Stupa of Enlightenment

Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, his attendants, and some of teh Gampo Abbey community in front of the Stupa of Enlightenment, 2011

Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, his attendants, and some of the Gampo Abbey community in front of the Stupa of Enlightenment, 2011

Work started in the summer of 1999 on a stupa at Gampo Abbey that contains relics of the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It is the first stupa built in Nova Scotia. Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche, Abbot of Gampo Abbey, requested in 1996 that the stupa be built. The project had the strong support of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and fulfills the Vidyadhara’s request that his relics be distributed between RMSC, Karme Choling and Gampo Abbey. Thrangu Rinpoche consecrated the completed stupa in 2001.

According to Rinpoche, a stupa traditionally represents the mind of the Buddha and has the power to convey the mind transmission to those who gaze at it. The stupa, he said, is dedicated to world peace, and will become a tourist attraction that will bring many people to the spiritual path. To symbolize the overcoming of aggression, Rinpoche buried weapons in the ground below where the stupa was built, including a World War I rifle donated by a Cape Breton neighbour of the Abbey, and he consecrated the site.

Rinpoche also asked that the Lojong slogans, teaching the Bodhisattva practices of generosity, patience, discipline, exertion, meditation, and wisdom, be inscribed around the stupa on terraced walls so that they can be read while circumambulating. The stupa project opened an important dialogue between the Abbey and the surrounding Pleasant Bay community. That community is delighted that the stupa has brought tourists to the area and stimulated the local economy, in conjunction with a whale-watching and interpretation centre that has been built in Pleasant Bay. Rinpoche has expressed confidence that the stupa can help bring prosperity and well-being both to the Abbey and to the surrounding community.

Stupa-statueThrangu Rinpoche appointed Lama Tashi Tondrup, one of his senior lamas, to supervise the elaborate ritual details for construction of the mandalas inside the stupa, including the lifeforce pole at its centre. Accompanying him were two other lamas to assist in the procedures, one from Nepal and one from China. Gampo Abbey staff collected the prescribed substances and materials, including precious stones, fruits, and flowers with which the lion throne is traditionally packed. The stupa is 24 feet high, and construction was supervised by sangha architect David Garrett and sangha builder Don Beamish, both of whom collaborated to construct the Abbey’s three-year retreat center.

The stupa symbolizes the fact that the Buddhist community and teachings have genuinely taken root in Nova Scotia. Thrangu Rinpoche has stated that Gampo Abbey fulfills a critical role in the Shambhala vision of creating enlightened society in Nova Scotia, by preserving the Buddhist teachings in their pure and unadulterated form.