Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Fun With Stupas

Quite possibly, the most fun with stupas comes from filling them. As the above photo from France's Lerab Ling illustrates, stupas and statues can take a whole lot of filling.

Everybody likes to make tsa-tsa. Nowadays, they use plaster or hydrocast, but in the old days, they used the dirt dug from the site where the stupa was to be placed. You know, it is a funny thing, but you can go down to the Buddha Market in Bangkok, and occasionally find tsa-tsa that are hundreds of years old -- all encased in gold lockets -- but, you know, they only came from one place.

There is now a fascinating, English-language book about all of this, and since I enjoy the subject, I purchased one. This is Benefits and Practices Related to Statues and Stupas: Part 3, Essential Advice for Filling Statues and Stupas. Another interesting, and little-known, collateral reference is a paper by Chandra Reedy, entitled "The Opening of Consecrated Tibetan Bronzes With Interior Contents." What Reedy proves, as least as far as the bronzes in question are concerned, is that practice doesn't always follow text, i.e. the contents of the statues Reedy desecrated don't match the recommendations in the various texts.

The book mentioned is part of a series published by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (which, like the Supreme Court, has a published opinion about almost everything) and the whole series is a useful investment if you want to quickly familiarize yourself with the subject matter.

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