The Stupa at The Hermitage was built in 2011 under the instruction of Tibetan Lama Phuntsok and his team from Nepal, ably assisted by members of the Sangha and supporters. It contains the precious relics of many great Buddhist teachers, including the Buddha Shakyamuni himself, many of the Karmapas, as well as H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trungpa Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche and many others.
Stupas were first built in India after the historical Buddha Shakyamuni’s death and there are eight different kinds representing different stages of the Buddha’s life and death. Our Enlightenment Stupa represents the Buddha’s enlightenment.
A stupa is traditionally a sacred place of pilgrimage and spiritual practice for Buddhists. There are many famous stupas around the world, but not that many in the UK that have been built and fully consecrated. Our stupa has a ‘sister stupa’ at Brilley, Herefordshire, built by the same team.
As part of our practice at The Hermitage we walk round the stupa in a clockwise direction, reciting prayers and mantras, especially the Samantabhadracharya Pranidhana. We also perform smoke offering rituals or hold feasts in its presence on special occasions. Find out more about our stupa and the rituals and practice we perform at sacred sites on www.sacredsiteswales.co.uk.
We welcome visitors to the Stupa by appointment. Visit the Contact page for more details about making an appointment.
We have several videos of the construction of the Stupa and the rituals performed by Lama Phuntsok on the day of consecration. Here’s part one:
Lama Shenpen has also written a book all about stupas and the construction of our Stupa. Copies can be bought for £10 plus postage – drop us an email to purchase.
What is a stupa?
Essentially a stupa derives from the ancient idea of a burial mound, not unlike the Cromlechs on the Llyn Peninsula, here in North Wales. Stupas are familiar monuments in Buddhist countries and there are already some others in Britain. In the Tibetan tradition there are a number of different kinds representing different stages of the Buddha’s life. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche directed us to build a stupa to commemorate the Buddha’s Enlightenment with an image of Tara, the female embodiment of compassion, gazing out from within it.
The symbolism of the stupa
The central pillar represents the ancient idea of the world axis and makes the place where it stands the centre of the Universe, and the beginning of our path to Enlightenment. The steps of the square base symbolise stages in the development of insight. Each facet protects the sacred space in which the path to Enlightenment can awaken in us. The dome is like a womb, containing the essence of the Buddha. The top of the spire represents the stages of the Bodhisattva path up to perfect Awakening at the tip, where it merges into the undifferentiated vastness of space.
What is the use of a stupa?
A stupa is a symbol of Enlightenment, and acts as a focus for spiritual energy. This arises from interpenetration, which is the true nature of the universe, outside time and space.
The Stupa at The Hermitage acts as a focus for spiritual energy, benefiting all who come within its sphere of influence. The prayers of all those involved in its construction and consecration determine the intensity of its power and effectiveness. The Stupa is used as a focus for our practice whether we are in its immediate presence or not, for instance by bowing to it, circumambulating it, making offerings such as flowers and prayer flags – or simply by calling it to mind. You will be welcome to visit it by appointment.
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