Making Tsa-tsas and Buddha Statues

Making Tsa-tsas and Buddha Statues

Date Posted:
November 2009

Rinpoche wrote the following two letters to two students who are artists, one of whom was working on a statue of Maitreya Buddha for Rinpoche’s organization, the FPMT.

My very dear James Rinpoche,
I am not calling you Rinpoche with the normal meaning of incarnation. I am calling you Rinpoche because of your precious talents supported by a dedicated mind. So, you can receive the title Rinpoche.

There is one FPMT Dzambhala benefactor whose mother has Alzheimer's disease. She loves her mother very much, as she loves and cares for other sentient beings as well. Because her mother's condition is deteriorating and her health is declining, I suggested it would be good to do something for her before she dies. If she does something now then when she dies it makes it easier, it purifies her mind by creating extensive merit. So, according to my divinations, it came out very good for her to make 16 arhat tsa-tsas and a five-cubit Medicine Buddha statue (which will be made in Delhi). I organized already seven Medicine Buddha statues to be made in Delhi for a Dharma center in Dharamsala, so it is easy for centers to order them. Even though, from my divinations, if they are correct, it doesn't look like she would have a bad rebirth, that she would be born in the lower realms, it came out best to make these statues.

The height of the 16 arhat tsa-tsas should be 17" from the elbow to the tip of the finger, and around the edge should be the eight auspicious signs. They should not be copied from the Chinese dressed ones but wearing Tibetan-style robes. There are some thangkas that have them with the robes on. As you know, each one could sit on a cloud or each one could be in a cave on a rocky mountain. Then, at the very bottom, if you are able to manage, should be the small offering goddesses dancing, like the ones in the Lama Chöpa. You can see the two left and right groups, with different leg positions. That could be nice, or the seven king's reigns. You can make them like the seven Medicine Buddhas you painted, coming out from a deep cave, not flat like you made the first Thousand-arm Chenrezig.

The centers can have the tsa-tsas. Don't rush, plan well before making them. First collect ideas. Make it the best you can so it can be used for many many hundreds of years, the lineage. I did see some books, probably from China, where the arhats have monk's robes on. One place I have seen this is in Norbulingka in Dharamsala, which His Holiness doesn't like, as the 16 arhats are wearing Chinese dress, with long sleeves.

My very dear Laura,
I have sent the picture of the Maitreya statue prototype. The robes and the legs are pppeeerrrrrrfffeeecccttttt. I saw the picture and I really like it; it is very neat. Nothing is clumsy. The hands, etc, are very good, also the face is good. Maybe there is a very, very slight thing to be improved in the smile, very very small. But I need to see it well. Maybe the face needs some very slight changes, but it is generally good. The whole thing is very good. I didn't realize that you were born to make a Maitreya Buddha statue. I wondered if you can do this in this life, then in future lives I can't imagine what you can do. Probably you can make a Maitreya Buddha the size of Mount Meru.

Anyway, you should know that you and James are the source of countless sentient beings’ merit, for example, those who make tsa-tsas and those who make offerings to tsa-tsas and statues. This is your quick way of bringing sentient beings to enlightenment. Even without depending on a positive motivation from the beings, from the side of the power of the objects, beings can achieve enlightenment soon. You make it very easy for beings to create the causes for liberation and enlightenment.

The 500-foot Maitreya statue, the countless beings, so many millions of people, who collect merits, the cause of enlightenment, and all the rest of beings’ happiness come from your statue prototype, which is the copy of the big one. Therefore, you should think this way and rejoice in all those countless sentient beings’ merit and your merit.

With much love and prayer, and hope to see you soon...