The Sanskrit word stupa has been translated in Tibetan as chorten which means sacred support worthy of receiving offerings. It is a sacred support of ultimate enlightenment and a support for beings to cultivate merit.
There are many beautiful histories on the creation of stupas throughout Tibet, Nepal and India. The building of stupas is one of the highest techniques to accomplish the transformation of negative energy into positive energy, alleviating suffering by causing positive circumstances.
The benefits of this great shrine are enjoyed by those who join their knowledge of the monument’s qualities with sincere faith and purely motivated intent. When such individuals aid in the stupa’s construction, prostrate to it, circumambulate it, make offerings to it, the force of their merit increases tremendously.
We are well on our way to completing the vision of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche for this mandala of stupas. After the completion of the seven surrounding stupas, we will begin a vajra wall surrounding the stupas with 108 small stupas atop it and landscaping of the grounds.
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Namdrol Pemay Gatsal
The Stupa Inscription:
A Bright Crystal Mirror
An Account of the Stupa that Subdues Negative Forces
And Brings Liberation on Sight
Om Svasti—May all be auspicious
The three bodies’ essence is primordially inseparable;
Their unhindered array of magical illusion is inconceivable.
I now present this first branch of service as a decoration for this stupa,
A wish-granting jewel of sovereign power, enlightenment in physical form.
This homage precedes this text’s main subject, a brief, four-part account of the major Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces, a monument that brings liberation on sight.
The Origin of Stupas
The Sanskrit word stupa has been translated in Tibetan as chö-ten (written, mchod rten), which means the sacred support (ten) worthy of receiving offerings (chö). The highest sacred support for offerings is the Buddha’s enlightenment. Ultimate enlightenment’s essence is not subject to any aspect of dualistic formulation, yet its nature has an inherent, luminous wisdom that unfolds in an unimpeded creative display of responsive compassion—its forms that produce spontaneous and effortless help for beings. When a connection is made between the buddhas’ compassion and disciples’ pure karma and aspirations, the innate forms of the “three sacred supports” that nurture embodied beings’ merit appear of themselves, thus they are known as “ultimate enlightenment’s sacred supports.”
When such stupas hold transcendent buddhas’ sacred relics, they become sublime supports, the highest field for embodied beings’ cultivation of merit. Moreover, in general, each Buddhist way, great and small, has its own path’s belief system and characteristic manner of identifying stupas; this specific instance concerns one of the series that is commonly known as “the eight stupas of the Joyous Buddha”:
1. When our teacher Powerful Sage attained perfect, manifest enlightenment under the tree of awakening, it is said that King Bimbasara and others constructed the Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces or the Stupa of Awakening.
2. When the Buddha was born in Lumbhi Gardens, it is said that King Shuddhodana and others constructed the Source of Joyous Buddhas Stupa or the Lotus Mound Stupa.
3. When the Buddha turned the Wheel of the Teachings in Varanasi, it is said that the Five Excellent Individuals constructed the Wheel of the Teachings Stupa or the Auspicious Many-Gated Stupa.
4. When the Buddha defeated non-Buddhist teachers in Sravasti’s Jéta Gardens, it is said that the Lichavis constructed the Miracle Stupa.
5. After the Buddha taught in the heavens, he returned to humans’ land in Kashi. It is said that the people of Kashi then constructed the Descent from the Heavens Stupa.
6. When the sublime pair of Buddha’s disciples repaired the schism caused by Devadatta in the Spiritual Community, it is said that the people of Maghadha constructed the Reparation of the Schism Stupa.
7. When the Buddha extended his life three months after the layman Chunda in Vaishali asked him to do so, it is said that the people of that town (or, according to some, the gods) constructed the Blessed Longevity Stupa or the Stupa of Total Victory.
8. When the Buddha transcended suffering in the town of Kushinagar, it is said that the Mallas constructed the Stupa of Transcendence.
Further, it is said that in this world, the first among the Victor’s stupas is the Lotus Mound Stupa. Among this series of eight, this account centers upons the special support mentioned above as the Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces.
How the Stupa was Built, and its Contents
First, it is extremely important to be skillful in identifying the geomancy of the site [for a stupa]. I examined this site and identified its vital features without error. [It has the features] praised for manifest wrathful activity: a triangular shape, situated at the junction of two streams, the point where a line of hills ends, and on what looks like the crown of the head of a black snake slithering downhill.
On that spot, we began the process of consecration with a preliminary ritual for the ground, followed by preparations for rituals to suppress damsi demons and to suppress enemy, cemetery, and defeating spirits. These preliminaries were done according to practical instructions written by past awareness holders. With the refuge and support of our spiritual guide, the sublime master Jikmé Tséwang Trinlé Norbu, son of the treasure revealer, the rituals took place within the retreat center Grove of the Fulfillment of Twofold Accomplishment under the leadership of an awareness holder, the sublime master Orgyen Trinlé Kunkyab. Meditators who completed the full measure of mantra practice accompanied him as they performed rituals until producing signs of success, then finished with the activity of suppression of negative forces. Immediately thereafter, we lay the stupa’s foundation, beginning with the ritual drawing of lines on the ground.
As taught in tantras and transmissions, we placed underground myriad kinds of weapons with the intention to dissipate the world’s epoch of war. To relieve beings’ suffering from poverty, we began by placing in the yaksha’s vault [the stupa’s base above the foundation] a butter lamp that burns for an eon and, within a copper vessel filled with melted butter, male and female circles of the yaksha wealth god. These were followed with twenty-one great treasure vases that had been fully consecrated, and with myriad kinds of precious gems, principally diamonds. Likewise, to dispel times of famine, we buried grains of the finest quality; and to put an end to times of sickness, many kinds of medicine, such as the six excellent ingredients. We placed sacred circles of the two stainless deities above and below, and a full number of sa-tsa images containing sacred relics, and we made traditional arrangements of containers for offerings, each filled with specific substances, as clearly described in sacred texts. Flags, banners, and other ornaments completed this splendid, captivating array.
Above the stupa’s first level, upon the sacred circle of the fiercely powerful Buddha Dorjé Drolö (Tibetan: Vajra Sagging Belly) drawn on cloth, we collected many general objects—sacred supports, and substances for practice, offering, and fulfillment—and specific items, such as his physical sacred support, an image; sacred supports of his speech, texts; and sacred supports of his mind, a meteorite nine-pronged vajra and a meteorite mixed metal dagger. In particular, the most special sacred support for the stupa’s life force is a talismanic stone for the ocean of the Three Roots with their guardians, prepared by the supreme spiritual guide Lama Shérab Rinpoché. We decorated this beautiful and blessed arrangement with eight auspicious signs, eight auspicious substances, five objects that please the senses, and flags, banners, and musical instruments.
Into its midst we brought the stupa’s central pillar from the sacred circle of mantra practice. At five points along the pillar, we carved openings and hid within them sacred relics, of which the principal ones were these from Chok-gyur Déchen Lingpa’s treasures:
• A circular pill to nurture the brilliance of the body of enlightenment
• A circular pill to nurture the divine sonority of the speech of enlightenment
• A circular pill to nurture the great exaltation of the mind of enlightenment
• A circular pill to nurture transcendent knowledge, the quality of enlightenment
• A circular pill to nurture the forceful energy of the acts of enlightenment
As clearly indicated in sacred texts, at five points along the pillar, we wrote five seed-syllables and mantras with ink made from liquid gathered from sacred substances, mixed with gold. We placed this pillar, stable and brilliant, within the stupa.
Further, we filled the stupa with the following objects:
• circular charms for the spiritual community’s gathering and continued harmony
• circular charms for protection from fear of the four elements
• objects that bring liberation on touch, such as The Tantra of the Buddha’s Only Child
• more than seventy-five million mantras of Guru Rinpoché
• one hundred million mantras for approach, accomplishment, and activity of the fiercely powerful Dorjé Drolö, as well as prayers for success
• mantras such as the five major retention mantras
Incense powder from cedar trees fills all spaces between these cloth-bound mantras and the stupa. Around the pillar stand one hundred thousand finely detailed images of Guru Dorjé Drolö made from medicinal clay mixed with sacred substances.
Many texts fill the stupa’s middle round vessel, called the “vase”: the twenty-two volumes of Dujom Lingpa’s Collected Works, the twenty-five volumes of Dujom Yeshé Dorjé’s Collected Works, The Seven Treasuries of Longchenpa, The Four Parts of the Heart Vital Essence, The Three-Part Cycle of Repose, The Seventeen Tantras of Great Perfection, the two volumes of Lord Son of the Treasure Revealer Trinlé Norbu’s Collected Works, and The Treasury of Rediscovered Teachings. In brief, we completely filled with mantras the stupa’s interior from the four immeasurables (platforms on the stupa) to the point before the stupa’s spire.
The sun, moon, and jewel ornaments atop the thirteen wheels of spiritual teachings hold a wheel of vitality charm called The Glorious Bracelet; sacred relics; a circular pill made from Longchenpa’s brain; circular charms of the deity White Parasol; the six tantras that bring liberation by touch; and other sacred supports that bring liberation on sight.
What are referred to above as “relics” or “sacred substances” are relics that emerge from the body of ultimate enlightenment, the ultimate mind of awakening. Great beings who traveled over the paths and stages of awakening and reached the final destination, the ground without return, have naturally pure physical aggregates and elements. Thus, their physical remains naturally produce images of the five families of enlightenment and five great sacred remains—signs of their actualization of the body of ultimate enlightenment. In general, texts speak of four or more kinds of sacred relics, including mantra relics of the body of ultimate enlightenment; relics in physical remains, such as bones; relics in inert physical matter, such as hair or nails; relics of seed-size pills, such as shariram. These are known as the four kinds of relics. Among these, I gathered relics that are like mustard seeds, I gathered relics of texts, I gathered relics of brain and bone, I gathered relics of flesh, I gathered relics of physical remains, and I gathered relics of inert physical matter. In the past, sacred relics and substances such as these were concealed as treasures by Guru Rinpoché and Yeshé Tsogyal and later brought forth from their concealment places by a series of treasure revealers. Further, in the early times our tradition was nurtured by the scholar Shantiraksheeta, Master Guru Rinpoché, and religious king Trisong Détsen; in intermediate times, by three masters named So, Zur, and Noob; and in later periods, by masters Rong-zom and Longchenpa, and the father and sons of the Minling tradition. Following them, three masters referred to as Jamgon; as well as Ju Mipam, Dujom Lingpa, and others appeared. From each of these masters’ treasure chests of sacred supports, Lotus-Born Master’s regent, the emanated great treasure revealer, sublime Lord Jikdral Yeshé Dorjé collected sacred substances and bestowed them personally to me. The victors’ heir, son of the treasure revealer, the sublime master Jikmé Tséwang Trinlé Norbu gave me some sacred substances that he collected for the Great Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces that he constructed to dispel the decline of the doctrine and beings’ lives in the kingdom of Bhutan. Likewise, our lord of refuge Chadral Sangyé Dorjé Rinpoché, the sublime guide Lama Shérab Dorjé Rinpoché, Min-ling Trichen Rinpoché, Kotrul Do-gyu Gyatso Rinpoché, the Bhutanese lama and great tantric practitioner Nying-ku Rinpoché, Do-mang Yang-tang Rinpoché, Namka Drimé Rinpoché, and the supreme emanation Péma Trinlé Namgyal all bestowed sacred substances untouched by broken commitments and from genuine sources. In all, I collected and placed within the stupa many thousand kinds of sacred substances.
The Stupa’s Purpose
All sentient creatures in general, this world’s beings in particular, and especially those of us in this country and region yearn to overcome all obstacles, disharmony, and negative conditions, such as sickness, war, and famine. We wish our daily lives to progress untroubled, peaceful, joyful, and replete with the seven noble qualities of higher existences, glory and fortune in ever-increasing measure. Our ultimate goal is to gain eternal happiness—supreme reassurance of repose within the citadel of certain excellence. The master from Oddiyana knows past, present, and future stated in his transmissions:
To the degree that beings of the degenerate age sink into dense darkness,
Guru Padma’s compassion will shine with brilliant moonlight.
This was the promise he spoke in adamantine speech. The essential meaning of his words of advice provides us with limitless techniques to attain these goals by fostering the force of our merit and eliminating the decline of our era. Among them, the technique he specifically lauded as supreme is construction upon land like a power point a stupa containing the joyous buddhas’ sacred relics, that this become a support for beings’ cultivation of merit. In the past, the religious king [of India] Ashoka constructed ten million stupas throughout his land and thereby eliminated every trace of deterioration during his reign. Likewise, a poultry keeper’s four sons built the Baudhanat Stupa in Nepal. Their acts’ merit and their positive aspirations led them to later rebirth as the scholar Shantiraksheeta, Master Guru Rinpoché, religious king Trisong Détsen, and government minister Sal-nang. They lit the lamp of the Buddha’s teachings in the dark land of Tibet, providing happiness and comfort for embodied beings and covering the entire country in a gentle and positive spirit. Such histories and biographies of saints from previous times until the present are inexpressibly numerous. The practical instructions of how they built stupas continue intact to the present day in the tradition of the awareness holders’ lineage. With such especially beneficial techniques at my disposal, I found myself unable to remain complacent at this crucial time: I developed the intention to build a stupa that subdues negative forces. Further, Namka Drimé Rinpoché recently gave me a new prediction of the aptness of this project. Seeing the special need to undertake it, I did so energetically and without delay.
The benefits of this great shrine, a sacred support of ultimate enlightenment, are enjoyed by those who join their knowledge of the monument’s qualities with sincere faith and purely motivated intent. When such individuals aid in the stupa’s construction, prostrate to it, circumambulate it, or make offerings to it, the force of their merit increases tremendously. When you take this sacred support as your witness, any aspirations you make will be accomplished. When you regretfully acknowledge negative acts in this sacred support’s presence, your negative karma or downfalls in vows will be cleansed and purified. Moreover, merely folding your hands respectfully toward it just once will in the short term complete your cultivation of the cause, the accumulation of merit. Its result will be attainment of the excellent support of uplifted existence, rebirth as a god or as a good human being endowed with Buddhist teachings, and with exceptional body, face, and youth. It will also result in the pacification of every form of sickness, demons, obstacles, and negative disharmony; and in the increase and enhancement of your well-being, merit, glory, wealth, wisdom, and qualities. You will be able to employ the four means to attract beings, to magnetize whatever you wish, such as the three realms’ environments and beings, food, wealth, possessions, power, influence, and renown. Further, you will be able to eradicate every unfavorable force, such as enemies, obstructions, hostile forces, and obstacles. In particular, the you will complete your cultivation of the result, the accumulation of wisdom, and thereby attain the ultimate state of certain excellence, the state of omniscience. Once you reach your own goal, the actualization of the holy body of ultimate enlightenment, you will reach your goals for others’ benefit—enlightenment’s form bodies that effortlessly and spontaneously produce prodigious waves of activity to aid beings. This has been stated repeatedly in the reliable vajra speech found in oceans of texts of Buddhist culture and religious discourses and tantras. Stupas’ benefits are inconceivable.
The Concluding Ornament—Dedication of Merit and Prayers of Aspiration
This precious Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces—a unique ornament of existence, far greater than a wish-fulfilling jewel—now manifestly appears as evidence of beings’ merit. Who has facilitated its appearance? We ourselves, fortunate spiritual brothers and sisters inspired by a relentless noble motivation. We entirely dedicate the excellent acts we have done—prodigious waves of cultivation of merit and wisdom we accumulated when we consecrated all the energy of our body, speech, mind, and possessions to the completion of this project. By the force and blessing of such acts, may the entirety of sentient beings, whose numbers fill all space, enjoy the wealth of peace, security, and happiness. May they continually be reborn in excellent situations in higher existences, and clearly reach the state of certain perfection—omniscient enlightenment. May the victors’ precious doctrine, source of benefit and happiness, spread throughout the world and long remain. May those who preserve the teachings live long and may their activity increase. In particular, once this life’s appearances vanish, may our spiritual brothers and sisters, connected to one another by ardent commitment, immediately travel to Tail-Fan Pure Land’s Copper Colored Mountain and take rebirth there. May they attain manifest enlightenment, inseparable from and of a supreme single flavor in Ever-Excellent Lake-Born Vajra’s great expanse of luminous vision, the mystery of enlightened mind, the nature of reality’s inexpressible sphere. I make this dedication without concepts in relation to agent, act, and recipient, completely focused upon the great expanse of reality’s transcendent nature.
My prayers of aspiration are as have been stated in our master’s vajra speech:
Throughout the world, and in this region and country,
May the sufferings of sickness, famine, and war be unheard of.
May merit, glory, and wealth guided by spiritual values ever increase.
May magnificent, auspicious happiness and excellence forever reign.
This prayer comes from the glorious songs of the master from Oddiyana incarnate, the great treasure revealer, King of the Teachings, our supreme lord and master, Dujom Jikdral Yeshé Dorjé. His words, the natural resonance of the nature of reality, arise uninhibitedly of themselves and carry the supremely forceful blessings of profound aspirations that become true and meaningful. May they ensure that this project’s and this text’s conclusion bring ever-increasing positive effects.
The Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces was consecrated on September 5, 2002, at the isolated retreat center of Péma Osel Ling in the western United States. On completion of that ceremony, some of my spiritual brothers and sisters encouraged me to write the story of the stupa to inspire others’ confidence. Respecting their wishes, I, holder of the title Lama Tsédrup Tharchin, gathered the essential points and put them in context, in the wish that this text should prove entirely virtuous.