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Padmasambhava's Pureland

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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According to Buddhism, each of us holds within us an exhaustless source of compassion and wisdom. All we need to do is to connect with our most essential nature that has been covered over by negative emotions and false perceptions. There are many ways to remind ourselves of that. Among them are meditation, prayers, recitation of mantras, and also the construction of inspiring places.

At the base of the Mata Atlantic mountains, near Três Coroas, Rio Grande do Sul Brasil’s southernmost state, such a place is being constructed. Chagdud Gonpa Brasil’s replica of the celestial realm of Zangdog Palri (“Glorious Copper-Colored Mountain”) brings from Tibetan culture symbols of widely-held values like non-violence and inner clarity.

Zangdog Palri is Padmasambhava’s pureland, a realm that expresses the splendid environment manifested from enlightened mind. In March 2009, visits will be specially scheduled for persons interested in learning about the statues and paintings that fill the three floors of the Padmasambhava Pureland.

This earthly location of the pureland is Khadro Ling, the main center of Chagdud Gonpa Brasil and the home to many monuments built in the Tibetan architectural style, including an elaborate temple where daily meditation sessions, as well as retreats and teachings with Buddhist teachers take place.

It is only by creating peace in our own mind that is possible to accomplish peace in the external world, but similarly, sacred places in the world powerfully remind us of internal spiritual wealth. To make pilgrimage to such places is to make an inner journey through the landscape of our own minds.

The reason to build such a place

Padmasambhava manifested the pureland of Zangdog Palri (Glorious Copper-Colored Mountain) after he left our earth for a different world system. His celestial palace, Padma Od (Lotus Light), marks the center of the pureland. Chagdud Rinpoche’s culminant aspiration, during this life time, was to build a replica of Padmasambhava’s palace at Khadro Ling, an extensive process that is now coming to its finish.

Building such an elaborate, unusual structure is meant to inspire those who see it, who even remember it, and to remind them of their own wealth of inner potential. The pureland represents the glorious manifestation of enlightened mind as a pure, jewel-like environment. As the Buddhist master Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said, "the essence of Padmasambhava is the same as the essence of our mind and heart."

Because Zangdog Palri replicas are rare and require extensive, esoteric ceremonies, Padmasambhava's pureland in Brazil also becomes a place of historical and cultural heritage. The architecture of this Zangdog Palri is based on a very beautiful replica in Kongpo, Tibet. No other Padmasambhava's pureland in the West has adhered so completely to the traditional style.

The three levels have numerous statues and paintings that represent the enlightened inhabitants of the celestial palace. Each statue is filled with rolls of mantra and powdered incense, empowering the likenesses with consecrated potency. Guru Padmasambhava’s image, surrounded by various statues that represent his emanations, dominates the first floor, which is 120 square meters and has space for sixty people to sit for ceremonies. The main image on the second floor is the Bodhisattva Chenrezig, also known as the Lord of Compassion. The third floor has an image of Amitabha Buddha that was completed by Chagdud Rinpoche several days before he died.

Over time, extensive educational materials will be developed to explain the meaning of these images.

How the project was born

Both Khadro Ling and Zangdog Palri were born from the dreams of the late H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master. Rinpoche brought to the United States and to Latin America extremely rare and deep spiritual teachings that were almost unknown in the West until a few decades ago. Creating a network of centers and ordaining Western teachers, he made these teachings available and accessible to the still-growing community across the Americas, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

To build a replica of Zangdog Palri was Chagdud Rinpoche’s last wish and great project before he died in 2002. He had researched the special architectural features and was making preliminary drawings, and he had completed the statue of Amitabha Buddha that now occupies the third floor of the pureland. After his death, project coordination was undertaken by Chagdud Khadro, his wife and the present Spiritual Director of Chagdud Gonpa in South America. With tremendous contributions of skills and funds from Chagdud Rinpoche’s followers and with the unstinting generosity of several Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist masters and the artists the creation of the Zangdog Palri, which has progressed steadily since 2003, now approaches its completion.

Masters and artists involved in the artistic work

A multicultural team of artists and dedicated Buddhist practitioners are responsible for the execution of painting and sculptures. Leading the team are five Bhutanese and Nepalese formally trained in their precise trades. After decades of study and practice in monasteries and Buddhist centers in the East, they accepted the invitation of Chagdud Gonpa Brasil and have established themselves in Brazil throughout the years taken to complete the work.

The artists appreciate the dedication of Brazilians to this undertaking and often mention that the work being done here parallels hundreds of other works they have participated in Bhutan, Nepal, India and Tibet. According to them, the faith, diligence and artistic talent of Brazilians are similar to that of their counterparts in these ancient centers of Buddhism.