Resources on Holy Objects

In the Buddhist tradition, objects become “holy” when they contain the presence of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech or holy mind.

There are several ways in which to engage with holy objects. You can make offerings to, prostrate toward, and circumambulate holy objects that already exist; create holy objects that become future sources of blessings to others; and also help sponsor a holy object initiative with volunteer time, money, or prayers. All of these activities, because they are done in relation to holy objects, become incredibly powerful acts of virtue.

Holy objects can even be used to benefit animals. You can help animals to circumambulate holy objects; gently touch the crowns of their heads with your stupas, statues, and tsa-tsas; or recite mantras for them.

Below you can find general information about various kinds of holy objects, as well as links to advice, resources, and ways to sponsor or support the creation of holy objects.

Prayer Wheels

Prayer wheels are filled with mantras traditionally printed on strips of paper and tightly rolled around the core. These days mantras are reproduced onto microfilm—the more mantras, the more powerful. Prayer wheels can be small enough to be held in the hand or fit on a table, or can be very large enough to contain trillions of mantras.

Information About and Benefits of Prayer Wheels

How to Sponsor Prayer Wheels

The Prayer Wheel Fund, one of our FPMT Charitable Projects, is dedicated to providing the resources needed for the creation of 100,000 prayer wheels around the world as a way to increase compassion and cultivate world peace. This is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Vast Visions for FPMT.

Prayer Flags

Unique to the Himalayas, prayer flags are pieces of cloth stamped with mantras and images, either in a pattern of five colors (blue, white, red, green and yellow) horizontally on a long string, or a single narrow vertical flag on a pole. Prayer flags are flown on auspicious days for different reasons including the removal of obstacles or illness; protection against harm when traveling; and on important occasions such as the third day of the Tibetan New Year, marriages, and other official functions.

Prayer Flags and Auspicious Days,” by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Please refer to the Liberation Calendar for days appropriate for hanging prayer flags as obstacles can be experienced when hung on the wrong days of the Tibetan calendar.

Relics

Relics can include bone relics of a holy person or fragments of close physical possessions, such as robes, and can also include certain very blessed mantras found in sutras and tantras, known as dharmakaya relics (the actual presence of the enlightened mind in the world). The most visually unique relics in the Buddhist tradition, however, are the pearl-like crystals found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. The relics are considered a result of the master’s special compassion and wisdom, and are often enshrined in stupas.

The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras

Leaving a statue empty is like offering nothing to the buddhas and can create obstacles. Therefore, it is important to put something inside the statue, even as little as a few mantras and some incense.

According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras are the main mantras that give power to holy objects. They are what make holy objects most powerful and beneficial, and make it easy for sentient beings to purify negative karma and collective extensive merit. It is like having thousands of atomic bombs to purify negative karma.”

As such, FPMT Education Services has made available the Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras, formatted for rolling. We also invite you to read, The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras and Their Benefits by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Stupas

Stupas, one of the most ancient icons in Buddhist art, are powerful symbols of the mind’s limitless potential. In other words, they represent the mind of enlightenment. Stupas are filled with sacred images, mantras and the relics of holy beings. Originally fairly simply structures, stupas have undergone elaborate design changes as they have been embraced by new cultures.

There are eight different types of stupas, each of which commemorates different events in the life of the Buddha: Lotus Stupa, the birth of the Buddha; Enlightenment Stupa, the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment; Auspicious Stupa with Many Doors, the Buddha’s turning the wheel of Dharma, and commonly referred to as a “Wheel-Turning” Stupa; Miraculous Feats Stupa, when the Buddha preformed miracles; Descent Stupa, the Buddha’s descent from Tushita heaven; Reconciliation Stupa, when the Buddha healed the schism of the Sangha, also known as the “Healing the Community” Stupa; Victory Stupa, prolonging the life of the Buddha, more commonly known as a long life or Namgyälma Stupa; and the Parinirvana Stupa, the Buddha’s passing into parinirvana.

Resources

Building or sponsoring a stupa is a very powerful way to accumulate merit and purify negative karma. Below are resources to help and inspire you to achieve your goals and complete your commitments related to stupas.

How to Sponsor the Creation of Stupas

The Stupa Fund provides the resources needed for building 100,000 stupas around the world in order to create the cause for world peace. This is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Vast Visions for FPMT.

Statues

A Buddhist statue represents the holy body of a buddha. Buddhas are invited to abide in statues through a consecration ceremony. When this is complete, the statue is an actual embodiment of the Buddha, and should be respected as such.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche “opens the eyes” of FPMT’s first holy object, Tara statue, Kopan Monastery, 1976

Resources on Statues

The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras

Leaving a statue empty is like offering nothing to the buddhas and can create obstacles. Therefore, it is important to put something inside the statue, even as little as a few mantras and some incense. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras are the main mantras that give power to holy objects. They are what make holy objects most powerful and beneficial, and make it easy for sentient beings to purify negative karma and collective extensive merit. It is like having thousands of atomic bombs to purify negative karma.”

As such, FPMT Education Services has made available the Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras, formatted for rolling. We also invite you to read, The Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras and Their Benefits by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

How to Sponsor the Creation of Statues

We invite you to learn more about the Padmasambhava Project for Peace, the Maitreya Projects and the FPMT Holy Objects Fund, which provide ways to support and sponsor the creation of statues.

Thangkas

Thangkas are painted or appliquéd images of deities, venerated spiritual figures, or common religious symbols, usually framed by colorful brocade.

“You may think that a statue or thangka is just a statue or thangka,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche said, “but it is the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, which understands and directly sees absolute truth, as well as conventional truth.”

Thangka Events

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has encouraged, as part of the Vast Visions for FPMT, to support, create, and display very large thangkas, and to host thangka festival days where many people can gather to enjoy their beauty and power , and participate in making offerings and other virtuous activities. Some FPMT centers already host such thangka events:
  • In 2011, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, through the Lama Zopa Rinpoche Bodhichitta Fund, commissioned a 55-foot by 40-foot high stitched appliquéd thangka of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) to be displayed at Lawudo Retreat Center, Nepal.
  • Chenrezig Institute, Australia hosts an annual Chenrezig Festival on the anniversary of His Holiness’ visit to the center. At the event, students unfurl a very large 1,000-Arm Chenrezig thangka, make offerings, engage in Chenrezig practice, and watch a teaching from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
  • Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, has a large Maitreya thangka that it shows during Buddha multiplying days (weather permitting) and during any great occasions at the center.
  • Land of Medicine Buddha in California, USA, holds two large thangka events annually: Medicine Buddha Festival Day and Ksitigarbha Day.
  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche was offered a large Medicine Buddha thangka from Mongolia, and it came out most beneficial in Rinpoche’s observation to offer it to Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC), Malaysia. LDC unveiled the thangka as part of their 1,000 Offerings Event, with Khenrinpoche Geshe Chonyi presiding.
Tsa-Tsas

Tsa-tsas are a form of Buddhist art that has flourished for centuries in the Himalayas, most notably Tibet. Like many Tibetan sacred objects, they are iconographic forms of various buddhas.

In Tibet, tsa-tsas are made with clay from the earth. These days, more modern and durable materials are used such as plaster or hydrostone.

Often, students are given a commitment to make 100,000 tsa-tsas of a particular buddha or meditational deity during their lifetime. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said, “Making tsa-tsas pacifies obstacles, bad conditions, accidents, and sudden diseases like heart attacks and paralysis. By making tsa-tsas you pacify enemies, interferers, and harms. You accumulate all merit, purify all obscurations, and achieve the resultant three kayas in a future life.”

Resources

 

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