Friday, December 30, 2005
I had planned on returning to the project at the temple I'd been working on all week today. But after Sojong, our ordained confession practice, I found myself compelled to circumambulate the Stupa. Despite the overcast skies and cool temps, the peace and quiet supported contemplation of confession. In this practice confession isn't as much about "sin" as it is personal honesty and taking responsibility for one's thoughts and actions. On my way out to the Stupa I had quite the material reflection of this task!
I have no idea what all that is, but I do know that at some point (hopefully before green starts popping out of all those vines and bushes) we'll have to go through all this. Now that we have a truck, we can seriously begin to address some of these construction dump sites.
Evidently we have more scaffolding that we realized. I couldn't get in too close (wearing robes and a long wool coat, many thorns and sticker bushes already tangling around me). This shed is now obviously in disrepair, as well as the debris surrounding it. However, it is interesting to note the resources we've overlooked...
The dogs and I headed home after the walk. Though there is much work to do, sometimes it is also important to just utilize the Stupas and land for what they exist for, healing, peace, and contemplation. Thus, even though most of what you see on these pages reflects the work we put into keeping the Stupas in good repair, trust that even us Stupa folks can take a break from the tools and labor long enough to remember why we're doing all this.
It is certain that all who see these Stupas, whether here online or in person, are benefited by them. It is our sincere wish that you will take advantage of this profound opportunity. The Stupas are here for all of you, whoever you are.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
We all spent the morning today working on a temple project, but once we got a lunch break we headed for Lowe's to work out plans for an altar for the Enlightenment Stupa. Norbu had the idea of using this material, a composite, since it requires so little maintenance. When you are the repair crew, you think this way...the proximity of the home center to a Starbucks was a bonus...
It was dark and cloudy, but I tried my best to get some shots. Here Molly tries to get an idea what we're looking for. She's come to work up an estimate on a retaining wall around Migyur Dorje. We've long been told we need to get earth up to that "earth hugging layer" which is the bottom step there, and although we've explored options involving concrete pours and doing it ourselves, we decided to see what it would cost to have professionals construct one. It may well be out of the question in terms of cost, but if you don't ask, you'll never know! Molly was so impressed with the temple and Migyur Dorje, that she asked to see all the Stupas!
Molly ended up with a tour of all the Stupas! Here's the gang at the Enlightenment Stupa by the parking lot, taking her for one last round of circumambulations before everyone headed out. Evening had fallen, and mercifully I did pull out my tripod. The earlier photos were wicked poor (those point and shoots are designed that way for a reason!). I'm still learning my way around this new camera, trying to work in manual exposure mode to learn how to meter. I'm not doing too well right now, but as with everything else, I'm learning from my errors. One thing I've learned is that until I get better at this, a few bracketed shots isn't a bad idea! ; ) For now, I'll leave you with a view of the Stupa at dusk. The Stupas are a source of amazing blessings, for all who encounter them, Buddhist or not. So please do come see them for yourselves!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The first thing I did today when I got to the temple was check the gau. We've had rain, drops in temperature, and lots of transitions in the weather. These are factors that have, in the past, caused fog and condensation to develop in the gau. So far, it appears our seal has worked, and the gau remains dry!
I am engaged in a project at the temple this week other than the Stupas (don't worry, there are Stupa items on the agenda as well!), so there's a focus on planning and prioritizing...
Send the ani with the camera to the hardware store and what do you get? A visual shopping list. : ) This is a portable firepot, complete with screened in lid. Though we aren't able to get something like this now, as the Stupas are getting tended into shape, we've thought about having practices out there. One that we do regularly is a smoke offering, where fragrent woods and cedar boughs are burned as offerings along with many prayers. Currently there is no longer a way to do this at either of the more remote Stupas (Migyur Dorje or Long Life) so this is a portable, manageable option.
It has long been discussed that the Stupas need altars for offerings. Currently, the only one with such an arrangment is the Long Life Stupa.
Generally it is not considered auspicious to place offerings on the Stupa itself. Thus far we've left this kind of work for a time when the Stupas themselves are either in the condition we hope for, or, as is the case now, weather prevents us from continuing our efforts towards that goal. With winter solidly here, we've begun to gather our long list of back burner items for review. One of the things we found that we could address during these cold months is the creation of altars for the Stupas. Norbu suggested a composite type decking material, as it would be more durable than wood, but less cumbersome than concrete. Though I was at Lowe's for painting related items, I couldn't help but check out the options. Here's a look...It isn't wood, so won't rot or attract insects like wood, but will take paint, can be sanded and such...
Thus, our list doesn't actually shrink...it just changes. Finally the gau appears (so far) to be in good shape. Though the winter is pinching our agenda, we're continuing to develop plans to not only complete the renovation, but to actually complete the Stupas as had been intended. Despite my work on another project this week, there are still "action items" on my Stupa list to complete, so keep checking in!
Of course, you can always come see them for yourself! Their blessings are open to all, radiating from them as ceaselessly as rays from the sun...
Sunday, December 25, 2005
This is Guru Rinpoche from yesterday, after we replaced the freshly dry-cleaned brocade. When I looked out the window today at work (no holidays for hospital nurses) I noticed it was raining. I just had to check in at the temple and get a report...we worked so hard yesterday to seal the chamber. Lisa, whose mind was on the same track, checked, and so far so good! She said she couldn't see any evidence that the rain was getting in there, and so far the plexi isn't clouding up! We'll be checking it out at the earliest opportunity from up on the Stupa, to get a close look and confirm that we've at least temporarily succeeded.
For now, I'm off to bed in preparation for another day at the hospital. It is the sincere hope of all those on this team that all who see this blog rejoice in the blessing of having seen a Stupa, and that you may perhaps even be motivated to come visit them in person. They're here for you 24 hours a day, every day, offering their peace and blessings. No need to be Buddhist, no need to even understand what they are. So please do come when you can!