Consecration of the Stupa of Dharmakaya
Talk by Ven Thrangu Rinpoche, translator Eric Forgeng
Gampo Abbey August 26, 2001
Thank you to all of you for coming, possibly from a very long distance away, to this place. It makes me very very happy to see that people have faith in the Dharma to the extent that they will come to see a monument to the Buddhadharma such as this stupa and its consecration. Thank you very much for coming.
There are three objects of our practice known as the three rare and supreme sources of refuge, the three rare and supreme ones, the three jewels, which are the Buddha the Dharma and the sangha. Of these three the Buddha also has three aspects. These are the dharmakaya, the body of ultimate reality; the sambogakaya, the body of enjoyment, and the nirmanakaya, or the body of emanation. These three levels of understanding make up what we call the rare and supreme Buddha. All of these three are the objects of our visualizations and they each have a particular way in which we relate to them. The nirmanakaya aspect of the Buddha was the Buddha Shakyamuni with whom we are all familiar. The sambogakaya aspect of the Buddha is the Buddha Vajradhara.
The dharmakaya aspect of the Buddha cannot be visualized. It has no form; it is beyond anything we can say about it. It is the ultimate nature of the Buddha's mind, which is endowed with three characteristics - omniscience, omnipotence and limitless love. If we could put that inexpressible aspect of the Buddha's mind into a form, it would be the form of this stupa. The stupa is a manifestation of the dharmakaya, that aspect of buddhahood that cannot really be described or visualized.
In order for us to realize the dharmakaya we need a support for our practice, an object with which we can relate, for our supplications, prayers and so forth. So the process of building a monument such as this stupa is extremely important. The process of planning it, building it, the process of consecrating it, making offerings, circumnambulating it, making supplications and so forth, making a connection of our minds with the dharmakaya in this way is extremely important and is a very profound practice.
There are three more aspects of the Buddha, his body, speech, and mind. In order to realize these three aspects, enlightened body, enlightened speech and enlightened mind, we have three supports for our practice. Examples of enlightened form, representations of the Buddha's body, are statues, paintings and so forth of the Buddha Amitabha, though Medicine Buddha, Sanggye Menla and many others, all of the different manifestations of the Buddha that we can see and make offerings to and supplications to and try to model ourselves after.
As far as the Buddha's speech - we weren't able to actually be present with the Buddha Shakyamuni to hear him teach the 84,000 collections of Dharma, but it has been recorded in written form and is available down to the present day in the form of the volumes of the collected sutras and oral teachings of the Buddha (the kanjur), and the derivative Dharma (the tenjur) the commentaries and shastras on the Buddha dharma and all of the collected teaching that are authoritative dharma that have come down to the present day. So the object of the Buddha's speech exists in written for and is taught to us by many qualified masters.
The Buddha's mind as said before cannot be described or conceptualized, but it is represented in the form of this stupa. So this is a tangible representation of the Buddha's jewel-like mind. It is the dharmakaya itself, if we could make form of it. It is a representation of the buddha's omniscience, omnipotence and limitless love.
So in order to realize the three aspects of the Buddha's body, speech and mind, it is important to supplicate them, to try to make a connection to them, with reverence and devotion. So this stupa, and stupas in general are consecrated with mantras and with prayers and aspirations and so forth so that it is imbued as far as possible with the dharmakaya and so it is a fit tangible object of what cannot really be related to. Making supplications to the Buddha's mind is the most important of the three aspects, and really the main point of practice is to try to connect and try to realize the ultimate nature of mind.
This stupa has been very well built and the construction has been accomplished in a very complete and beautiful manner, but still this is just the physical aspect of it. At this point it needs to be consecrated for it to be an actual physical representation of the Buddha's mind.
The consecration process has three parts to it. The first is known as clearing away obstructions, the gek jangwa which is a process that is ongoing in each of the sessions of the ceremonies. It is part of the ritual. The problem is that there are many beings around us who are hostile and who are very angry and jealous and have harmful attitudes. These may not be human beings; they simply exist in this place. They are the owners of this ground, the ground that's not owned by anybody else. They are what you might call the local deities or the landlords and so forth that inhabit this place. So it is first necessary to make friends with them and to ask their permission for the construction of something of this importance. So it is very important to pacify them, so they are offered torma, which is an offering of food that is visualized as something very desirable, that is given to an otherwise hostile being to transform its harmful attitudes and jealousy and anger into peace and loving kindness and compassion. The local deities who might cause harm are offered the torma and are then asked to leave the pace and not cause any problems. So this is the first part, pacifying all obstacles and difficulties in the place and creating a peaceful and compassionate environment where the consecration of the stupa can take place.
The second of the three parts is know as the tru or the purification or washing ritual, which you have also been seeing. Generally speaking there are inner faults that need to be purified and outer faults that need to be purified. The inner faults are things that occur in the minds of people who are building the stupa. I am sure that everybody did their best to construct this stupa with the purest possible motivation, a desire to be altruistic, to benefit other sentient beings and with nothing but the finest state of mind. This I know was the case, but because we are human beings, things arise in our minds all the time. We are constantly having small blips of jealousy or pride or other negative emotions that arise without our intention. The purification part of the ceremony purifies any lingering residue of such incidental internal faults.
Outer faults are such things as faults in the material that the stupa is constructed with, maybe some sort of impurity in the concrete, maybe there's a problem with small faults in the shape or small mistakes made in any aspect of the construction and also faults in the offerings that are arranged. All these various things that can crop up, just errors and omissions that occur inevitably in the course of a complicated construction project like this.
What's done then is that the form of the stupa in its completed state is reflected in a mirror and then the reflection, which is purer, being apparent but not substantial, being nothing you can cling to, is washed with the blessed nectar; the water from the vase which is consecrated with mantra. This completely purifies any residual stains and defilements that might still be present, either on an inner level or an outer level. This is a profound method of the vajrayana to purify obscurations and defilements of any kind, even the subtlest ones.
The third part of the process is known as the consecration or rapna this is the final act. Once the stupa has been constructed and has been made as perfect as possible physically, there are various sacred substances, blessings of various kinds that are placed inside the stupa so that it is imbued with whatever physical blessings it is possible to collect. Then there is the process of invoking the actual yeshepas or deities of pristine awareness to come from the dharmakaya and dissolve into the stupa. We visualize them dissolving into the stupa and actually inhabiting it. Ordinarily we have some sort of dualistic clinging in our minds that is just our natural state of confusion, thinking that these primordial awareness beings exist somewhere else and that they have to come from somewhere and dissolve into this monument that we've built. But if we think like that, then the consecration can't happen because there are always impurities in our visualization and in the substance and this doesn't mix with the actual enlightened beings. So the consecration cannot happen in that dualistic state of mind. So what we need to do is develop a state of incomparable reverence and devotion in our minds and a completely pure vision so that our minds are merged with the enlightened mind of the buddhas, which is the embodiment of omniscience, omnipotence and limitless love. Then the consecration can really happen.
The fact that this stupa has been constructed in this place is really the result of Trungpa Rinpoche coming here and establishing the Dharma in this place, here on Cape Breton Island in the first place. This stupa is a wonderful occurrence and an extremely beautiful monument to Trungpa Rinpoche's dharma activity. But it took the hard work of many people to bring it about. On the outer level, the beautiful form and siting and all of the incredibly skilled work that went into creating this stupa was the result of an architect and engineers and skilled stonemasons and skilled concrete workers and very devoted and generous patrons. I am grateful for the extraordinarily beautiful accomplishment of the form of this stupa and I offer my thanks to everyone who was involved with it. Its an absolutely outstanding piece of work.
For the inner accomplishment of the stupa there were many blessing substances that had to be collected and arranged properly. The inner construction is equally as important as the outer form in order for it to be an object of supplication. This was primarily the work of lama Karma Phuntsok and lama Tashi, who came here and worked very hard. They are lamas endowed with extraordinary qualities and they accomplished this absolutely impeccably. So for their hard work on the inner aspects of the stupa, I am also very grateful and would like to express my thanks.
This stupa will be a great support for us in the future as an object that we can use as a focus for our reverence and devotion and we can accumulate merit by our connection with it. So I thank you very much for your faith and devotion in coming to this consecration and I hope that in the future we can make use of the opportunity to use this stupa as an object for our aspirations, as a place to come to meditate, a place to do circumambulation practice. This is a profound practice in Buddhism, to regard this monument as the physical embodiment of the Buddha's mind we can regard it as the mind of Shakyamuni Buddha, the mind of buddhas in general, the mind of our own root teacher in particular would be extremely beneficial. If we can do that, walk around it and think that we are really circumnambulating and revering our own root teacher, the Buddha's mind itself, our own mind will continually improve. Not like taking drugs and drinking, where our mind just gets worse and worse and worse. With this kind of practice our mind gets better and better and better, and our compassion and our wisdom grow more and more and our mind becomes more like the absolute essence of enlightenment. So this is a very profound practice, which we should do. So thank you and Tashi Deleg.