STUPA: LAYOUT & ORIENTATION
CIRCUMAMBULATION around the stupa circles the squares of the plan both figuratively and geometrically.
LAYOUT & ORIENTATION: In every beginning, the first action is the manifestation of being, a singularity, a point, existent but immeasurable. This moves within the infinite void, extending itself into a universe through a process of subdivision. And so it is with the creation of a mandala or stupa. The mandala is thus a geometric model of that universe, a sacred space for the manifestation of being and so also is the stupa whose plan is based upon the mandala.
The mandala is laid out from a point placed on the ground as if a blank canvas, infinite in potential, which is to be the center of the design. It is the point of Being where the compass is placed, opened across the surface to draw a circle, the boundary of what is Becoming. These actions recapitulate the manifestation of space and time. A second circle of the same dimension is drawn from the circumference of the first representing the “other”…duality and thus the possibility of manifestation. These two are the fusion from which oscillation, that is vibration, arises and from this then form. The process is so endlessly repeated in the course of infinite “time” as to be completely incomprehensible, when being first became consciousness.
The layout of the stupa or temple on the ground replicates this process, beginning with the deployment, that is orientation, of space to the four cardinal directions. This Is done by first planting a gnoman or pillar at the center of the structure which represents the navel of the world, the axis miundi, The place or location of the center is determined geomantically where energy ley lines and/or a vortex in the earth already exist or which are brought to the site. It is ritually placed for the stupa in a “vajra striking” ceremony, hitting the ground with a vajra scepter which fixes or pins the energy at the center.
The center becomes the bindu, the original portal to the infinite/absolute, the goal of the journey through the mandala or stupa, to enlightenment. A circle is then drawn with a radius of 8 standard units determined for the site location as a multiple of the calculated geophysical foot or cubit which then becomes the dimension the main interior sacred space. This will be the only dimension needed as the rest of the mandala plan is generated by a progression of geometrically projecting a series of squares and circles both outward and inward which mirrors a cosmic process of creation. This circle is actually the second circle…the first being the apparent path of the sun around the earth which in truth, is the orbit of the earth around the sun. The path of the sun itself is a repeat of the first circle made by the movement of original Being into space and time.
By connecting the points on this circle where the shadow of the top of the gnoman intersect it as the sun crosses the sky during the course of the day, produces a true east/west line. If this is done on the spring and fall equinoxes, this line will pass through the gnoman pole. Drawing two more circles of the same diameter using the crossing points of the gnoman produces a vesica piscis diagram that produces a true north south line through the gnoman. The vesica is one of the key diagrams in sacred geometry symbolizing the fusion of opposites, i.e. duality into a singularity. The square drawn with its corners at the points of the vesica will square, i.e. equate in perimeter, to the original circle‘s circumference. This squaring of the circle is a way of equating symbolically the realm of spirit with the physical world or matter. It is done both geometrically and by the golden ratio known as phi (Ø, 1,618…) in sacred geometry. True east, the direction of the rising sun, is now established, the direction the stupa will face.
MATRIX MANDALA: Working outward by 4 units another circle within a square is drawn which represents the base of a four sided pyramid symbolizing the cosmic mountain of Mt. Meru. From there a sequence of larger squares related in the √2 harmonic ratio that will define the location of three terrace walls. The √2 is an irrational number(1.414…) without finite value corresponding to the creative principle of generation. These are the lower planes or dimensions of multi-dimensional reality. The outer circle is the boundary of the mandala and surrounding rings representing levels of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual preparation to enter the mandala.
The circle within this square is the realm or palace of the deity to whom the mandals is dedicated, being, for example, Vairocana, the chief among the five cosmic Dhyani Buddhas. These are represented by four more circles of the same size whose circumferences pass through the original center and which are placed at the four directions. These also represent the five elements: space, air, fire, water, earth.
Working inwards there is a sequence of ascending circles becoming smaller in the √2 harmonic ratio which represent the higher dimensions and will define the size of the elements on top of the dome such as the Harmika, Spire and Bowl. The Adi Buddha is infinite, unlimited by form and incorporates the entire Buddhist cosmos, is accessed through the Bindu portal. The stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s enlightened mind. Therefore maps the Buddhist path to enlightenment.
Adding circles for the Samsara realms and for nirvana complete the model of the cosmos.