Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in Singapore is creating a gold crown for the 3.3-meter (10.8-feet) high Thousand-Arm Chenrezig statue that occupies ABC’s main altar. The crown is the newest addition to a project that has been ongoing for more than eighteen years.
Here, ABC director Tan Hup Cheng shares a personal account of the creative endeavor:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche chose the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig statue for our main altar way back in 1995. He advised us that we must construct this statue. He further advised that we seek the services of Denise and Peter Griffin, both students of his, to build it. After a long and difficult journey, due to their many other commitments, we successfully secured Denise and Peter’s services.
Work on the statue’s parts began in 2013, with inputs from Rinpoche. After much hard work, the statue parts were completed and shipped to Singapore for assembly in August 2015. Finally, in March 2016 the statue was completed, in time for Rinpoche’s visit to ABC.
ABC’s Executive Committee had discussed the making of the crown for the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig statue, and with great devotion and lots of faith, we decided to build the crown in pure 24-carat gold. An estimate of the amount of gold required was about 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds).
In order to raise the amount of solid gold required, we sent an email to 4,000 members of ABC’s fan club. We described the unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and inconceivable merit, to offer a gold crown to Chenrezig.
We asked people to buy pure Swiss 999.99 finesse gold bars in denominations of 1 gram (0.4 ounces), 5 gram (1.8 ounces), 10 gram (0.4 ounces), 20 gram (0.7 ounces), 50 gram (1.8 ounces), 100 gram (3.5 ounces), or whatever amount of 24-carat gold they could afford. We told them that their gold bars would be melted down to form part of the large 4 kilograms (8.8 pound) gold crown. So for a small investment of 1 gram of gold, we explained that they would receive the same amount of merit as offering 4 kilograms of gold.
The email went viral, and people began flooding the ABC office with offerings of Swiss gold bars. After two months we had collected 4.2 kg (9.3 pounds) of pure gold.
Peter Griffin made the crown using the age-old technique of lost-wax casting. He had to make wax master pieces. He used computer aided programs to design the crown parts, and had the wax master pieces printed in 3D using a special machine. Peter printed a total of 169 wax pieces.
A benefactor in Singapore who owned a jewelry foundry offered his gold casting workshop equipment to us so that we could melt and cast the gold. While at Nalanda Monastery in France, Peter invited Joan, who had previously worked as a goldsmith, to come to Singapore to cast the parts into gold. Joan reached Singapore in August 2017, and successfully cast all of the 169 gold parts.
Peter is working with our benefactor jeweler so that all of the gold parts can be soldered together to form a solid three-tier crown. In sum, nine small crowns will be soldered together to form the crown for the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig statue.
Thanks to another student of Rinpoche, Piero in Italy, we managed to purchase thousands of pieces of blood red coral and turquoise stones, in various sizes to adorn the gold crown base.
When all has been completed, the gold crown will be securely locked away. We will then offer the gold crown to Rinpoche, to offer to the Thousand-Arm Chenrezig statue when Rinpoche visits in October 2019.
We believe that our guru’s pure mind can dedicate the merit created. We also believe that, as Rinpoche told me, the statue can become a cause for Dharma to flourish in this world for 10,000 years; as well as work for the FPMT; and the success of Rinpoche’s vision and wishes to be fulfilled.
To learn more about Amitabha Buddhist Centre visit their website: http://www.fpmtabc.org
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