Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is currently leading the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa Retreat at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo, Australia. The six-week retreat began on March 30 and is scheduled to conclude on May 12, 2018.

Lama Zopa Rinoche is teaching on Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life and will give the optional tantric empowerments of Chakrasamvara and Rinjung Gyatsa. This is Rinpoche’s third teaching retreat on this topic in Australia, having commenced in 2011.

Ian Green, director of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, shares details about preparations made in advance of the retreat:

The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion at sunset following a teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion at sunset, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

Preparations for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s retreat inside of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, Bendigo, Australia was a complicated logistical exercise.

Eighteen months before the retreat, we set up massive scaffolding inside of The Great Stupa, which stood fourteen meters tall by twenty meters wide (forty-six feet tall by sixty-six feet wide). Once the scaffolding was in place we began our work finishing the walls, light wells, and main arch of the north side of the gompa. That construction work took more than twelve months.

Lucy and Ven. Lobsang Konchok holding an image of a dakini inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, January 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

Lucy and Ven. Lobsang Konchok holding an image of a dakini inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, January 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

The next phase was the creation of the artwork following Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice, by highly skilled Tibetan artist Ven. Lobsang Konchok.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Ven. Lobsang Konchok discussing artwork for The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Ven. Lobsang Konchok discussing artwork for The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

It took Ven. Lobsang Konchok and his assistant Lucy six months to paint the eight by six meter (twenty-six by twenty foot) arch. The result is a spectacular presentation of the Dharmachakra surrounded by eight offering dakinis.

The Dharmachakra surrounded by eight offering dakinis in The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion's Facebook page.

The Dharmachakra surrounded by eight offering dakinis in The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion’s Facebook page.

One of the eight offering dakinis adorning the arch inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion's Facebook page.

One of the eight offering dakinis adorning the arch inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion’s Facebook page.

While the Tibetan artwork was being completed twelve meters (thirty-nine feet) above the floor, plasterers and painters were at work on the lower levels. The last paint strokes were made two weeks prior to the commencement of the retreat.

The next phase was the dismantling of the scaffolding. This took one week.

Ten days prior to the start of the retreat, we were well into the massive clean-up phase. We devoted the final week to decorating The Great Stupa’s gompa with holy artwork.

Holy relics set up inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

Holy relics set up inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

Since the retreat began, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has viewed relics displayed inside of The Great Stupa, teaching how to transform difficult situations into the path by seeing the benefits and training the mind.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche viewing the relics inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo courtesy of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Twitter page.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche viewing the relics inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo courtesy of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Twitter page.

The most spectacular artwork inside of the gompa is the fourteen-meter (forty-six foot) high thangka of the Twenty-One Taras.

The incredible Twenty-One Taras thangka done by Peter Islie on display inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

The Twenty-One Taras thangka done by Peter Iseli on display inside of The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

The thangka was created by artist Peter Iseli, commissioned by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for Tara Institute, the FPMT center in Melbourne, Australia.

Peter Iseli, Ven. Lobsang Konchok, Jangchub Iseli, and Ven. Thubten Gyatso at The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, February 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

Peter Iseli, Ven. Lobsang Konchok, Jangchub Iseli, and Ven. Thubten Gyatso at The Great Stupa, Bendigo, Australia, February 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

Heath Penbrook, marketing and events coordinator for The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion shares about the return of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace to The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion:

The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace is the largest Buddha carved from gemstone quality jade in the world. The size and beauty of the statue makes it a wonder of the world. The Buddha was carved from a rare boulder of translucent jade (“Polar Pride”), which was discovered in Canada in 2000.

The Jade Buddha surrounded by floral offerings after the unveiling at Yen Phu Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam, June 2016. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

The Jade Buddha surrounded by floral offerings after the unveiling at Yen Phu Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam, June 2016. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

The Jade Buddha is 2.5 meters (eight feet) high and sits on an alabaster throne of close to 1.6 meters (five feet) high. The Jade Buddha itself weighs around four tonnes (8,800 pounds) and is considered to be priceless.

The Jade Buddha finished the final leg of its nine-year world tour in South Korea in early March.

A Buddhist nun and young girl with the Jade Buddha, Busan, South Korea, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

A Buddhist nun and young girl with the Jade Buddha, Busan, South Korea, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

Ian Green flew over to South Korea to ensure the safe packaging and shipping of the Jade Buddha to its home at The Great Stupa in Bendigo, Australia.

Ian Green and friends with the Jade Buddha, packed and ready for shipment, Busan, South Korea, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green's Twitter page.

Ian Green and friends with the Jade Buddha, packed and ready for shipment, Busan, South Korea, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Ian Green’s Twitter page.

We expect the Jade Buddha to arrive in mid-April during the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa Retreat at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion. We are hoping to be able to place the Jade Buddha upon its throne and consecrate it during the retreat, thereby welcoming the Jade Buddha to its new home.


To learn more about The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion and the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace visit the website:
https://www.stupa.org.au

Watch Lama Zopa Rinpoche teach during the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa Retreat at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo, Australia, March 30-May 12, 2018.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.