During an amazing summer of great progress on the Garden, many milestones were reached! We’ll start with the small stuff and work up to the big accomplishments! (Although it all seems so HUGE!) For most of us, water is VERY important for our health…for a Garden, water is a MUST have!
The irrigation has been laid and installed throughout the Garden, and a well, pump house, and some flower beds have been added! This addition to the first 100 trees that were planted last year means it is time to ask, how does your Garden grow?
In addition to this, the gravel inner-throne wall walkways have been laid, making it easy to circumambulate. And the outer throne wall walkways have just been completed as well in late October, just before the weather has turned!
In other great news, the one thousand stupas hand-carved from volcanic stone have arrived from Indonesia in crates.
Each stupa will have a Tara statue placed in the gau on the front of the statue. The Taras are being made by Dr. Tashi’s sangha in Taiwan.
The nuns at Rinpoche’s nunnery, Turquoise Leaf in Nepal are making the one thousand sogshings (blessing, mantra, medicine, the central channels) which will be inserted into each stupa.
Also completed this summer by Nepali artist Lama Sonam Tsering was the stupa on the Northeast side of Yum Chenmo. It is called “the stupa of reconciliation”, and commemorates Buddha’s reconciliation of the disputing factions of the sangha.
This summer in an amazing act of generosity to the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, 163 stupas have been sponsored at $200/each by a large group of citizens from Japan. During such a period of turmoil in the wake of the tsunami there, these supporters have opened their hearts to the potential of this spiritual place in Arlee, MT, so far from their own home, after having been inspired by faithful students of Rinpoche’s, Mimi and Ronnie Colsen.
Last year, these dedicated students of Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche inspired and followed through to help almost 150 Buddha statues to be sponsored by the people of Japan as well. What is so amazing is that while these resilient citizens could be spending their time and money taking care of their families and healing from the disasters that have befallen them, they have chosen to open up even more to care for the spiritual health and happiness for the benefit of all beings. A HUGE and heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to these gracious families in Japan and to Mimi and Ronnie from the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.
In June 2011, the new Ewam Buddhist Center in Missoula hosted a special week of Buddhist teachings given by Namchak Khenpo, the brother and spiritual heir of Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, on the Mahayana Tibetan Buddhist path as discussed in Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva. This shedra, or multi-year retreat, offered an in-depth study of one of the greatest spiritual texts ever written on the principles of compassion. Namchak Khenpo kept a dozen eager students engaged daily, teaching from the text commentary and offering prayers and practices in the evening to help the students dispel obstacles to practice. An interesting addition to the weekend was that a translator, Vanessa, was Skyped-in from LA. With only a few modem dropouts, this was an efficient way to bring the dharma to Missoula without having a translator present. Though Khenpo only spends about 6 months a year in MT, the Ewam sangha and community benefits greatly from each and every teaching with him as he is skilled in all areas of Buddhist practice. He will return next July 2012 to teach at Ewam. We wish him safe travels and pray for his swift return home to us!
At the beautiful Sawtooth Botanical Gardens in Sun Valley, ID, deep connections were made during a fundraiser for the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in late June 2011. Planned in cooperation by Ewam’s Development Coordinator, Raquel Castellanos and Sun Valley resident and sangha sister, Mary Ann Chubb, the fundraiser succeeded in more ways than just financially. Many Ewam members attended the event, some driving all the way from MT or other parts of ID in one afternoon to make the event including Lama Tsomo, Roberta, Trish, Alli, Georgia, Deb and Jason, Tsering, and others!
The Sawtooth Botanical Gardens and the Ewam Buddha Garden share something in common. The Buddha Garden is making plans to bring His Holiness, the Dalai Lama to MT. The Sawtooth Botanical Garden hosted him in Sun Valley a few years ago where he consecrated a prayer wheel built at the Garden.
During the fundraiser, while the community raised almost $18K for the MT project, the connections forged between the people of Sun Valley and Arlee, MT raised spirits and expectations of intertwined spiritual connections between everyone involved for years to come. Featuring excellent music, catering, live and silent auctions and breathtaking surroundings, the event was a smashing success all around. Lama Tsomo then gave a wonderful teaching the following day on happiness and its causes to an eager crowd. Many thanks must be offered to Sawtooth Botanical Gardens, all the supporters, Mary Ann Chubb and Raquel Castellanos for forging opportunities to share common values in extraordinary circumstances! May we continue to share the vision of peace and beauty in sacred spaces like the Gardens!
It was Valentine’s Day when an email came through the website to the Garden media department from the producer Trent Harris of the National PBS show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Mr. Harris wrote: “Our program is housed in Washington DC and is broadcast nationally. We are very interested in the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. It sounds like a wonderful place and a great idea for a story for our show. We would like to come to Montana to film and do interviews. I am hoping we might be able to set something up very soon, perhaps next week. Is this a possibility?” NEXT WEEK? Covered in a thick, sloppy blanket of snow, with the Garden during the deserted, dismal, Montana, muddy-frozen mess, we thought to ourselves “Oh, please, come in the Spring when this place looks like the hobbit-filled Shire-land”! So, we urged Trent to wait until May when the Garden would film like a garden should, with trees and flowers blooming, birds and bees buzzing, and during Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche’s scheduled visit to teach Shinay in MT. After reading some links we sent to him like the NY Times article about the wonderful Tribal relations that were unfolding on the sacred ground in Arlee, Trent seemed intrigued and happily agreed to postpone until May, realizing the opportunity to interview Rinpoche and the Tribal representatives could be a great, news-worthy story. Months of emails and phone calls flew by while all the plans were made.
The day began on May 22 at 9am with a lovely Sunday morning pancake breakfast with the TV producer Trent Harris and interviewer Lucky Severson and our charismatic crew that we invited to be interviewed: Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche with Karma Tensum (accompanied by his brother) of TCEF translating, dining side-by-side with Salish-Kootenai tribal representatives Steve Lozar, Julie Cajune, and Dan Decker. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, yet palpably purposeful, with those present coming together with a common goal: to discuss the Garden, its founder, and the relationship between two indigenous people and their interactions, struggles, and peaceful resistance to global violence.
While Trent Harris skillfully operated the camera and sound equipment, Lucky Severson expertly interviewed TSR about his time spent as a captive of the communists, his vision of the Garden as a small child, and how a sacred site of this nature can turn the tide of negativity in these degenerate times.
Having interviewed the Dalai Lama himself along with countless spiritual leaders and groups, Lucky Severson indeed lived up to his namesake, being able to adeptly bring out questions and illicit moving responses from each interviewee including Tribal Council leader Steve Lozar, Salish-educator Julie Cajune, and SKC Tribal legal representative Dan Decker, while capturing the awesome Jocko-Valley landscapes surrounding the Garden. During the interview, Steve Lozar offered “I can’t think of better neighbors!” They walked, they talked, they shared stories and laughs, as well as common ground of tears shed.
The interview wrapped up in the place where all the Buddhas are cast, the beloved Buddha Barn where volunteers David and Jacob were pouring the concrete for a statue in perfect timing for Rinpoche to explain the casting process for the camera and insert the sacred scrolls and blessings in the central shaft of the statue. To view the complete video which aired on PBS on June 17, 2011, visit the VIDEO tab on this site!
In May 2011, Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche visited Ewam and the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas to teach Shinay meditation to 30 devoted students at the new Ewam Buddhist Center in Missoula. A 7-day retreat focusing on teaching calm abiding techniques, the foundational meditation practice for Tibetan Buddhist students taught was translated by visiting Khenpo Sonam of Los Angeles, CA, and attended by novice and expert alike including Rinpoche’s brother and spiritual heir, Khenpo Namchak, and Rinpoche’s long-time student and Ewam/Namchak teacher in MT, Lama Tsomo. The week was filled with special evening practices such as the heart sutra, refuge, and bodhisattva vows, and tsok feasts. Given that Rinpoche visits Montana only 2-3 times per year, it was a special opportunity for long-time and new students of Rinpoche’s to spend valuable moments with him, learning and serving the Dharma. For information on upcoming retreats and related events in Missoula and Arlee, visit the Ewam website for the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism and Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche.
The new gift store opened in May 2011 at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT. Open daily from 12-4pm, the shop offers Tibetan and Nepalese items including prayer flags, prayer beads and jewelry, scarfs and pashminas, incense, cards, CD’s, meditation supplies, art, and much more! Look for a new Ewam product line to be announced soon with speciality items made by Ewam volunteers especially for you! Please plan to stop in when visiting the Garden so you can pick up informational brochures, sign up to volunteer and offer donations for construction, as well as purchase many unique items. Proceeds from your store purchases help fund Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche’s many activities within the Ewam International Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism.
After many years of planning to create a Missoula presence with many goals including helping students and supporters to connect with the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, Ewam has opened a new Buddhist Center and Tibetan Store at 180 S. 3rd St. West (above Meadowsweet Herbs and next to Bernice’s Bakery in the hip-strip area of downtown near the river) in April of 2011. The first meditation retreat was held there and taught by Lama Tsomo in early May with wonderful success! Currently with a limited shop featuring lovely Tibetan and Nepalese gifts and special opening times during events like First Friday, the new space also offers open, silent meditation hours every Monday and Tuesday morning from 6:30-7:30am, Wednesday mornings from 7:30-8:30am, and evening guided meditation practices every Thursday evening at 7pm and every Sunday morning at 10am.
Several First Friday events have been held, FREE public talks about Buddhism and other topics, and regular meditation retreats have been offered in the new center so far and the year is filling with other events and activities. Very soon the store will be open for regular hours weekly to be announced. To find out more about the schedule, please see the calendar on this site as well as flyers located on the door of the center. Contact Ewam to inquire about renting the space for your workshop, yoga session, or event or sign up to receive weekly emails! 406.726.0555
It’s an extraordinary day for broader awareness of Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche’s vision of the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. This morning’s New York Times features an article by Helena-based journalist Jim Robbins and Missoula photographer Mike Albans entitled, ‘On an Indian Reservation, A Garden of Buddhas.’ Leading the National page, the piece focuses on how two potentially clashing communities in close proximity—Tibetan Buddhist and First Nations—have instead followed their better instincts of mutual respect and deeper understanding of one another. Your thoughts on what the article brings out?
Namchak Khenpo and Pend d’Oreille elder Stephen SmallSalmon sharing good humor at the 6th Annual Peace Festival at the Garden of 1000 Buddhas site this past September
So many wonderful thing have occurred in the evolution of the Garden of 1000 Buddhas project this year—His Holiness the Dalai Lama officially accepting Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche’s invitation to perform the consecration upon its completion; Nepali artist Sonam Tsering bringing of the central Yum Chenmo statue into brilliantly colored life and golden gloriousness; a lotus-shaped inner walkway and Buddha statue throne walls now radiating from Yum Chenmo’s central energy pulse; nearly 700 Buddha statues complete, at least 100 of which have been sponsored by faithful in Japan due to the irresistible enthusiasm of two energetic supporters; a constant stream of the visiting curious—but we were stunned by the last development, a bolt out of the seeming clear blue. (Do you have a Facebook account and want to see lots more about the Garden’s progress? Click here!)
About three weeks ago, our office manager Amy emerged from her cubby cradling the phone: “Does anyone want to take a call from the New York Times?”
The voice on the other end was Helena-based freelance journalist and author Jim Robbins. He explained that he’d been tipped to the Garden’s presence on a tour of Glacier National Park by none other than NBA coach and self-described ‘Zen Christian’ Phil Jackson, who lives part-time in NW Montana. Jim had then brought his family down for a Graden visit without identifying himself, liked what he saw, and pitched the tale to the Times. The good folks in New York gave the green light, and Jim gave us a jingle.
His timing was excellent. Tulku Sang-ngag was soon arriving to preside over two retreats in Arlee, and interview time was arranged for this past Sunday. Here, Jim on the left speaks with Rinpoche and his close student Lama Tsomo; Karma Thegsum, Executive Director of the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation and also pictured, kindly drove all the way from Butte to provide excellent translation. Photojournalist Ted Wood journeyed up with Jim to soak it up and shoot; both had snuck out of a Missoula journalists’ conference.
We also invited Julie Cajune, Salish educator, historian and progressive advocate, as well as beloved Ewam friend, to speak to the deeper currents of the story. These involve the background of the presence of non-tribal people such as the Ewamcommunity on the Flathead Reservation. She and Rinpoche also described remarkable similarities in their spiritual forms, as well as their shared experience as members of people groups displaced from their homelands by alien, occupying forces. It was a profound conversation.
Then on Wednesday morning, photographer Michael Albans, a recent transplant to Missoula from his Brooklyn home and gig as a Daily News shooter, arrived to get shots to support the story. The dozen images he sent to the Times were extraordinary and we got him to give us this whimsical shot of Tulku Sang-ngag astride the ’69 Norton chopper we’re raffling off before next year’s riding season!
We completed the fact-checking with Jim yesterday, the story’s been put to bed, and now we’re eagerly waiting to hear when it will be published. As soon as we know you will too!