Thursday, April 29, 2010

What the Mojave Cross Means to Tibetan Buddhists

Follow this one carefully.

In 1934, a group of veterans erect a Christian cross on a remote rock outcropping in the Mojave Desert named Sunrise Rock.

Decades pass, and Sunrise Rock is incorporated into what subsequently becomes the Mojave National Preserve, i.e. public land.

More time passes, and a retired National Park Service employee named Frank Buono decides to sue to have the Christian symbol removed from public land.

The case becomes politically contentious, as cases involving veterans and Christians often do, so to keep the peace, Congressman Jerry Lewis -- and this not the one who is regarded as a genius in France -- arranges for Congress to transfer the ground where the cross stands to private ownership.

The courts reject this solution and order that the cross be removed.

The United States Supreme Court has now overturned the lower court's invalidation of the sale and order of removal, using language that is extremely helpful to Buddhists.

Why is that, you ask?

Because of the Lost Stupa of Albuquerque, I answer.

The National Park Service also snatched up a Tibetan Buddhist stupa, and I tend to think we want it back. We'll take the stupa and the ground under the stupa for $1.00, please, and thank you very much.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled,  let the veterans have their cross, let the Buddhists have their stupa, and please... somebody... go slap a muzzle on Smokey the Bear.


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9 reader comments:

Divine Lotus Healing said...

Here, Here!

Anonymous said...

I doubt the law will be applied evenly in this instance. I agree with you completely that it could be helpful, but an even better solution is to not allow the mixture of public lands and religious objects. The best hills, etc., in the country are already jammed with monuments to monotheistic eternalism and that will likely only become more widespread now... Sure, one stupa might benefit, but overall this law will hurt Buddhists as go try to put a Stupa on a piece of public land anywhere in the country where it will be seen from a city, etc. as in the case with crosses like this. I wish Buddhist Veterans had a monument too. :-( The best hills in populated areas are already jammed with crosses though - so good luck with that idea.

Padma Kadag said...

I for one would prefer religious monuments not in public lands. We buddhists can be happy to leave tsa tsa here and there or stupas of local stone in the mountain parks....anything else would open up to "God knows what?"

Anonymous said...

Its like black. For all intents and purposes its a colour. A secularism enforced by disallowing religion is the most intolerant of religions. If the crosses bother you that much just tilt your head to the side and they all become X's. 'Vote America!'

Ariane said...

When the stupa was built, it was on private land. We fought the park service for 6 years after finding out they intended to take the land on which we lived.

After the park service took the land, they razed everything on it, including the the house, the outbuildings, gardens and sweat lodge area. Even the 100 or so native trees are now gone.

Many monks, lamas, Native Americans and practitioners visited and even lived there.

But, as Lama Rinchen Phuntsok often said, nothing is permanent! He was the one who consecrated the stupa - three times. He scoured Asia and the U.S. for the texts placed inside. Many of us came together at the right time to create this offering.

I am just happy that the stupa still stands and hope others can enjoy its blessing. Many wonderful people have poured their hearts there.

Ariane Emery

TENPA said...

Dear Ariane:
In the several posts I have done on this stupa, I have mentioned that we have a "that was then this is now" window of opportunity. The politics when NPS grabbed your land are different than the politics today, when we have staunch advocates for the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism in Congress, and now, the Supreme Court ruling. I know you poured everything you had into this and that it was a terrible loss for you personally. I really want to see some justice on this. There are a sufficient number of committed Buddhists in New Mexico -- who vote -- to get a Bill sponsored that would return this stupa to Buddhist hands. I really do wish this could happen. Email me and maybe we can do something.

Anonymous said...

I just heard news today that the cross was uprooted and stolen by thieves: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126759942

Very unfortunate....

Ariane said...

I am moving back to Albuquerque soon and would be interested in getting the stupa back into Buddhist hands.

Have you been to it, Tenpa?

TENPA said...

Sorry to say I have not, Ariane, but it is on my Bucket List.

Let me know when you get settled, and in the meantime, I will look around for a good public interest attorney who can help.