The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion / May 18 2018
After travelling the world, visiting 20 countries, 130 cities, and 11.5 million people, the Jade Buddha has arrived home to the Great Stupa (Tibetan Buddhist Shrine) outside Bendigo, Australia— and was installed and consecrated on Friday, May 18 by an ecstatic multicultural community. There were ceremonies in the Vietnamese, Tibetan, Theravada, and Pure Land (Mahāyāna) traditions; each with chanting, flowers, supplications, speeches and prayers. Communities cooked, arranged flowers, guided visitors, sang, made offerings, smiled, worked, socialised, and cooked some more. Visitors were regaled with an abundance of fresh hot Vietnamese foods. People took selfies in front of the giant Jade Buddha statue. During preparations, when step-ladders were around, visitors could quietly climb up to touch its gleaming jewel pedestal. The Jade Buddha is carved from the largest chunk of gem-grade jade ever found on the planet, and it absolutely glows from within with a veiny depth; the face is gilded and beaming; the hands are cupped to hold offerings of flowers and fruit.
Venerable Thich Phuoc Tan OAM, Abbot of the Quang Minh Vietnamese Temple in Melbourne, described the responses of people all over the world who have seen the Jade Buddha statue— here are some of his words (transcribed sketchily on the fly with the help of a lovely woman sitting behind me):
Many sleeping Buddhists when they encounter the Jade Buddha statue they awaken again. Like the Buddha himself who travelled and taught; like those who travel to hear the great teachers; the Jade Buddha has also travelled... When they see the statue, the person changes. They manifest the most valuable thing within yourself ... the peace ... the jade statue doesn’t preach the Dharma like a living Dharma master, but is able to awaken the curiosity in people ... The statue has the power to make people peaceful ... you get the feeling, just observe it ... people have different perceptions. Perception; enlightenment; compassion, and peace— all start from us. Generate compassion. The Buddha statue reminds us of this journey. Compassion in your heart ...
An afternoon of impassioned chanting filled the large space of the Stupa. The Great Stupa is still a raw, unfinished structure, and the arrival of the Jade Buddha brings obvious joy and meaning to diverse communities of worshippers. What we saw on Friday was a joyful hive of activity. May it continue and grow! Below are a few of my photos, and watch for some video of the chanting from several Buddhist traditions.
- All photos by Catherine Schieve