Canadian stupa project

We have received the following letter from Rinpoche (December 2019) and we will post updates here as the work progresses.

Greetings Dharma Students and Friends,

I am excited to begin a project that is long overdue.  I would like to build a stupa to honour our gurus, grandparents, parents, friends, and family members—especially remembering our friends who passed way in the last few years.  According to Buddhist tradition, we build stupas to honour the buddhas, as well as those who have passed away–those we have loved so much.

After Bhagvan Buddha entered parinirvana his disciples Maha Ananda, Shariputra, Subhuti. and so on decided to construct a structure for Bhagvan’s holy relics, as an object of prayer, to create merit, and as a reminder of his precious teachings and great kindness.  Stupas are also known as caitiya, dagoba and chorten in Tibetan. The great Buddhist King Ashoka built one million stupas in India in honour of Lord Buddha’s teachings and for the purpose of purifying unwholesome karma and accumulating merit for future generations.  Our stupa will benefit our sangha and community in many ways including creating the cause for good health, harmony, peace, prosperity, and especially increased dharma realizations.  Building stupas is a tradition in both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism (in such places as India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Indonesia, and Japan). There are eight different designs of stupas to commemorate the life of the Buddha.  Traditionally, stupas are constructed at most Buddhist temples.

Our stupa will be a Bodhi Stupa in honour of the enlightenment of Buddha Shakyamuni. This is the first stupa built in southern British Columbia, Canada.  I personally believe this stupa will bring blessings, peace, happiness, and harmony for our sangha community, as well as for Canada and the world.  Inside the stupa we will place many holy relics, Buddha statues, tsa tsas (small Buddha images), small stupas, lots of mantras, prayers, precious and semis-precious stones.  We will also include herbs such as sandal wood, saffron, teak wood, agaru, juniper, sage, lavender, and arnica.  Additionally, we will also include grains, silk, cotton, sheepwool, camelhair, yakhair, horsehair, and feathers of various birds like eagles, raven, and peacocks, which symbolize auspiciousness and prosperity. 

Our plan is to build a 17-foot-high stupa in the Tibetan style right next to the temple in Nelson during July and August of next year (2020).  Since it is a monument, we don’t even need a building permit in Canada. We are free to do whatever we wish.  What a great country we live in!  I would like to get organized right away.  We will need to begin gathering the materials as soon as possible.  When the construction has been completed there will be a consecration ceremony at the end of August or early September.  The construction will depend on the help of many volunteers, but there will be significant cost for the materials.   I expect we will need roughly $20,000 Canadian Dollars.  Donations are coming in already and sooner is better for us.  (The mantras and texts alone will be over 100 kilograms.)  We plan to ship these items ready made from Mongolia by DHL sometime in March 2020.  We will need silk, cotton, incense, and so on.  The most expensive item is a gold-plated bronze sun and moon that will adorn the very top of the stupa.  Other materials include concrete, metal, bricks, and timber.

Many people have asked how they can help.  You may offer some of the objects that will go inside the stupa such as semi-precious stones and herbs.   Also, you can help us share this message with others.  If you are able to donate money to help us make this vision a reality, I would be so grateful.  Instructions for donating to Gaden For The West through Paypal are available on the Gaden for the West website. (Please do not send any donations directly to me.)  Gaden for the West will issue tax receipts for all donations, but please remember that the most meaningful part of donating to this project is the opportunity we have to create merit and good karma.

Our sangha and I appreciate your support and kindness very much.  Together we will create a lot of good karma and wonderful merit!

Much Love and Blessings,

Zasep Rinpoche 
(and the Stupa Construction Committee: Dieter Spielkamp, John Burton, Staffpen Hake, and Evan Zaleschuk)