A vision as profound as that of the Garden of 1000 Buddhas that would inspire none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama to agree to perform its consecration must have a significant individual behind it. That individual is our lama Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, who will be in residence at Ewam in Arlee, Montana, from June 3-14 and speaking about the Garden vision at a June 3rd benefit in Missoula.
When Tulku Sang-ngag was first looking at land with students in western Montana for a possible Buddhist center, he was amazed when they stopped at the property in the Jocko Valley they eventually purchased. As he gazed around at the landscape, it was exactly like a vivid dream he had had as a child in Tibet: the property nestled in the valley like the heart of a lotus flower with the mountain ranges arrayed as eight petals of the lotus. This kind of geographic arrangement is considered extremely auspicious in Tibetan Buddhism.
Tulku Sang-ngag envisioned the Garden of 1000 Buddhas as a western reflection of Bodh Gaya in India. That is not only the holy site of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, but predicted as the site where all the 1000 Buddhas of this ‘Fortunate Eon’—Shakyamuni Buddha being only the fourth—will attain enlightenment. Originally Shakyamuni Buddha was to be the central figure in the Arlee Garden, but after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Tulku Sang-ngag felt strongly that the central figure should be Yum Chenmo, the ‘Great Mother’ who symbolizes the ultimate wisdom that gives birth to perfect compassion. This 25’ statue has been completed and will be painted and decorated by expert artisans this summer.
The Garden of 1000 Buddhas, as Tulku Sang-ngag sees it, will be a place of pilgrimage where visitors can connect deeply with their own innate qualities of wisdom, compassion, and peacefulness. If you’re in western Montana, or know folks who are, we encourage you to hear from Tulku Sang-ngag in person this Thursday evening at Missoula’s Florence Building. If you live elsewhere, please consider supporting the Garden of 1000 Buddhas with a contribution. This is a critical juncture when we’re marshaling the resources necessary to accomplish all of the infrastructure work for the Garden during Montana’s very short outdoor construction season. Thank you!