(OMTimes | Cathedral of the Soul) What are Stupas and how can they advance your spiritual growth?
Using Stupas to increase spiritual power
STUPAS are monuments of the Buddhist tradition that represent the mind of all enlightened beings. The Stupa means “The Presence of the Buddha,” and they are the representation of the mind of the Buddha. Originally from India, Stupas are monuments that may contain relics of the Buddha, his disciples, later masters and or objects considered sacred or of vital spiritual importance. They are structures that also serve to commemorate events, they symbolize the many aspects of Buddhist doctrine.
The pagodas are an evolution of the Stupas. The construction of such structures follows a rigorous series of techniques and wisdom of the ancient culture of Tibetan Buddhism. Each section of the Stupa represents one of the steps of the path to enlightenment. The Stupas naturally establish peace and harmony by subduing negative forces, helps to prevent epidemic diseases and stabilize the forces of nature as well as brings blessings of health, prosperity, and well-being to the community.
The sites are generally carefully chosen for the Stupas, taking into account the principles of geomancy, Ley lines and Devic centers of power: Vortexes. These ancient Indian burial constructions contain relics of kings and heroes. The monument Stupa contains within it thousands of prayers, relics of Buddhas, statues, incense and many other rare and precious substances and numerous offerings.
Stupas are the symbol of the potential that each one of us has to achieve enlightenment. The stupa is monumental architecture, emphasizing our connection to the spiritual by both its mass and symbolic shapes.
As mystical structures, Stupas have the power to restore Earth’s energy in its surrounding environment, to help balance its elements, to prevent natural and environmental disasters, to promote peace, happiness, health, and prosperity. As such it is a source of positive energy, peace, prosperity, and harmony between beings and nature.
So, in visiting these monuments and to walk around it – doing the kora – clockwise with a positive attitude, it is said that one to create tremendous benefits such as:
– appease hatreds, conflicts, and wars;
– avoiding Illnesses and curing epidemics and diseases;
– quenching hunger and increasing productivity;
– An increase in Fortune and Virtue;
– to calm the spirit, the mind, to develop well-being and the compassionate heart.
Original history of stupas
The building of Stupas – a symbol of the infinite mind of an enlightened being – goes back in time to Buddha Shakyamuni himself, who encouraged his disciples to build this kind of monument in auspicious places such as sacred places of Birth, of teaching, holy grounds (death or parinirvana) of the Buddha himself.
He taught his followers that doing spiritual practices in the presence of stupas would be the equivalent and have the same effect as making offerings to the Buddha himself, and therefore the power of any ritual practice in the presence of a stupa would be amplified. Stupas may have different formats. The tip of a stupa can show the level of spiritual development of the one in whose memory it was built.
It is true that a stupa built in such blessed places unlimitedly increases spiritual power and provides enormous benefits to all who visit it. Many stupas are divided into two parts: a lower portion and the stupa itself. The lower part, which goes to the beginning of the dome, is actually the base, the throne on which the stupa is supported. The stupa truly begins from the crown of lotus leaves along the four steps, followed by the second lotus crown, the dome, and the upper elements. Each part of the stupa has a symbolic meaning:
The basis of the stupa represents the ten healing actions: non-engagement in killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, no slander, no verbal aggression, no intrigue, no covetousness, nor evil and false visions.
The first lotus flower of the stupa represents the six memories: remembering the master, the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, morality, and generosity.
The four steps represent the four elements: earth, water, fire, and wind.
The base of the dome represents the five forces of a Buddha: The strength of faith, enthusiasm, attention, concentration, and knowledge.
The dome represents enlightenment.
The square on top symbolizes the eightfold path and the thirty-seven qualities of enlightenment.
The lotus flower on the lower end of the pillar shows the freedom from the misconceptions of conditioned existence.
The thirteen rings represent the ten powers and three consciousnesses of a Buddha’s mind: the knowledge that he is free from all kinds of lust, the awareness that he is free from hatred, and the awareness that he is free from the impartial view to listeners and non-listeners.
The conical ledge, which leads to the rings of the sun, represents the “Dharani of compassion,” which signifies the union of great compassion with the sixteen emptinesses.
The sun-set and the ring under the crown show the union of method and wisdom.
The crown represents the additional activities.
The moon and the sun represent the wisdom of such-being and such-see, conventional and ultimate wisdom. The apex corresponds to the condition of the Great Union of Enlightenment, in which the body and mind, or the illusory body, and the wisdom of the bright light were united.
The ornaments, which can be fixed between the apex of the Stupas and the dome, show the sixty members of a Buddha’s speech.
The four columns that may appear behind the stupa show the four passions of a Buddha: the fearlessness of conquering all the obstacles of defeat, the fearlessness of capturing all knowledge, the fearlessness of declaring what must be overcome and fearlessness to reveal the remedies.
The banners of victory in these four columns indicate victory over the four Maras or negative forces.
The garlands that eventually adorn the stupa demonstrate the 32 characteristics and 80 indications of a Buddha’s body.
In Buddhism, they are believed the Stupas to contain relics of the Buddha himself, which, once divided, were housed in various stupas. In the later Buddhist period, stupas were used with funerary urns for other significant figures. Although no ancient stupa remains entirely intact today, many were erected during the tremendous Buddhist expansion under its imperial patron, the Indian king Ashoka (268-239 BC). Over time, some stupas became essential places of pilgrimage and, as their prestige grew, they were covered with stone, usually with carved scenes depicting the life of the Buddha. In Tibet, the stupa has become a chorten, with a dome resting on a five-layered base that symbolizes the five elements of this world and, at the top, the pinnacle, sun on a crescent moon, expressing wisdom and compassion. In Southeast Asia, China and Japan, stupas have become pagodas, which represent the Buddhist cosmos.
You may also like: