AcharyaNyima.com

AcharyaNyima.com

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THE TIBETAN BUDDHIST TEMPLE
by H.H. the Dalai Lama Trans, Acharya Nyima Tsering

All sentient beings including humans wish for happiness and wish to avoid pain. Pleasure and pain arise from causes and conditions. If one wishes for happiness, one must acquire the cause of happiness and work for the elimination of suffering. The ultimate cause of pleasure and pain depends on whether the mind is tamed or not. So, for the attainment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, one should strive in the means to transform the mind.

Great wise sages of the old have shown many methods for transforming the mind. Among these, the Teachings of Lord Buddha, with their limitless scope, are in perfect harmony with reason and logic in all their aspects of “base, path and result”. It has been more than two thousand five hundred years since the Buddha Dharma came into existence and still, there are 500 million Buddhists in this world.

The followers of Lord Buddha strive to attain Enlightenment through the Path of the union of wisdom and method, by relying on the two Truths and the Four Noble Truths. In order to accomplish such attainment, one must know the path, which leads to Buddhahood. In general, if one builds images of the Buddha, stupas, and publishes the rare scriptural teachings, etc. these things will leave new positive imprints on many sentient beings who will see, remember, hear and touch. They will also instill a person with virtous motives, awaken positive dispositions and act as conditions for remembering the past virtuous deeds. All these are preliminary methods for a correct understanding of the path to Buddhahood.

The people of Tibet, in particular, were fortunate to have in their midst the organic symbol of the deity of Infinite Compassion(Avalokitesvara) housed in the central cathedral (Tsuglag Khang ) in Lhasa, forming the presiding figure among what is now widely known as “Five Self-Created Exalted Ones”. In the year 1966, in the wake of the cultural devastation, this image of Avalokitesvara was dismantled and ravaged to the ground. However, in the same year, the Tibetan people were able to smuggle out of Tibet the disfigured portion of the image’s head, which had, fortunately, its sacred contents intact. Thus, with a profound sense of joy and happiness, we Tibetans were able to build a new image of compassionate deity Avalokitesvara, furnished with all the sacred contents brought from Tibet. Compelled by the necessity of having to house the image in a spacious cathedral which could serve of worship and dissemination of discourses on the Dharma, this Cathedral was built and open to public in the year 1969, corresponding to the earth-fowl year of the 16th Rabjung year of the Tibetan calendar.

IMAGE HOUSED IN THE CATHEDRAL (BUDDHA SHAKYAMUNI)

The Buddha The Shakyamuni Buddha is the principal image placed at the center of the cathedral. He is the fourth Savior among the thousand Buddhas who have appeared in this decadent period. There are yet many Buddhas to appear during the aeon of good fortune. In the words of Nagarjuna,

“I make obeisance to Gautam Buddha Who, out of his infinite compassion,
Preached the excellent Dharma, So as to discard all other wrong doctrines”.

The image of the Buddha is over nine feet high from the lotus seat, and is made of gilded bronze, built in accordance with the lineal measurement described in the text.


THE GURU PADMA SAMBHAVA

Guru Padma Sambhava The image of Padma Sambhava is located at the right side of the cathedral. In the 8th century, during the reign of King Trisong Deutsen of Tibet, when the cathedral of Samye was being built, Padma Sambhava, whom Tibetans reverently address as Guru Rinpoche subdued all the enemies of the Dharma. Inspired by an indomitable will and motivated with boundless benevolence, he laid the foundation for a secure flourishing of the Buddha Dharma in Tibet. The greatness of Padma Sambhava can be gauged from the paraphrase of homage made by His Holiness Gendun Gyatso, the second Dalai Lama. He says: “I genuflect with sincere respects to the accomplished Tantric Sage, Guru Padma Sambhava who manifested different forms of reincarnations of supreme enlightened personalities, such as the revered vajra Pani rJe Tsongkhapa and the glorious Atisha, the precious crown Jewel of 500 wise men”.

Panchen Rinpoche (Lobsang Chos Kyi Gyaltsan Pal Sangpo) has also paid tributes to Padma Sambhava in identical terms. “In the old times, Padma Sambhava lived as the accomplished tantric sage, and later, as glorious Atisha, Dipankar shri gyan, he appeared as the father of all rJe Tsongkhapa, in this decadent period, performing various emanation of scholars and adepts through miraculous Dharmakaya”. Tibetan people have a special reverence for him and look upon him with gratitude for the many deeds and great performances displayed by him for the sake of Buddhism and for the happiness of living beings dwelling in the Land of Snow. His protection and blessings are especially needed at this time when Tibet is suffering so much under the aggressor’s barbarian rule. May his blessing and might act to dispel all hindrances in the manner as a heap of sand dissolves itself. The cool, solace-providing image of Padma Sambhava measures over 12 feet high from the lotus seat and is made of gilded bronze polished with gold. Located on the western side of the cathedral, the image is seen facing towards Tibet.

THE SILVER IMAGE OF DEITY AVALOKITESVARA

Chenrezig Songtsen Gampo first built the image of Avalokitesvara in the 7th Century. Located in one of the northern rooms of the central cathedral in Lhasa (also known as Jokhang or Rasa Trulnang Tsuglag Khang), it has been the object of offering and worship by Tibetan people for more than one thousand three hundred years. Through out this long progression of time it never faced deterioration, mutation or alteration. Rare and valuable as it is, the self-created five-possessor image of Avalokitesvara is exceptionally sacred. In the recent times, the Chinese Communist occupation regime in Tibet conducted a so-called ‘Cultural Revolution,’ which was nothing but acts of vandalism, perversion and xenophobia. It resulted in the most barbarous annihilation of the old culture, including the destruction of icons and cultural objects. In 1966, the cultural and religious objects housed in the central cathedral were subjected to the maniacal fury of destruction. The image of Avalokitesvara was disfigured, removed and thrown to the streets. Unmindful of the risks involved, Tibetan people were able to smuggle out of Tibet one wrathful and one peaceful form of the Avalokitesvara’s facial image. Passing from one Tibetan to another, these facial images reached India, via Nepal, in 1967. Later on, in 1968, another wrathful facial image of Avalokitesvara and one face of Amitabha were able to reach India through Nepal under similar circumstances.

It is unfortunate and a pity that we are deprived of seeing the self-evolved image of Avalokitesvara with our eyes, which was built by King Song tsen Gampo so many hundreds of years ago. However, the newly built image of Avalokitesvara which contains the original contents of the images brought from Tibet, and which has its originally consecrated formula intact is a good substitute for the original image. The idea of building a new image of deity Avalokitesvara was conceived primarily with special intention as an auspicious omen for the meritorious conditions and the temporal and ultimate welfare of the people of Tibet. This white-silver image of Avalokitesvera built in accordance with the white palmo tradition has eleven faces, a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. It is thirteen feet high from the lotus seat and was built in the year 1970, corresponding to Iron Dog year of Tibetan calendar. The consecrated formulas contained within the body of the images are strictly in accordance with the prescription detailed in the sacred literature. The central image is comprised of the three-faced image of the self-evolved image of Avalokitesvara.

There is no difference between the statue, which was housed in the central cathedral in Lhasa and the new one built in India. Therefore, faithful devotees can pay homage and make offerings to it, for it is one and the same as the image of the previous Avalokitesvara. This silver image of Avalokitesvara is seated facing east towards Tibet. The reason for this is to augur well for the image to be returned to Tibet later on, after its temporary residence in this cathedral.

The new cathedral is graced by the permanent presence of the three principal images of Shakyamuni Buddha, Padma Sambhava and Avalokitesvara. Besides this, it also houses one hundred volumes of Kangyur, 225 volumes of Tengyur, and a host of other smaller images and stupas of gilded bronze and bell metal. These will remain constantly in the midst of sentient beings so that they might accumulate merit while they are not able to attain the highest state of enlightenment. The holy images and spiritual texts, which were consecrated and blessed with “life” through the accomplishment of the mandala of highest yoga tantra, and the rites of the Consecration of “Ocean of Virtues”, are the means to attain the right path of enlightenment through seeing, hearing and remembering.

This cathedral was completed within a record period of nine months, employing about thirty Tibetan and Indian craftsmen, and about seventy to eighty Tibetan laborers. Avoiding grand designs, the architectural structure of the cathedral was patterned on a basis of earthly simplicity. The total cost of constructing the cathedral was about two lakh Indian rupees.

Seven Tibetan artisans spent a total period of one year and eight months in completing the three principal images housed in the cathedral. Gold, silver, copper, mercury, diamond, pearl, turquoise, coral and other precious metals and stones were used in embellishing the images. All in all, the total cost of building the three images including the cost of labor and other miscellaneous expenses was over three lakh Indian rupees.

The total expenditure for the construction of the cathedral and its images exceeded five lakh Indian rupees. Donations and contributions in cash and kind, received expressly for the purpose of construction of the cathedral and the images, were two lakh thirteen thousand and nine hundred Indian rupees. The remaining cost of two lakh eighty-six thousand and one hundred Indian rupees was made up from the amounts offered by the Tibetan people to collect merit for the dead ones, and to collect merit for themselves.

Thus, the construction of this cathedral and its images implicate the congregation of the possible heaps of skilful merits under one roof. It also implies the convergence of all acts of virtue and its accompanying generating forces performed by oneself and others in the three divisions of time, in one central place. By virtues of these qualifying factors, let me direct my sincere prayers of thanks to those faithful ones, “dead or living”, who came forward with their material assistance, to those supervisors, workers, craftsmen and volunteers who contributed their might in words, thoughts and deeds. To all these beings who are fortunate in seeing, hearing, remembering or coming into sense contact with the cathedral and its images, may they be absorbed in the radiance of Avalokitesvara’s benign blessings through all their periods of Samsaric existence. May all of them make rapid progress in the path of the perfect enlightenment and the true stage of the path of liberation, and soon achieve the non-dual status of Vajra Dhara with its accompanying attributes of the ten powers and five divine wisdom. Pray that the people of Tibet are soon freed from the aggression and slavery of barbaric Chinese Communist rule, and may they, like other human beings, be able to breathe the free air of freedom. May the world be free of pestilence, diseases, famine, war and conflicts, and may constructive tranquility flourish in every quarter, securing peace, abundance, amity, good will and happiness among all mankind. Let these prayers of mine which I offer with all intensity have their desired results.

This souvenir booklet, containing a brief explanation of the cathedral at Theckchen Choeling, is composed with words of prayer by Shakya Bhikshu Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, in the year 1970 C.E., 2515th year since Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, 2097th year since the founding of the state of Tibet heralded by the reign of the king Nyatri Tsenpo, Iron-Dog year of the16th Rabjung of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the 15th of October, 1970.