Sunday, July 31, 2005
This is a photo from last Thursday, the last day we worked on the Stupas. I couldn't take more shots that day as it was just Norbu and I out there. So, tomorrow I'll be back out (finally!) and will at least get a shot of how the spire looks without paint! I'm hoping we'll find someone willing to truck water for us, so we can move on to the bumpa, but no one lined up yet...We will find something to do though! For certain!
It's a short post tonight, worked a lot and am sleepy. : ) But wanted to touch base, this process much benefit to anyone who views these images, so I am happy to make the time every day! These precious structures bring benefit to all beings, just through seeing them. Even the images here! So if you can, do visit them in person. You won't regret it...they are not only beautiful, but their potent blessings are real. You can feel it. And of course, I'm posting here even as I dream of bed because these photos will bring benefit to you also! So even if you can't get to Poolesville, you can always visit Stupas here!
Saturday, July 30, 2005
No, there's not something wrong with this picture. I've highlighted the foundation of the Stupa. I worked at the hospital today, and will tomorrow, so I'm returning to the time capsule to pull out some archival photos of the building of the Stupa.
Well, this photo is from last Thursday, not quite archival yet...but I've highlighted the foundation in order to begin a process of sharing some of the meaning behind each level of the Stupa. I'll combine that with photos of each level being built (where possible, they weren't quite as prolific with photos then, they were on film, and film requires cash to be developed, digital is much easier!).
So, as a start, this is the foundation. Here's what it represents:
This first level, the Sa Dzin (Foundation). Level which "contains the earth" symbolizes the ten positive actions of body, speech and mind. Foundation of practice.
It is our actions, our "conduct", which forms the foundation of our practice. The ten virtues are related to outer conduct.
Here's the concrete pour for the foundation. Norbu, try not to be jealous (he's always hoping for more able bodied guys to join the project!), we'll make it even without all the extra muscles! : ) I'm posting these "archival" images in order to show all that the work you see on these pages has roots from many years ago. Those you see today are the ones that actually built the Stupa, as you can see, from scratch. They are are members of our "sangha" or spiritual family. They are not hired, were not paid, and as you see now and will see in the future, coming together with the desire to bring such huge benefit to beings (none of us may be experts, but we all know how potent Stupas are!) empowers people from all different walks of life, backgrounds and experience levels to come to accomplish unbelievable things!
Here's a shot of the foundation from the window of the construction trailer on site, with the "plan" sitting in the window. Note the compass, Stupas are all built facing east.
Even the central channel (see photo posted yesterday) is created around a cedar log whose east facing area has been marked and noted throughout the process. Which is the "eastern face" of the log? It's the part of the tree that faced east when it grew from the ground, that direction is noted when cutting, then continually noted throughout the process to ensure the eastern face of the tree is placed facing east in the Stupa itself, which also faces east...even after the carving, painting and ornamentation of the tree into a full fledged shok shing!
Now, you may ask why east? Well, I'll have to try and figure that out...I am no expert. Just sharing some of what I've learned. : ) Sorry. But if it inspires you to learn more, I guarantee that's a good thing! Every aspect of a Stupa is a map to Enlightenment! Of course, no understanding is required to receive their blessings!
All the Stupas have been built, and are now being renovated, as an offering to you! To every sentient being (living creature) that has ever experienced, or will experience suffering. They require no fee, no understanding, not even faith. Just give them the benefit of the doubt, and come on out and soak up some blessings! And as always, if you can't get to Poolesville you can always visit here!
Friday, July 29, 2005
It had been my intention to take a photo of Migyur Dorje today, to show you how the spire looks after our efforts yesterday. (this photo is from yesterday afternoon). We finished so late yesterday it was dark, and I couldn't get a shot of the spire. There are no lights out here at night (the Enlightenment Stupa is lit 24 hours a day, great for midnight Stupa visits), so we couldn't even see how it looked. : ) Today it rained all day (that means we couldn't even apply stripper), so I got new tires for my car (long overdue) and Norbu worked. Thus, I'm returning to the history thread tonight...the following photos are from 1995, when this Stupa was being built...giving you a further glimpse inside...
This is a photo of some of the mantras that were prepared for Migyur Dorje. You can see how tiny the writing is, there are MILLIONS of prayers in there! If not more! They actually found a printer who would run the rolls through a saffron bath (mantras must all be coated with saffron prior to being placed in their covers, and then into the Stupa) after printing! How cool is that! Some of the mantras for the Stupa were rolled by hand. : )
So here's a view of the shok shing, or central channel. The relics which I posted a few days ago are fastened to specific locations on this tree, which will then correspond to specific points within the Stupa. There are mantras painted directly on it as well. So, this is a little bit more on what lies inside this amazing monument! Please do come out and visit them, whether we are working or not, we'll make way for you! The whole purpose for the Stupas is to bring benefit to beings, to provide a place of refuge, peace and healing. So even as we work, we'll do our best to keep this open to you. And of course, you can keep up on them here as well! You can even make offerings to them by the link on this page if you wish! Or make aspirational prayers...however you wish to receive their blessings, they are here for you, online, and in Poolesville, Maryland...
Thursday, July 28, 2005
After trying to get up to the sun and moon by climbing up the rings, Norbu decides we have to have another ladder up there. This system worked much better, especially once he started removing stripper. The chemical we use is slippery, and when you're up that high you want sure footing...
Here we go...the stripper actually being applied. Norbu is wearing layers up there, determined not to smell during his upcoming prayer shift (that may sound odd, but the chemical we're using has a really strong odor, body odor, in comparison, would not be as offensive). Unfortunately, he nearly overheated to accomplish that! When he came down later, he dunked a rag in the ice in our cooler and put it on his head to cool off, and steam came off him!
Here's how the spire looked as the stripper "dwelled". It may not look pretty, but it makes short work out of getting down to bare concrete, and it doesn't hurt the concrete at all...We let it sit for a few hours. Malik, who'd been with us all morning, went home, leaving just Norbu and I. So almost no pictures of the dramatic process of removing this stuff! I was on belay all evening, didn't want to risk using the camera...Norbu might fall...
This is the last shot I took today. We were taking a short break to fill the gas tanks and move the ladder. Norbu and I worked until 9 pm to get the spire free of paint. It was just the two of us all evening, so no photos except this one. Norbu wanted my full attention on belay! He handled his task with great courage and good humor, even as we both spent time contemplating death and impermanence. This is difficult, dangerous work. There is no question about it, Norbu has completed the most difficult task we've had to face. And I can tell you, he was giddy and smiling when it was all done, even though his face was flushed from irritating chemicals and his hands were white and wrinkled from being soaked in water far too long. Some of you reading may think we're crazy. What you see here are practitioners devoted to liberating every suffering being. This kind of activity is good practice!
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Today we did go out to Migyur Dorje. There was a temptation to put it all off until tomorrow...Norbu has the prayer chart this week (so he's got to fill in when no one else will), and the weather was extremely hot and humid. But we talked it out, and realized we actually weren't ready to spray and strip yet! It would take a few hours just to rig up the Stupa so we could get to the spire! So out we went...
After working on the Enlightenment Stupa, we decided to forgoe the platform for now and work with ropes and ladders. Norbu took it upon himself to rig everything (we all just stationed ourselves to hand stuff up to him). I don't know if it shows, but we were all covered in sweat almost instantly...it really was wicked hot today...