Construction log book
Consecration of the Stupa
# 10 – November 20, 2016
Sunday morning, in the early morning mist, the musical instruments were brought over to the tent, especially set up as a temporary temple right next to the stupa. There seemed to be a special excitement surrounding both the monument and the Institute at Dhagpo.
The traditional ritual of rabne, destined to instil the final living touch, took place in front of the stupa which was decorated with flower garlands and offering bowls. Khenpo Chodrak Rinpoche and Trinlay Rinpoche led the practice along side the monastic community.
At the same time in the Institute, Lama Jigme Rinpoche guided the meditative practice of the 16th Karmapa guru yoga. Nearly 500 people, coming from all parts of Europe, were united in joining their wishes and prayers for the prompt return of Shamar Rinpoche.
Then, as the sun sent a few rays of sunlight onto the golden summit of the stupa, Lama Jigme Rinpoche came to perform the final phase of the consecration ritual by removing the yellow fabric covering the alcove of the stupa revealing the very first statue of the 14th Shamapa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, which now sits in this recess marking the heart of the stupa.
Each and everyone was then able to come and pay his respects in front of the stupa, offering a kata and formulate their first wishes by turning around this practice support now accessible today and for centuries to come.
Inserting the tree of life
# 9 – November 2016
The stupa is finished! The last phase of construction took place a few days ago with the insertion of the sokshing and the placing of the highest element, crowned with the sun and the moon.
A metal cylinder was filled with substances that we’ve become familiar with – rolls of mantras, semi-precious stones, medicinal plants, lavender and cedar. The middle of the cylinder remained empty in order to receive the sokshing.
A lovely procession accompanied the tree of life along with the sound of trumpets. Participants continued to formulate wishes for the well-being of everyone on a kata attached to the sokshing as it rose into the air to embed itself in the heart of the stupa. The highest element, symbolizing the cranial protrusion of the Buddha, then came to dress it in gold while those in attendance were visibly moved. Une courte cérémonie de clôture a pris place.
A short closing ceremony took place.
Now, all that is left is to fill the niche with a statue of Buddha. Which Buddha will it be? We’ll leave the suspense for the day of the great consecration which is coming very quickly!
Bumpa Installation and Mandala Rituals
# 8 – November 2016
As explained in the precedent construction log book, the mandalas of Tsuktor Drime and Ozer Drime, engraved on metal plates, were inserted into the upper chambers of the stupa. Practices connected to these yidams must be carried out in the presence of the stupa. On this occasion, we transformed the meeting room in the Institute that directly overlooks the stupa into an improvised temple.
While the ritual was going strong, the bumpa (the bell-shaped part of the stupa) was placed over the already-filled chamber.
Kundreul Ling’s monks and nuns came to lend a hand carrying out these complex practices. Throughout the ritual, those gathered make offerings to the beings that inhabit the surrounding area as well as the stupa itself in each of the cardinal directions. The offerings made are symbolic; the veritable offerings are those within the stupa.
The Second and Third Levels of the Stupa
# 7 – November 2016
The assembly of the stupa continues with the addition of the consecrated objects and substances into their respective chambers.
The second, square-shaped, chamber also welcomes tsatsas and mantra rolls containing the mantra of Amitabha and the five great dharanis.
Engraved on a copper plate and adorned with specific offerings, the complete mandala of the yidam Tsuktor Drime is inserted in the upper part of the chamber.
Then the chamber is hermetically sealed. New granite slabs were sealed on top before installing the third, semi-circular, chamber. The interior of the chamber was emptied to allow the sokshing to take its place at the heart of the yidam Ozer Drime’s mandala.
This final chamber shelters a box containing personal effects (notably clothing) and relics of Shamar Rinpoche, as well as the precedent shamarpas, the 15th and 16th karmapas, and Gendun Rinpoche. The remaining spaces are filled with mantra rolls of the Buddhas and yidams. The interstices are then packed with a mix of cedar, medicinal plants, and precious and semi-precious stones. The 102 volumes of the Kangyur (the part of the Tibetan canon consisting of the Buddha’s words) crowns the chamber. And finally, the underside of the cover that seals the chamber is ornamented with two mandalas: that which brings together the community and that which brings harmony.
The first level of the stupa
# 6 – October 2016
In the early morning fog at Dhagpo, the delivery of stones for the first level of the stupa come one after another.
Once this first level is constructed, the chamber that is housing the mantra rolls and tsatsas was installed. In the morning, those who took part in filling the stupa took sojong vows at dawn.
A vase of riches holding jewels and sacred objects offered by practitioners was placed in the center. It was surrounded by smaller vases containing food (seeds and dried fruits) and medicinal plants. Precious stones were added, specifically one large amethyst.
In the spaces around the large mantra rolls, tsatsas were then placed.
The interstices are filled with a mix of plants (different types of cedar and lavendar) grown at Dhagpo along with various dried medicinal plants.
Assembling the Base of the Stupa
# 5 – October 2016
The granite blocks were arranged around the stupa to ensure their correct location. Then the crane lifted the stones again one by one and set them back down on a bed of mortar. Afterwards the joints were added to fix and align the whole.
This part of the process is not yet the stupa itself but the base on which it will be erected.
The construction work is even a bit ahead of schedule due to the perfect construction of the foundation. We are now awaiting the next delivery of stone blocks in order to mount the first section of the stupa.
The Stone Arrives!
# 4 – Wednesday, October 12, 2016
After three days of travel from the quarry in Poland, a truck arrived at Dhagpo carrying the first blocks of granite. It delivered twenty-two tons of stone today. Three more transports will complete the delivery of eighty tons total that will make up the stupa. Between meditation sessions in the Institute, volunteers came to welcome the arrival of the immense blocks of stone and watch them float through the air above their heads as though defying gravity.
As for the stonemasons, they arrive next Sunday. These experts in stupa construction join the team for the assembly of the stone blocks.
Consecration Ceremony and Insertion of the Vases
# 3 – September 2016
Once the lower levels of the foundations were completed and the concrete slabs had dried, the first steps of inserting materials in the stupa could take place.
In early September, we placed the materials connected to the protectors within the stupa following a short ritual and then covered them with a mix of broken and compacted stone. An empty cube remained in the center to receive the vases. Once we had completed the rebar structure of this section, we poured a concrete slab, leaving a space for the preparations in the heart of the stupa. The first chamber in the heart of the stupa welcomes various vases of offerings to the nagas. In mid-September, we carried out a consecration ceremony that began in the temple and continued with a procession of participants carrying the vases to the prepared altar in front of the stupa. We then placed the vases in the cubic niche prepared for them, sealed them in place and covered the space in concrete.
The first step of the stupa’s foundations thus concluded. With the arrival of the first granite blocks, the assembly of the first level can now take place..
# 2 – September 2016
While we work on creating the substances that will fill the interior of the stupa, the first major construction work at the site begins to prepare the foundations of the stupa. While the backhoe began digging a 1.7 meter (5.6 foot) deep quadrilateral, the sturdier men curved metal bars destined to create the armature to shape the concrete. Once the concrete slab was dry, the next step was fabricating and filling the mold for the foundation. This collaborative construction effort brought together volunteering professional masons, motivated ladies, teachers, librarians, and volunteers of all sorts who lent a happy, helping hand.
Practice of Smoke Offering and Purification by Fire
# 1 – August 28, 2016
In late August, before major construction began, we did a practice of smoke offering and purification by fire. Shabdrung Rinpoche, who was present for his annual teaching, guided the ritual for Lama Jampa and Dhagpo’s lamas and druplas.The goal of this practice was to encourage wisdom and ordinary beings to positively connect with the stupa project and to bring together the right conditions to begin construction work. Here are several photos of the ritual.