The Purpose of the Garden

Dedicated as an International Peace Center, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas supports people in cultivating inner peace and in preserving the ancient culture of Tibet. The mission of the Garden is to provide visitors of all faiths with an opportunity to generate profound merit, to reduce global negativities, and to bring about lasting peace. Through the use of the ancient symbols of Buddhism, the Garden awakens one’s natural inner qualities of joy, wisdom, and compassion.

Garden Features

Within the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas rests the inspiring central figure of Yum Chenmo. She is also known as The Great Mother of Transcendent Wisdom. One thousand Montana-made images of the Buddha, arranged in the shape of an eight-spoked Dharma wheel, encircle Yum Chenmo. In addition to the thousand Buddhas, one thousand stupas surmount the two exterior throne walls, creating the outer rim of the Dharma wheel, or Dharmachakra. This is a meaningful ancient symbol from India which has come to be associated with the Buddha’s teachings (dharma) when he “turned the wheel (chakra),” setting in motion the teachings on the path to liberation and enlightenment. The dharma wheel literally represents the wheel of transformation; spiritual change; the turning toward awakening. The directions in which the eight spokes radiate represent the Buddhist noble eight-fold path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Yum Chenmo/Prajnaparamita/The Great Mother

Seated at the center point of the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is the 24-foot tall figure of Yum Chenmo, or Prajnaparamita in Sanskrit meaning Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom. She is depicted in feminine form because it is this perfect wisdom which gives birth to all of the Buddhas, as well as the bodhisattvas, those who are striving for enlightenment to benefit all beings. Yum Chenmo represents the union of primordial wisdom and the skillful means of compassion.

One Thousand Buddhas

According to the Buddhist texts, we are living in an enormous cycle of time known as The Fortunate Aeon. It is fortunate because it is believed that one thousand Buddhas will take birth, attain enlightenment, and teach the path to liberation. Of these one thousand, the Buddha of our particular time, Shakyamuni, is only the fourth to have descended on Earth. It is further explained that all of the one thousand Buddhas will attain enlightenment at the site now known as Bodh Gaya, in India. Montana’s Garden of One Thousand Buddhas embodies the pure reflection of Bodh Gaya to benefit those who may never have the chance to travel to India.

One Thousand Stupas

The stupa is one of the world’s oldest architectural forms. Originally constructed as reliquaries to honor the remains of great kings and warriors, evolving in sophistication since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha stupas have enshrined the relics of enlightened masters. The one thousand stupas which encircle the Garden are in the style known as the stupa of enlightenment. Each element, from the base to the tip of the spire, represents an aspect of the path to enlightenment, collectively symbolizing the mind of awakening. Each of these one thousand stupas also enshrine an image of the female deity Tara, serving as a potent reminder that spiritual liberation is equally the birthright of all beings. See our Stupa Sponsorship page to read an article about Stupas.

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The Great Mother, Yum Chenmo abides, surrounded by the thousand Buddhas and stupas. Her crown ornaments represent the five Buddha families. She holds a lotus flower on her right for primordial purity. To her left, a lotus holds the texts of the Perfection of Wisdom/Prajnaparamita sutras. The body and base of Yum Chenmo are filled with sacred relics, prayers, and thousands of mantras. Yum Chenmo is vibrantly painted in the traditional Tibetan style and covered by a 36-foot tall pavilion. The ornaments behind her on the halo, or gyab yul, represent the six perfections. Elephants represent concentration. Snow lions stand for wisdom. The deer embody harmony. Dwarves personify effort. Makaras typify patience. Naga serpents illustrate discipline and morality. The garuda at the top symbolizes generosity. The ornaments on the throne include the vajra representing the powerful and compassionate nature inherent in all beings. The snow lions standing with paws up signify the Yogin's determination toward awakening. The four paws of the snow lion stand for the four immeasurable qualities of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.