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 Chögyam 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 Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s request that his relics be distributed between RMSC (now Drala Mountain Center, Colorado) Karme Chöling (Vermont) and Gampo Abbey. Thrangu Rinpoche consecrated the completed stupa in 2001.

According to Thrangu 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.

Thrangu 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. The local community has benefited from increased tourism that the stupa has brought to the region. Thrangu Rinpoche has expressed confidence that the stupa can help bring prosperity and well-being both to the Abbey and to the surrounding community.


The Process

Thrangu 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 that traditionally pack the lion throne. Construction of the 24 foot high structure was supervised by sangha architect David Garrett and sangha builder Don Beamish, both of whom also collaborated to construct the Abbey’s three-year retreat centre.

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 creating enlightened society in Nova Scotia, by preserving the Buddhist teachings in their pure and unadulterated form.

The Stupa of Enlightenment is maintained by generous donations. If you would like to support the ongoing repairs and maintenance please visit our donations page