Our story started 14 years ago with just a few Buddhist lay people in Raleigh, North Carolina. Under the supervision of Geshe Gelek Chodha, they began an initiative to cast 1,000 statues of Shakyamuni Buddha to pray for world peace, prosperity and happiness. Based on a very famous ancient statue in Nepal, each Buddha wears a graceful robe imprinted with the Eight Auspicious Symbols (https://fpmt.org/mandala/archives/mandala-for-2014/july/eight-auspicious-signs/). Over the course of ten years, many people traveled to Raleigh to help cast, sand and paint the statues. The 1,000 statues were completed in July 2016 and represent all the Buddhas that will appear in this cosmic eon.
These Shakyamuni Buddha statues are based on a very famous ancient statue in Nepal. Each Buddha wears a graceful robe imprinted with the Eight Auspicious Symbols (https://fpmt.org/mandala/archives/mandala-for-2014/july/eight-auspicious-signs/).
After a statue is casted by hands, the temple has performed the followings.
- All Buddha statues are fine-tuned to ready them for painting. This process takes about 1 to 2 hours for each statue.
- Buddha statues are washed and then dried indoors for at least 3 months to obtain the perfect condition for painting.
- Buddha statues are hand painted with three layers of the same paint that is used to paint Buddha statues in Thailand.
- A Tibetan artist who graduated from an Art School in Dharamsala, India, carefully paints the details on the Buddha statues.
- The Buddha statues will be filled with blessings of the Buddha’s enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities and activity; mantras and mandalas; earth and other sacred substances.
- After the Buddha statues are filled, a ceremony will be performed purified of defilements and blessed with enlightened body, speech and mind through meditation, mantras, and prayers.
Mantras, meaning “mind protection”, are Sanskrit syllables that “embody the qualities of the deity which they represent. They bring benefit to all who see, touch, hear or speak them. In the case of statues, many mantras are individually cut out and then rolled up around a stick of incense, bundled and then placed inside the statue in a specific order, according to the deity being represented. Lama Yeshe says, “Mantra is energy. It is always pure, and cannot be contaminated by negative thought processes. As mantra is not gross energy, it cannot be corrupted the way sensory phenomena are corrupted by our own minds.”
In August 2016, a nearly 6-acre property with a beautiful lake view and mature trees in Greensboro, NC, was selected to build the Thousand Buddha Temple for the study of Buddhism, and for the practice of meditation. The Temple will feature a Gompa (shrine room) graced by a large Buddha statue surrounded by the 1,000 Shakyamuni Buddha statues.