STUPA-1: Intro/Types/Functions & Evolution
The Stupa is a universal and ubiquitous Buddhist iconic shrine or monument of eastern culture, It has sprung out of and survived an ancient history from agrarian, pedestrian societies as a reminder to all who saw it of teachings of the Buddha and the sacred meaning and purpose of life, to become enlightened. It functioned as a focus of the spiritual activity of the community. In modern western culture the comparable icon might be the drive-up fast food restaurant or the big box store. Both equally ubiquitous and symbolic of the cultural decay in which they are found.
Our cultural institutions are crumbling, controlled by an elite and wealthy few who want to dominate the world. Our political, economic, financial, educational and religious institutions do not work and are due for radical change. This is the time of prophecy. We are in the midst of a great planetary and personal transformation…a great awakening and expansion in consciousness that has been predicted in many traditions for ages. The proposal to build The Stupa of the Great Awakening holds the promise of stimulating the global awakening of mankind. (See Functions of the Stupa and 12c below)
TYPES or FORMS OF STUPAS:
There are several types of Stupa, Basically it is a solid structure which is interacted primarily from the exterior in ritual circumambulation, though there are some with interior. The types of stupas vary through out south and eastern Asia depending on where they are located. All were representations of the Buddha. The origin of the stupa form stems from the final request of the dying Buddha, holding an upside down begging bowl as the appropriate form of a reliquary to hold his ashes.
1. The earliest were simple hemi-spherical shaped mounds of bricks holding relics and built on a circular platform common in India.
2. These evolved in complexity and function to incorporated terraced bases and structure on top of the domes such as in Nepal.
3. A much smaller monument type of shrine called a Chortan is common in Tibet and has been build in recent times in other parts of the world.
4. A domes type with a multi-stepped base called a Dagoba is built in Thailand, Myamar (Burma) and Cambodia.
5. In China and Japan the stupa took the form of the Pagoda, a multi-tiered wood structure with an open interior built around a mast in the center.
The basic form of the stupa combines the dome (a sphere: representing the higher planes/heaven) on a cube/square: representing the earth/physical plane and crowned with a pyramidal spire (triangle)-representing the bridge between heaven and earth. In totality the stupa represents the central cosmic Mountain, Mt.Meru, around which the universe orbits.
PURPOSE of the STUPA
The primary traditional functions of the stupa are as follows:
1. To model Buddhist cosmology, that is, multi-dimensional reality and to be a portal to these higher dimensions. The Stupa represents the Universe, the macrocosm. The stupa also represents the cosmic mountain, Mt Meru, in the ‘center’ of the universe.
2. To map the Path to Enlightenment, to Nirvana, through the dimensions, the objective of all Buddhist teaching and practice. Enlightenment is achieved through the acquisition of wisdom, the practice of compassion and the release of attachments and desires, including ultimately the ego.
3. To embody the Buddha in an physical architectural form to convey the reality of the Buddha. and invite its presence into it. The stupa is the microcosm.
4. To incorporate the Dharma or the teaching as a transmission in time and space. The Stupa represents Buddhism as a whole and thus merges dualities.
5. To conduct and transduce subtle energy creating an energy field and by connecting to the planetary grid to transmit this energy around the globe.
6. To be the spiritual focus of the community (Sangha). (These are the Three Jewels of Refuge: The Buddha, the Teaching and the Sangha.)
7. To be a reliquary for sacred objects.
8. To create a healing environment, promoting both personal and planetary transformation and transmuting negativity. In this regard the stupa is the fulfillment of prophecy.
In this last regard The Stupa of the Great Awakening: was prophecied to be built during this time of transformation to stimulate enlightenment world wide, bridging the east and west, unifying the globe in the common pursuit of peace and enlightenment.
The evolution of the temple as a model of reality: beginning with the pyramid as a prehistoric universal energy conductor merged with the cube (or square) representing earth or the physical dimensions with the dome, being the vault of heaven, is shown below. The terrace form of the domed stupa actually incorporates three forms of pyramids. (See Stupas & Pyramids).
The Pyramid/Mountain connects Heaven and Earth.
Man is represented by the triangle, is the mediator
between Heaven and Earth. In the global system
pyramids can be stepped or have sloped sides with
various different slope angles.