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A Statue to Last a Thousand Years
By Owen Cole
Blessing the Ground for a Huge Statue of Maitreya Buddha
During his speech at the official ceremony marking the Bhumi Puja Celebrations of the Maitreya Project in Bodgaya, India, on March 20, Lama Zopa Rinpoche said it was one of the happiest and most meaningful days of his life. “Our main goal is not building the statue, it is the peace happiness of all sentient beings. For that purpose we are building the Maitreya Buddha Statue,” he said.
It was the public launch of the cherished idea of his guru Lama Thubten Yeshe to build a large statue of the future Buddha, Lord Maitreya, in Bodhgava, India, the holy place of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. The main ceremony of the Bhumi (which means earth in Sanskrit) Puja Celchrations was held before 700 guests including high lamas, important government officials, international visitors and local people.
The tent in which the ceremony was conducted was a huge specially built structure on the forty-acre site of the project and was as close to a celestial mansion as you are likely to create in this part of the world. The roof and sides of the rent were pure white, and on the stage a twenty-meter high tangka of Shakyamuni Buddha was flanked by two vertical rows of tangkas depicting the great Indian Buddhist scholars of the past, a reminder that India is the home of Buddhism. There were 500 offerings to Maitreva Buddha on the stage and in the main part of the tent, special decorative lights, red carpet on the floor, hundreds of flowers, and even fans on the ceiling to relieve the March heat.
Among the 160 monks were four abbots from Sera, Drepung and Ganden Monasteries in south India, monks and lamas from Kopan Monastery in Nepal and from the various temples in Bodhgaya, about 160 people from overseas who came just for the ceremony, a number of high ranking officials from the Government of India and the Government of Bihar, the state in which Bodhgaya is located, the staff from the various FPMT projects in Bodhgaya and numerous local people. There was even a fleet of taxis and buses to transport guests between their hotels and the site of the ceremony.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was represented by Ven Doboom Rinpoche from New Delhi, and the celebrations were also graced by the great Sakya lama, His Eminence Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche. The Vice President of India, K.R. Narayanan and the Governor of Bihar, A.R. Kidwai, accepted invitations to attend but the announcement of national elections just before the ceremony forced them to cancel. The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India attended and delivered a speech on the benefits of Buddhism.
Prayers were chanted by the monks and by nuns from Taiwan, followed by prayers from representatives of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Christian faiths. The representative of the Muslim religion was unable to attend due to ill health.
All the high ranking government officials emphasized in their speeches the great need in today s world for the qualities of loving kindness and compassion I represented by Lord Maitreya, and that a powerful antidote is needed to counteract the prevailing negative forces of selfishness, disease, disharmony, warfare and natural disasters. They all emphasized that the building of the Maitreya Statue will help bring about a change towards peace, happiness and harmony in the world.
The particular characteristic of Maitreya Buddha is loving kindness, and this quality seems to have motivated so many people to lend their support to the project. Messages of support were received from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the President of India, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Governor of Bihar and the Chief Minister of Bihar.
For three days before the ceremony, the monks from Gyume Tantric College and Geshe Lama Konchog from Kopan Monastery conducted fire pujas on the land to clear hindrances to the ceremony marking the start of the project to build this 421-foot (128-meter) statue. The actual land-breaking ceremony was conducted by the lamas early in the morning on the day of the main ceremony.
Journalists from the nearby town of Gaya and the state capital, Patna, attended the event, which received wide coverage in the Hindi and English language newspapers as well as on All India Radio. All media outlets reported favorably on the project, with one describing the statue as a Taj Mahal of the state. Others said that the audio-visual displays associated with the project would emphasize India’s contribution to the world’s spiritual development.
During the previous week the Governor’s office in Patna organized a media conference in the Governor’s palatial residence which also received good publicity. The events were also videotaped by a crew from a popular cultural program in Taiwan, and Sydney film maker Cheryl Gough was there to make a documentary on the celebrations.
As anyone who has traveled around India will testify, it’s not easy to organize more than 700 people to come to one place, look after them while they are there and put together an elegant temporary building in which to conduct a celebration. The fact that it all happened so smoothly is due to the extraordinary organizing powers of Project Director, the Ven Marcel and his team. It’s a great sign for the success of the rest of the project.
The 421-foot [128-meter] Maitreya statue, to be built on forty acres of land just outside Bodhgaya, will be made to such a high standard that it will last for more than a thousand years. It is estimated that this multi-million dollar project will take eight to ten years to complete.
Exact costs are not yet known but the biggest statue in the world at present, a 394-foot [120-meter] standing Amitabha Buddha outside Tokyo, cost about US$30,000,000.
Maitreya Buddha will be depicted in a sitting posture and will be a marvelous feat of timeless beauty and modern, precision-engineering requiring the latest computer technology.
The throne supporting the statue will be approximately 200 feet (61 meters) by 75 feet (23 meters) by 105 feet (32 meters) high, and inside will be
- a large temple
- a high-tech audio-visual display showing short programs in Hindi, English and other languages on themes such as the history and attractions of Bodhgaya, Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and teachings, and India’s contribution to world civilization, philosophy and religion
- a Buddhist library
- teaching facilities
- access to the statue itself
The statue will be in a magnificent park containing
- beautiful flowers and vegetation
- various holy statues, pools and fountains
- lighting displays
- a children’s playground
- meditation pavilions
- a miniature train encircling the park
- a guest house
- a restaurant and shopping complex
- an information center
- a monastery and teaching center
- staff accommodation
The park will be open without charge to people of all creeds, classes and religions.
The next stage of the project will be to build a stone wall around the land, then a guest house and staff quarters. But the most important is the fundraising so this vision can be transformed into a reality.
Economic Bodhgaya is located in the state of Bihar, one of the poorest and least developed areas of India. Local and state authorities, who fully and enthusiastically support the project, anticipate that the Maitreya statue will bring tremendous economic benefits to the region.
Hundreds of skilled and semi-skilled workers will be employed, both during the construction phase and after the completion of the statue. Authorities are confident that the project will attract further investments, altogether injecting a great deal of money into the economy of Bihar and beyond.
And inevitably there will be a significant increase in tourism. Large statues of Buddhas are revered in Buddhist countries as powerful objects of virtue. Visited by millions in many parts of the world, they are a proven tourist attraction. The Maitreya status will provide Bodhgaya with a powerful new object of interest for domestic and international visitors.
Environmental The project will transform a piece of uncultivated land into one of the most beautifully vegetated areas in the country, and the reforestation expertise required to do this will have flow-on effects way beyond the immediate area of the park.
Religious Through the ages human beings have constructed monuments out of religious devotion. Whoever worked on or contributed to these monuments created great merit, the cause of future happiness. Once built, these objects of worship also provided continued inspiration for many generations of followers.
In this era of violence, warfare, poverty, disease and natural disasters, there is a great need to develop universal loving kindness to dispel these problems and bring much peace and happiness to the world and the universe. Maitreya Buddha particularly expresses the quality of loving kindness, the wish that others be happy.
The only way to have peace and happiness in the world and eliminate problems such as war, famine, disease, disharmony, killing and so forth is to generate loving kindness in the mind. As Lama Zopa Rinpoche said (see page 35), “Maitreya Buddha is the embodiment of all the buddha’s loving kindness, therefore this status is essential for the cause of love and happiness in this world.”
Visitors to the status will develop respect and admiration for the buddhas and their qualities, which is among the causes for developing such qualities within themselves.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said (see page 34), “I pray that the project may be successfully fulfilled, becoming an inspiration for peace and happiness throughout the world, now and in the future.”
Social The placing of the statue in Bodhgaya will highlight India’s great contribution to and enrichment of world civilization, philosophy, religion, culture and art. It will help visitors appreciate that India is the home of several of the world’s great religions and civilizations.
Images of Maitreya Buddha feature prominently in the art of early Buddhist sculptors that flourished under the Khushan rule in the first and second centuries AD. Countless images have been found throughout the Indian subcontinent. The famous Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hsien and Hsuan Tsang, from the 4th and 7th centuries respectively, described very large images of Maitreya in several places in India. They recorded them in Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, in Bodhgaya flanking the door of the Mahabodhi temple, and further south in the Chola country. Both pilgrims reported a famous statue of Maitreya at the foot of a high mountain pass in Darel in northern Kashmir. Maitreya images are also found in the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
The Great Cultural Show
The second day of the celebrations was fun day with a cultural show put on by the Kopan monks, the Indo-Tibetan Cultural Association and children from local villages. The show, organized by Kathy Vichta of Chenrezig Institute in Australia, sent the cameras into a frenzy, and in the words of one of the foreign guests was up to international standard.
The Kopan monks have been taught the ritual dances by Geshe Lama Konchog, a learned lama who was educated at Sera Monastery in Tibet, and a dear friend of Lama Yeshe. Before the Chinese occupation he traveled widely throughout Tibet studying the rituals of various lineages. The ritual dances have been taught at Kopan to preserve the Tibetan cultural tradition. They are more than just entertainment, however, as they facilitate purification of the mind of the person performing the dance as well as the minds of those watching, planting the seed of the enlightened mind represented in the dance.
The monks were also involved in the making of the elaborate costumes and masks, the designs of which were based on Geshe Lama Konchog’s memory of those he saw in Tibet.
There was the sword dance in which four wrathful manifestations of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri, each wielding a sword with the powerful movements symbolizing the destruction of the defilements and human and non-human beings that cause the suffering of the beings of the three realms. Another of the dances, The Pleasing Dance of the Sky Walkers, is usually performed at long life pujas where the sky walkers, or dakinis, invite the practitioners with high realizations to come with them to the pure land.
Other dances were done by the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Association, a group of 14 Tibetans living in the northeastern Indian mountain of Kalimpong. The founding member of the troop came from Tibet but the others were born in India. They have been dancing together for 12 years and have become expert in both ritual dancing and the cultural folk dances of Tibet. Last year the troop toured Britain and Holland where they performed in more than 20 cities.
The troop performed one of the oldest dances from Tibet, the Drum Dance, in which the performers dance, play drums and sing praises to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The dance is said to have been performed at the inauguration of the construction of the first monastery in Tibet, Samye Monastery.
They then performed that old favorite, the Yak Dance, which is a mark of appreciation to the audience and wishes them good luck. But the dance that brought the house down was the Snow Lion Dance in which the mischievous animals kept blinking their eyes and flicking their ears at the local children. High lamas and village children alike were reduced to helpless laughter.
But the most moving performance was by a group of young children from poor villages in Bodhgaya in which Root Institute has been conducting social work programs. They performed a play with a message by an Indian playwright and were trained by Root’s social worker, Kailash Prasad. He says the cultural performances in the villages are used to educate usually illiterate villagers about health, farming, employment and other issues and gives the children and their parents a tremendous sense of achievement.
The play concerns an old sick person who falls down a hole in the road in a town. Two government measuring experts come along and measure the hole but refuse to pull the man out. A policeman arrives on the scene and asks for a bribe, then along comes a rich foreign tourist who wants to know about the man’s life but does not get around to lifting him from the hole. The sad tale proceeds until the Root Institute social workers (the play was adapted slightly at this point) arrive on the scene and rescue the man with the punch line, “Our life is to help someone who has fallen down to get up.”
After the puja Lama Zopa thanked His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche for attending the ceremonies despite his heavy commitments, and also thanked him for his large donation to the project. Rinpoche then thanked the Tibetan monks for enduring hardships in travelling up from the south of India and said their protection pujas had been successful as the celebrations went so well. The success of this first function gives great confidence for the success of the rest of the project, he said.
On the third day more than 300 people climbed buses for a pilgrimage to the ruins of the ancient university of Nalanda and Rajgir where the Buddha conducted the second turning of the wheel of Dharma by teaching The Heart Sutra. A picnic was held under the trees at Nalanda before going on to Rajgir where Lama Zopa gave a talk and led a meditation on emptiness.
The Land Guru
Progress on the Maitreya Project so far would not have been possible without the huge effort of an academic who lives in Bodhgaya, Professor L.P. Singh. Three years ago Professor, as he is affectionately called, started working on the project after being associated with Lama Zopa Rinpoche for 12 years. Rinpoche’s instructions were to “make Professor Singh your guru on the acquisition of land.” Since then he has worked tirelessly, spending up to three months a year away from his family on business associated with the project.
Professor Singh passionately believes in the building of the Maitreya statue and the power of Lama Zopa Rinpoche to make it happen. “With Rinpoche’s blessings it will happen,” he often says. Initially he thought it would be impossible to get land but with Rinpoche’s blessings so many obstacles have been overcome.
According to Professor Singh it is unprecedented to get the support for such a project from the Government of India, and for the Bhumi Puja Celebrations he had messages of support from the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Governor and Chief Minister of the State.
Working on the project is his main spiritual practice and he throws himself at it with the passion and energy of a 20-year-old. He will keep knocking on the doors of bureaucrats and politicians until he is successful.
He has called a lifetime of contacts and favors in a state where it can be difficult to get things done. Bihar is considered one of the poorest states in India where services are often not good and corruption not uncommon. One of India’s best known industrialists said the only thing that moves in Bihar is the Ganga (the Ganges River, which flows through the north of the state). However, Professor proudly points out that the project has not had to pay a rupee in bribes and has been supported by all officials.
He believes people have the wrong idea about Bihar and that the Maitreya Project will prove that something of monumental significance can be done there. The state has been the cradle of great civilizations and has produced the great emperor Ashoka and the Gupta Dynasty, considered the golden period of Indian history. The fact that the government and people have endorsed the project shows they have a vision to create a new history that will revive the state to the material and spiritual glory of the past, he says.
“There is something special about this land as it has been predicted that Maitreya will come here and become enlightened at the same place as the present Buddha and teach the Dharma,” he says, and that the statue will create a new spiritual awareness. “The technological and scientific advancements are getting out of balance with our moral and spiritual performance and we must exercise control over ourselves instead of control over nature.”
Professor Singh believes Buddhism provides the techniques of moral discipline which will help stop the moral decline in the minds of the people of the world. “It is a historical necessity. If we do not create the right motivation in the minds of the people, then the human race and not just Bihar will be doomed.”
He believes the project is not just about installing a statue but is a revival of the traditions of Nalanda, the great historical Buddhist university near Bodhgaya. It will also actualize the teachings of Maitreya Buddha that stand for peace, harmony and compassion, which are so lacking in today’s world. “People are existing, but they are not living as human beings.”
Professor Singh believes that Lama Zopa is the greatest hope for the survival of the human race and thanks him for providing the chance to build this huge statue. He also believes that Lama Yeshe is one of the greatest Buddhist patriarchs of the 20th century as he brought Buddhism to the West and transformed the lives of so many people who would have otherwise been lost in this world.
A Source of Inspiration
His Holiness the Dalai Lama‘s message to the Bhumi Puja Celebrations, read by his special representative Ven. Doboom Rinpoche.
Down the ages human beings have constructed monuments in religions celebration. Whether the participants were skilled craftsmen or simple laborers or contributed in another way, they created great merit, the cause of future peace and happiness. For those who came afterwards such constructions have been a source of continued inspiration. The Jokhang, the principal temple of Lhasa, for example, remains to this day the major focus of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. Here in India, the Mahabodhi Temple and the celebrated statue it contains of Buddha Shakyamuni are an inspiration to millions of Buddhists all over the world.
We are approaching the end of a century that has seen greater violence and destruction than any other. Buddhist countries have not been unaffected. Many, afflicted with the scourge of totalitarian communism, have seen the wholesale destruction of temples and monasteries and suppression of the spiritual community. Others, subject to dictatorship, military invasion and terrorism, have had their freedom curtailed and their peaceful way of life disrupted.
The inauguration of the Maitreya Project, as this period of turmoil subsides and we enter a new era with hope for peace, is therefore timely. The quality of enlightenment that Maitreya particularly expresses loving kindness, the active wish that others be happy. Loving kindness is needed in all our relationships, whether on a personal or global level. Buddha Shakyamuni himself indicated that Maitreya would be the future Buddha. Developing respect and admiration for the buddhas and their qualities, as visitors to the statue will be encouraged to do, is among the causes for developing such qualities within themselves.
I welcome the establishment of the Maitreya Project in Bodhgaya where Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. On the occasion of the blessing of the land I offer my greetings to everyone involved.
I pray that the project may be successfully fulfilled, becoming an inspiration for peace and happiness throughout the world, now and in the future.
Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Lama Thubten Yeshe
Most venerable guests, distinguished guests, my dear friends.
I am very happy to meet all of you at this Bhumi Puja of the Maitreya statue. This statue is my contribution for peace and happiness in India, for peace and happiness in this world and for the peace and happiness of all sentient beings.
Therefore, everyone of us has the responsibility to actualize this project.
I wish all of us can meet again when the great statue of Maitreya is completed.
Thank you very much everyone.
An edited version of the address given by Doboom Rinpoche, special representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Bhumi Puja and director of Tibet House, New Delhi.
The choice of Bodhgaya as the site of the project has insured that the colossal statue of Maitreya will come up on land that has already acquired unparalleled sanctity as the bhumi on which the Buddha of our time, Shakyamuni, did penance and came by the great light of Bodhi. There’s no doubt the great light will continue to radiate the universal message of Buddhadharma from here, and there is no doubt that it will continue to guide humanity for many centuries to come.
It is on such a sacred site that the Maitreya Project will place another source that radiates the message of loving kindness, the status of Maitreya, the future Buddha, whose coming Shakyamuni Buddha of our time himself foresaw.
It is on this land sanctified by Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment that the statue of Maitreya will arise. The figure of Maitreya will remind humanity of the urgency for loving kindness. Our world is threatened by forces that can lead to disintegration, degeneration and disharmony. The integrity and peace that human life requires are threatened by selfishness and the desire for ego gratification. In the pursuit of such negative emotions and goals, we have created serious threats to other sentient beings and to the eco-system on which all life depends.
The antidote is loving kindness. The survival of humanity and our planet itself therefore depends on developing loving kindness and overcoming hatred. The message of Maitreya can save humanity and the environment and will serve to remind succeeding generations what loving kindness can do for individual minds, humanity and our planet.
Greeting the 700-strong audience at the auspicious occasion of the blessing of the ground for the huge statue of Maitreya – a heart wish of Lama Thubten Yeshe – Lama Zopa Rinpoche paid extensive homage to the buddhas, Dharma and Sangha, to the great pandits of the past, to the lamas, monks and nuns, representatives of other religions, as well as Indian government officials, other VIPs, and benefactors and students from around the world.
Rinpoche paid special homage to His Holiness Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche, “guru of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as my own guru;” to the special representative of the Dalai Lama, Doboom Rinpoche; to the abbots of Ganden, Sera and Drepung, “the learning centers where the complete Buddhadharma is preserved and developed.”
Rinpoche welcomed His Excellency Mr. Mangala Moonsinghe, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Mr. K.M. Singh of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Sri S.C. Mukherjee, Vice-Chancellor of the Magadh University, Sri Chintu Nayak, Commissioner Magadh Division, and to Sri Rajiv Gauba, District Magistrate of Gaya.
“I would particularly like to mention,” Rinpoche said, “the great support we have received from Mr. K.M. Singh and Mr. Rajiv Gauba … and Sri Sachidanand Singh, former Chief Secretary of Bihar, and his family, who compassionately sold their land to the Maitreya Project.”
He welcomed all other officials from the Government of India and the Government of Bihar who have given the Maitreya Project their full support … and “other distinguished guests … benefactors and supporters from around the world.” Rinpoche continued:
Why are we building the Maitreya statue?
“What changes people’s minds from continuously creating
negative actions that result in problems such as being harmed by
others, poverty, sickness, earthquakes, wars, etc? This change
cannot be brought about by giving food and money. People
need Dharma, spiritual development. They need to collect merit,
which is the cause of happiness. They need to purify negative
karma, which results in all kinds of problems.
This Maitreya statue, this holy object, has incredible power
to enable sentient beings to purify negative karma and to
accumulate merit. Those who cannot understand this need to
purify the mind that blocks the understanding of the benefits
of the project.” Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Today is one of the happiest and most meaningful days in my life. Our main goal is not the statue itself, the 421-foot [128-meter] Maitreya Statue. The main goal is for the peace and happiness of all sentient beings. For that purpose we are building the Maitreya Statue, and in particular for peace and happiness in our nation India.
My spiritual master, Lama Yeshe, founded the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, the FPMT, which has now 90 meditation centers in various parts of the world. Lama Yeshe advised me before he passed away to build a very large statue of Maitreya Buddha in Bodhgaya. It is his holy wish that I am trying to fulfill (see page 36).
This statue of Maitreya has the incredible power to cause peace and happiness, because the Buddha himself has completed the power of the prayer. All of these inconceivable qualities of the Buddha are caused by the root, compassion to all sentient beings. Therefore just seeing the holy statue of Maitreya Buddha purifies the defilements of the mind.
It is said in the sutra The King of the Concentration that even if one looks with anger at a drawing of Buddha … it causes one gradually to see ten million buddhas. It purifies disturbing thoughts, karmic obscurations, which are obstacles for developing love and compassion.
The numberless sentient beings who see this statue, make prayers offerings and circumambulations will be able to develop the good heart of love and compassion. They will achieve peace, happiness and success in this life, the next life, achieve the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara, and the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.
The only way to have peace and happiness in the world and eliminate problems such as war, famine, disease, disharmony, killing and so forth is to generate loving kindness in the mind … Maitreya Buddha is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ loving kindness, therefore this statue is essential for the cause of love and happiness in this world.
Without loving kindness the attitude of life will be ego and anger. This results in directly and indirectly harming others from life to life. We have seen historically that one powerful and influential person in the world who has no loving kindness has caused great harm to millions of sentient beings, caused countless deaths.
The lack of loving kindness also causes unhappiness, depression, dissatisfaction, no fulfillment in the heart, inner sadness, all of which come from the mind ego. A lack of loving kindness also causes failure in business, health problems, shortage of life, etc.
Therefore loving kindness is the most important education of the mind, most important for peace, happiness and success, now and the future. You cannot find satisfaction and fulfillment or enjoy life without the cause, loving kindness.
If one had billions of dollars, gold, diamonds, wish-granting jewels filling the whole sky, one would feel empty in the heart and dissatisfied if there were no loving kindness. Therefore every time in our everyday life that we generate loving kindness it is much more precious than all the worldly things mentioned. So it is the most precious education, more than any other education. External things alone cannot give satisfaction; loving kindness can.
When Buddha was showing the holy deed of attaining enlightenment, ten million maras tried to attack him, but they were all defeated by Buddha just simply meditating on loving kindness.
It says in the sutra Stainless Beaming One: “Even the shadow of a holy object touching a bird or a fly, even water from a holy object touching one, or even a person hearing the construction of a holy object, these purify the five uninterrupted negative karmas, and those sentient beings will always be protected and paid attention to by the buddhas. They would achieve the complete path to enlightenment and wouldn’t return.”
It is the same with the statue of Maitreya Buddha.
It is also mentioned by the great Indian pandit Chandragomin that when one builds temples, no matter how many insects are killed, they all get purified. They don’t get reborn in the hell or animal realms.
It is the same with statues, in which all the buddhas’ wisdom abides. It is said even the smoke coming from the fire that is used to cook the food for the workers purifies the negative karma of whomever it touches, and they get liberated. So, there are many benefits.
Anybody who does prostrations, circumambulations, makes offerings, even just comes to see the statue, creates the cause of enlightenment, even though the motivation is impure, not Dharma. These actions become the cause for liberation from samsara and the cause to achieve good rebirth in the next life with much happiness. And they become the cause of happiness in this life, health, long life, wealth, all the happiness one desires.
We receive help from others and not harm. Why? Because all these actions become good karma, which is our own positive intention and attitude. Suffering and happiness do not come from outside; they have to come from the mind of each person.
It is said in the sutra Request to Buddha by King Sogyal that the people who make a statue of Buddha create the same amount of merit as the number of atoms in the statue, and they create that amount of merit to achieve enlightenment, the peerless happiness.
This is the very essence that I would like to express so that we can all rejoice for anybody who gives support with their body, speech and mind to the Maitreya Project, even giving advice, so that everybody can enjoy good karma. There are unbelievable, extensive benefits to making holy objects, and it would take much time to explain them. In reality I could never finish explaining the benefits.
I would like to thank all you very kind, sympathetic and very distinguished guests from the bottom of my heart for being present here today for this most precious and important occasion.
And also I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all of you who worked unbelievably hard to enable this function to happen and to actualize this project.
I would like sincerely from the bottom of my heart to request you all to continue to support this great Maitreya statue.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, describes Lama Yeshe’s accomplishments and qualities. The Maitreya Project was Lama Yeshe’s heart project:
Lama Yeshe was a teacher who was able to integrate modern life and ancient life, balancing life and Dharma practice equally. He spent his entire life in this way. He was a great Buddhist scholar and at the same time a great yogi.
His holy mind was enriched with the entire Buddhist teachings, the eighty-four thousand heaps of Dharma, the essence of which is the three principal paths: renunciation from samsara, bodhicitta and shunyata. His mind reached very high realizations of highest tantra, the liberation path, completion stage, wisdom clear light and illusory body on the basis of the ripening path, the generation stage of highest tantra. Inside he was a great yogi, highly attained, outside very humble, simple, most wise, joyful, giving much satisfaction and happiness to all.
Besides guiding me spiritually he took care of me outwardly like a father. Similarly he guided many thousands of students from all over the world. Not only did he guide them on the path to enlightenment but he also solved their life problems and took care of them like a father. I have the greatest admiration for my spiritual teacher Lama Yeshe, who always took care of his students and others no matter how busy he was.
While he was extremely busy taking care of individual students, other living beings, and meditation centers, at the same time he studied Dharma, not only the Lama Tsong Khapa tradition but also other traditions in Buddhism and tried to learn even Western education, science and psychology, even including plants and vegetable farming. Not only that, he even had time to take care of his beloved dogs, keeping them clean and healthy.
At the same time every day Lama Yeshe was able to do meditation sessions, able to continue to develop the mind in the highest yoga tantra. He was one of the practitioners for whom even his sleep became a practice of the highest tantra yoga.
This highest tantra yoga practice actually ceases the continuing cycle of the ordinary death, rebirth and intermediate stage.
I have the greatest admiration for my spiritual teacher Lama Yeshe. He was one of the rare gurus who was able to develop spiritually while at the same time having a busy modern life.
For most people in the world, even though there is great external success, there is great internal failure in achieving peace, happiness and Dharma, in achieving peace and happiness through spiritual practice.
Most people knew Lama Yeshe as a great scholar, very happy, humorous, humble, and warm-hearted. This is what was known externally by most people. As I spent many years being very close to him I know a little bit of the qualities of Lama Yeshe’s internal life.
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Countless sentient beings have suffered by being harmed or killed for every grain of rice you eat. Think about the previous grain from which it came. If you understand this, there’s no way you’ll be able to eat simply for your own selfish enjoyment; you’ll always make offerings of your food and drink.
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