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The Stupa Doesn’t Belong to Anyone Alone

His Eminence Kundrol Mongyal Lhasray Rinpoche, his son Chimed Rigzin (Sang-ngag Lingpa tulku) and his daughter Chimed Wangmo have arrived in Thailand since the 6th. Soraj, Yontan and I went to receive them at the airport. The moment I saw them, it was a great joy. They wear long hair and dress with the outfit of ordained tantric practitioners. This is another category of Tibetan practitioners that many people don’t know about. I felt grateful to Rinpoche for taking the trouble to come to Thailand again despite his busy schedule and his age. Having all three of them here, I couldn’t help feeling that the Kundrol Dragpa lineage has truly come to Thailand.

This evening the Tara Stupa working group came to visit Rinpoche and have dinner with him at our foundation house in Nonthaburi. I took them to see Rinpoche at our shrine room. We spent special time together talking about the stupa – why it is necessary to build it and how we should go about it. Later on Yontan remarked that what Rinpoche told us was not only profound teaching but remarkable words that could move even the heart of a scientist.

Rinpoche said there are two main reasons why we want to build a stupa. The first is that we want to eliminate defilements (kleshas). In general, we talk about three defilements in Buddhism which are the root cause of suffering: attachment, hatred and ignorance. In Tibetan Buddhism in addition to these three, there are two other defilements, namely jealousy and pride. Building a stupa is a way to tame them. The second reason is that we want to receive blessings from Buddhas, no matter whether they are the Buddhas of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya or Nirmanakaya, or whether they are the Buddhas of five families. Understanding the three bodies or the five families of Buddhas, we gain a way towards enlightenment.

Rinpoche stresses that we should build the stupa with proper attitude like this, with motivation to help sentient beings and for the sake of Buddha’s teaching. Although the stupa was originated by me, it doesn’t belong to me. Although Rinpoche supervises the project, it doesn’t belong to him. He can’t put it in his pocket and take it back to Tibet. All sentient beings are the stupa’s owner. It will benefit not only Thailand but everywhere in the world. Rinpoche requests us to help each other in whatever ways we can so that the work can be materialized as soon as possible but with great efficiency. He said we should not cast any doubt but make a firm decision to work for the sake of sentient beings, and pray for the work to benefit countless beings. Rinpoche himself, after having built the stupa, may not have time to come back to Thailand again. But he will pray for anyone who gets a chance to see, hear about or come into contact with the stupa, to be inspired by it, to experience inner peace, and understand the significance of the five Buddha families. He will pray for them to be born in the Buddhas’ realms where there are no defilements, the cause of rebirths in samsara.

Rinpoche reminds us that life is impermanent and death doesn’t make a difference between old or young. We should do the work as quickly as we can but with special care. Once the blueprints are completed, the main work would be to look for a construction company. The construction supervisor must be a responsible and devoted person, let alone being well-expereinced and skillful. Having come to Thailand the second time, he saw how Thai people are capable of building temples and stupas (jediyas) as well as making Buddha images. He believes that the work here will be much better than in China and the stupa will be built with precision according to traditional customs.

In general there are more than 100 types of a stupa. These types can be grouped into eight kinds. We see these various kinds of the stupa in Tibet. All of them must have sacred objects filled in. These sacred objects are like the heart and soul of the stupa. Although jediyas in Thailand and stupas in Tibet are quite different from each other in term of shape, the motivation in building them must be the same. After being filled and consecrated, the benefit of the stupa is immeasurable.

Then Rinpoche talks about the ceremony we’ll conduct on the 10th, one of the most important days of Khadiravana’s history. In Tibet this kind of ceremony is a huge one with grand celebration, cham (masked dance), use of elaborate musical instrument and chanting by a group of ordained bhikshus. This is a way to express our gratitude to local gods for allowing us to borrow the land for the Dharma work. But he didn’t want to put a lot of financial burden on us. So as an old man having gone through all these defilements and accumulated a lot of experiences himself, he would represent the sangha in performing the ceremony. When it’s time to do the consecration, there will be a grand ceremony.

Finally, he requests us to realize how important it is to be born as a human being. This body is like gold. If we treat it as stone, it’s such a great waste. Having this human birth, we can accumulate merits, work for the sake of others and become enlightened.

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