. The sacred energy and blessings of these treasures not only transmit blessings to the people who are physically at the stupa, but it also creates energy to bless the entire community, land and world to heal and enlighten all living beings. Thus, by circumambulating the stupa at our centre, not only do you receive blessings, but you are also sending blessings to all people in the world.
When we are approaching a sacred object (textbook, stupa, shrine), we should always have focused spiritual energy and aspirations. When we do that, it makes our connection with the sacred, enlightened object meaningful. Try not to be distracted or casual. Your spiritual attitude is very important.
What is the history of the stupa at Knapp Island? The Jangchub Chorten was built in 2002 by Khenpo Karpo and Lama Namdrol from Bhutan. It contains many precious relics in each level of the stupa. For more detailed information on the contents, please click here. The Stupa was further consecrated by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and by myself shortly after its completion.
What is the method of practice? When you approach the stupa, stand in front of the steps and bow 3 times. From here, you may read the plaque explaining the history of this stupa. Quiet your mind, and please give rise to pure motivation and devotion to focus and remember the sacred contents. Circumambulate the stupa clockwise 3 or more times. You can recite mantras or remain in silent walking meditation. When you leave, bow 3 times in front of the stupa. Take several steps back (without turning), showing respect for the sacredness of the stupa and your experience, and then gently turn and return to the main path.
I sincerely hope you will come visit and enjoy the unique opportunity to experience this sacred site!