Completely free from the two obscurations as well as perfected the two kinds of knowledge,
The three secrets of the Sugata Buddha,
Skilled in the means and the light of enlightened activity:
To the great stupa endowed with the four liberations, I bow!
Paying homage and bowing with respect, I would like to talk about the construction of sacred stupas. The completely enlightened Buddha Shakyamuni looks on all sentient beings with his loving-kindness, compassion, and extremely skillful means endowed with boundless compassion. His enlightened activity of the four liberations can be seen directly in this present moment in the form of the stupas (stupa/chaitya) that are the essence of the five types of relics(śarīra). According to what is affirmed in the sutras, tantras, and other special instructions, if you prostrate, make offerings, and circumambulate before these representations (stupas), with the three perfect principles of the preparation, the main part, and the conclusion, with fervent faith and devotion, then the words of the Buddha are infallible.
Therefore, you will not only gain infinite temporary and ultimate benefits, but also just as soon as you encounter good, bad, or neutral connections, you will accomplish an extraordinary ground for accumulating merit and purifying obscurations. The one who has voluntarily and sincerely taken the responsibility to construct these stupas is Lama Tashi Rinpoche. He is by nature faithful, diligent, intelligent, and compassionate. His motivation is clear and uncontrived, able to liberate beings from samsara and attain enlightenment. He is a very generous, honest, reliable, and fully committed Dharma practitioner with a joyful mind of exertion to engage in all positive activities. He pays attention and respect to the deities and craftsmen, observes the vows of a Bhikshu vajra-holder in general. In particular, he has received the empowerments (abhiśheka) of these mandalas preceded by complete recitation details. In accordance with the authentic Indian and Tibetan treatises, Lama Tashi possesses the excellent knowledge and experience on the unerring practice of the proportions, layouts, measuring lines, and graphics of stupas, statues, and so on. As it has been explained in the Two Immaculate Sutras, putting more importance on practicality and properly keeping the vows of Mahāyāna amending and purification (poṣadha), he became a pure vegetarian. And for the purity of conduct, he also avoids eating meat, garlic, and onions, and drinking alcohol.
All the relics, dharanis, other substances are complete. Lama Tashi Rinpoche himself put these consecrated substances into the stupas and gathered students to help carry this out. The relics in the stupas include various types of relics obtained from the learned and accomplished mastersof India and Tibet; the precious scriptures, mainly the Kangyur(collection of Buddha’s teachings) and Tangyur(collection of Indian commentaries on the Buddha’s words); many sacred stamped clay figures, tsa-tsa(sāccha/sāncaka), which are the embodiment of the Dharmakāya relics; the five precious substances; various types of grains and medicines; the three whites (curds, milk, and butter); and the three sweets (sugar, molasses, and honey). Most importantly, the central pillars (Tib. srog shing, Skt. Yaṣṭi) of the stupas are carefully adorned with dharanis, auspicious words, and supplications written in gold, silver, and vermillion (hiṅgula) as set forth by the great masters of the past. The outer aspect of each central pillar is beautifully wrapped in sacred yellow cloths and five kinds of colored threads. All the necessary elemental substances in this world were searched for and collected from each of the sub-continents. They were then preserved according to what is mentioned in the sutras, tantras, and other instructions from many years ago.
Hence, I am going to write down briefly what I have directly witnessed: the proper preparations and arrangements of this project. In the Kangyur and Tangyur, there is a Ritual of Constructing One Hundred and Eight Stupas or Five Stupas. The most well-known stupas are the “Eight Stupas of Sugatas.” The Tibetan term for “stupa” is chöten(mchodrten), which is equivalent to the Sanskrit term chaitya, which means “to amass” and “to remember,” so it is saidthat this can refer to the general representations of the Three Jewels. The stupas of liberation through seeing, such as the “Wisdom Stupa of Kalachakra” mentioned in uncommon tantric treatises of the old and new traditions and especially, in the wisdom chapter of Kālacakra Tantra, serves as an unchanging protection to guide infinite sentient beings to the state of bliss.
As for how to construct stupas, there are several significant features and requirements, such as the main representation, which is the principal deity in a stupa; the specific place where a stupa is constructed, the sponsors of a stupa, which is the cause; the qualifications and authenticity of the craftsmen, which is the conditioning factor; and in particular, the one who is skilled in the principles of line graphics and proportions of the stupa. Here, Venerable Lama Tashi Rinpoche is an authentic vajra master who is endowed with all the excellent qualities and experiences of the special instructions. He established the seed to practice the sacred Dharma, a Dharma center that gives a sense of fitness and joy to all visitors and those practitioners meditating in the natural state, by founding Thrangu Dharma Center, Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling, which is located north of the city of Toronto. The place itself is one of solitude, pleasing and beautiful, with the area perfect in size for the practitioners and devotees.
For the welfare of the teachings and beings, Lama Tashi Rinpoche engaged in benefiting himself and others, preceded by an unsurpassable intention conducive to the Dharma, by establishing this Dharma center. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, the very Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche who is a spiritual teacher of the Karmapa, and many other non-secretarian masters have showered a pleasant rain of sacred teachings and blessed this Dharma center to remain until the end of samsara. Ever since then, Lama Tashi himself took the responsibility to satisfy his students from different communities and nationalities through giving Dharma teachings in accordance with their capacity and temperament.
As for the general pujas and other ritual ceremonies that take place at the center, there are: protection-blessings and rites to expel obstructing spirits for devoted people, ritual ceremonies for the well-being of people who are alive, funeral ceremonies of consciousness transference for guiding a deceased person to a higher rebirth, and dedication and aspiration offerings. The daily practices include morning Tāra Ritual Practice and Smoke Offerings, evening Invocation Practice and Sür Offerings, the Periodic Ceremonial Offerings of the Three Roots in every other month, annual Sādhana Practice, Teachings on Meditation, and more. In short, there are all the conducive facilities in the center for those who genuinely wish to practice the sacred Dharma.
The layout of this sacred place is designed as is set forth in the sutras, tantras, and other instructional treatises. There is a great 25-foot Wisdom Stupa of Kalachakra in the center, and the Eight Stupas of Sugatas, each 18-feet in height, in the four cardinal and intermediate directions. In between all these stupas, there are many 7-foot stupas. The place itself is very spacious and beautifully surrounded by five levels of rims that represent the Five Buddha-Families. All the segreater and lesser stupas are properly arranged for the benefit of beings to serve as the basis of accumulating merit and purifying obscurations. They serve to create the seed of liberation in the mind-stream of whoever encounters these stupas, and they become the direct support to accomplish the marvelous activities possessing the Four Kinds of Liberations of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. These altruistic deeds are worthy of admiration and praise by all.
Lama Tashi Rinpoche always pays attention to the practices of means and liberation, and has mastered his mind to benefit the teachings and beings. He is also very kind to have built a 7-foot stupa at Bokar Karma Tāra Ling in the city of Belleville, near the eastern end of Lake Ontario. In 1970, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rikpé Dorje, His Eminence Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche Rangjung Kunchap, and numerous other masters from different schools visited and blessed this center. Lama Tashi Rinpoche agreed to perform the rituals to consecrate the center. On August 12, 2020, he visited the center, consecrated the land, performed preliminary rituals and sadhana practice, and recited the Two Immaculate Sutras (The Sutras of Immaculate Uṣṇīṣha and Immaculate Rays of Light). These rituals and pujas were conducted for four days according to the intent of the sutras and tantras, with an appropriate mandala of mantra. Lama Tashi consecrated the representations, along with the enlightened activity of the three secrets, which opened the gate of prosperity and glory, and sealed this with auspiciousness. Generally, there are innumerable benefits of engaging in every major and minor deeds by keeping focus on the Three Jewels; then the result will increase inexhaustibly until one attains enlightenment. In particular, to construct statues and stupas, and then to prostrate, make offerings, and circumambulate them, will bring infinite benefits. Even just to sit in the shadow of stupas and statues, will not only purify the karmic obscurations of beings with form, but it also will purify the karmic obscurations of formless beings in the lower realms. They will gradually take rebirth with the form of a human body, endowed with all the freedoms and advantages, and ultimately attain enlightenment. The innumerable benefits are taught by the Buddha himself, and the words of the Buddha are infallible. I have given a brief explanation of the benefits of constructing stupas according to the sutras and tantras of the old and new traditions in general, and in particular according to the Sutra of Immaculate Uṣṇīṣha and Sutra of Immaculate Rays of Light, along with Lochen Dharma Shri’s Liturgy for Recitation and His Eminence Bokar Khenchen Lodrö Dhonyö Rinpoche’s Presentation of Stupas, Heaps of Variegated Jewel Stones. Finally, through the power of the positive force coming from constructing these stupas with appropriate causes and conditions, may sickness, famine, war, and all the harms and dangers of the four elements be pacified throughout the country in general, and in this place in particular! Through this virtue, may the contagious Coronavirus disease be annihilated and disappear immediately like a feather blown away by the wind. May all beings be fulfilled in utilizing this perfect time! May all the precious teachings of the Buddha flourish! May the lives of great beings who are the holders of the teachings be long and stable! May their activity and deeds spread endlessly like the light of the sun and moon! May all the people who have supported this project be freed from unfavorable conditions! May their wishes be spontaneously fulfilled! Just as this dedication of merit is made to serve the cause of attaining the non-abiding nirvāṇa, in the same way, may all achieve the complete state of Buddhahood! Thus, I have honestly written down a brief presentation on these stupas that I have directly witnessed, without being sullied by flattering words.
This was written by Drubpon Lama Tsultrim Gyatso from Bokar Karma Tara Ling Dharma Centre in Belleville, Ontario on August 08, 2020, on the anniversary of the gloriousguru Bokar Vajradhara, with complete faith and devotion through making supplications and aspirations before the Three Jewels.