How to Use a Stupa to Bring You to Enlightenment

How to Use a Stupa to Bring You to Enlightenment

Date of Advice:
June 2019
Date Posted:
June 2019

Rinpoche gave this advice to a student who had a new stupa in their house.

This stupa contains a relic and powerful mantras. When held over the water, it blesses all beings that go below it or are touched by its shadow. Photo: Holly Ansett, October 2016.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
As this stupa was filled at Amitabha Buddha Centre (ABC), then it will have the Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras inside.

This is a Kadampa stupa, like the one Lama Atisha used to carry, keeping the guru’s hair, robes and relics inside. When Atisha was on the road, even if a very subtle vice had been committed he would immediately prostrate to the stupa and confess. This was how he used the stupa, for that purpose.

Here I want to say this: you don’t have to put this stupa on your altar. Many times people don’t even look at the altar. So here, it is very important to see the stupa. Each time you see it there is great, great purification and that brings you to enlightenment; this is just by looking at the stupa.

Therefore, it is better to put it in the kitchen or living room or on a table. If you have many stupas then you can put them on a table and also put other buddha statues and texts (sutras such as the Vajra Cutter SutraGolden Light Sutra, Arya Sanghata Sutra, and so forth) then you can go around all these holy objects that are on the table. It makes it so easy to circumambulate them.

This is a great thing. It purifies negative karma collected from beginningless rebirths that are obstacles to happiness—temporary and ultimate happiness—and especially to actualizing all the realizations on the path to enlightenment. And it creates the cause to achieve the path to enlightenment—to actualize the teachings that you have heard and read in your heart.

People who are non-believers can also go around the table with this stupa (and if you have them, other holy objects) on it while you are having a conversation with them. In this way even if your speech is non-virtuous, you can still collect unbelievable virtue with your body. And the non-believers also create the cause of enlightenment. There is great purification and also we are able to collect merits.

It is like the example of Khyimdag Pälkye (Shrijata). This is a story from the sutras. A long time ago he was a fly who followed the smell of cow dung around a stupa. That action became the cause in his life, when he was eighty years old, to begin to practice Dharma. He achieved renunciation from samsara. And by becoming free from samsara, he achieved the level of arhat, free from samsara and the causes of samsara—delusion and karma.

Not only non-believers, even when people from outside visit your house, they can also go around. If you have pets, such as dogs and cats, you can also bring them around the stupa that is on the table by holding them in your hands if you can, so they are at the same level as the stupa.

Also if you find worms, insects or flies in the house, or ants on your body—basically any insect that you find—you can catch them and put them in a plastic bag. Here at ABC they kindly made these insect catchers, which are two small boxes. One is called “method,” and the other is called “wisdom.” You can put the insects in those, take them around the stupa a few times and then release them in a safe place.

Or if you have a thousand ants or crickets in a plastic bag, then you can take them all around the stupa. This plants the seed of enlightenment in all their hearts, and there is great purification of heavy negative karma that has been collected from beginningless rebirths. Also, they collect extensive merits.

This is the best present from your side that you can offer them, as they are the cause of all your happiness from beginningless rebirths until now and also in the future. You receive every single happiness from them. Besides that, they have been kind to you from beginningless rebirths. They have created so much negative karma in order to take care of you. They have suffered unbelievably, unbelievably, unbelievably for you and will do so again in the future, until you are free from samsara.

Therefore, it is so important to be free from samsara as quickly as possible by actualizing wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. So for that you need calm abiding. For that you need pure morality, the three higher trainings, not only if you are ordained but also as a lay practitioner.

Having the Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras inside the stupa means it also has the Secret Relic Mantra inside. So if you go around the stupa with this mantra inside just one time, it purifies all the heavy negative karmas to be born in the hot hells, down to the eighth hot hell, the unbearable hell realm that has the heaviest suffering. All this gets purified and it makes it so easy to be born in a pure land or to achieve a perfect human rebirth with the eight freedoms and ten endowments, so you have the freedom to practice Dharma and to achieve enlightenment.

When you go around the stupa you can recite OM MANI PADME HUM or other mantras, or if you have some commitments then you can recite them. Because if you sit down to pray then you will go to sleep, but when you try to go to sleep, then you are fully awake, but not necessary fully awake in Dharma.

One time at Kachoe Dechen Ling in California, our very precious kind Fabrizio [Pallotti] was in the same area and he was talking to me for a long time on the phone. I was in my room and in that room I have a table that has many stupas, prayer wheels, statues, texts, relics and images of buddhas on it. The table is similar to the altar tables I have in my room at Kopan and also in Dharamsala. The table is round and quite high and has many holy objects on it at a few different levels. You can go around the table. As I was on the phone I thought to make the time worthwhile while I was talking, so I went around the table with all the holy objects. In this way at least I can collect merit and purify the cause of the lower realms and create the cause to be free from samsara, and also lower nirvana and achieve great enlightenment. By going around the holy objects, at least with the body, we can create virtue and the cause of enlightenment.

Also outside the office at Kachoe Dechen Ling there is a table set up with many Kadampa stupas and tsa tsas, and a bigger stupa in the center. It is very neatly set up. So while Roger [Kunsang] and Holly [Ansett] are talking on the phone, which happens a lot, then at least they can go around and make the actions of the body virtuous and create the cause of enlightenment.

If you put this stupa on the table in the dining room or living room, it becomes very easy for people to go around it every day—many people, so many times a day. It is very good to go around. Then you can rejoice at the end of the day that at least there was some virtuous action collected. Many people spend a long time on the phone, and while they are on the phone they can go around the stupa. So it helps very much to not waste this most precious human rebirth.

You can look at some photos of how I have set up the different stupas at Kachoe Dechen Ling. Also there is one Vietnamese family in North Carolina who made a thousand buddha statues and they made an altar for the statues with many different colored lights. They go around every day, and also even their children go around by themselves as well.

Because we have this perfect human rebirth—it is just one time, it is not sure how long we will have it, life is very short—I am suggesting this so as to not waste your most precious human life, which is more precious that the whole sky filled with wish-granting jewels, not only diamonds. Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers ...

PS: Please read this and look at the stupas.