Empowerment of stupas<br><i>Clay workshop teaches how to make tsa-tsas this weekend</i><br>

Learn how to make tsa-tsas at Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Tibetan Buddhist center in Sedona, this weekend. A hole is made in the tsa-tsas to hold mantras or prayers.

All of Sedona is invited to participate in bringing this sacred architectural monument to the area in the first part of 2003, beginning with an around-the-clock clay workshop this weekend. There is no charge for this workshop and all materials will be provided.

"Stupas embody the mind of enlightenment and have historically brought great benefit to the communities in which they have been built," says Ani Miranda Coates, a member of KPC’s stupa and temple development team. "Filled with hundreds of millions of prayers for peace, relics and traditional offerings, they function like ceaseless generators of compassion and peace, fostering harmony, well-being and prosperity and balancing the forces of nature."

From 10 a.m. on Friday, December 6, through 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 8, KPC members and friends will be making tsa-tsas, sacred clay reliefs, that are an essential component for the empowerment of a stupa. The workshop will be held at KPC’s prayer center at 3270 White Bear, just off Dry Creek Road and next door to the Sedona Public Library.

Because of equipment limitations, only 15 people at a time can make tsa-tsas. Workshop participants are encouraged to sign up for two-hour slots during the 55-hour workshop. There are also certain dietary restrictions that must be followed. For more information, call Christine Lennard at 301-2682.

Making tsa-tsas in a meditative practice traditionally taught by meditation masters to eliminate obstacles, purify negativities and create positive energy or merit. It is also a form of pottery that is very precise and satisfying.

The tsa-tsas are made of clay, using a metal mold. A hole is made in the tsa-tsas to hold mantras or prayers. Then the tsa-tsas are sun-dried or fired in a kiln. A small roll printed with mantras is then inserted into the hollow space. Next, the hole is sealed and the tsa-tsas are painted gold. Thousands of these miniature symbols of enlightenment are used to fill a stupa. In fact, the greater their number, the greater the stupa’s power and blessing. KPC is producing about 7,000 tsa-tsas.

KPC members who are experienced in this ancient art will be present to guide newcomers to the practice. A step-by-step video will also be on hand for viewing. Although the workshop will be a concentrated period of time for making tsa-tsas, other opportunities are also available and can be scheduled.

KPC is well-known for its round-the-clock prayer vigil that has been unbroken in Sedona since 1999 and in Maryland since 1984. This continuous prayer creates an energy field of peace and benefit and is dedicated to ending suffering. That is why KPC has decided to dovetail the workshop with its prayer vigil.

Building the stupa is the first phase of KPC’s temple construction project. KPC is beginning with the stupa because of the great benefit it brings to everyone. "You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate stupas and enjoy their blessings. Building a stupa is a gift to yourself as well as a gift to the world," says Ani Sherab Khandro, KPC’s art director and a stupa builder.

In 1988 in Maryland, KPC built its first 36-foot stupa under the direction of Tibetan Buddhist masters. Since that time KPC has built more than two dozen stupas. A six-foot stupa is currently on KPC’s land in Sedona.

There are many opportunities for the Sedona community to participate in the building of the Sedona Stupa—from in-kind donations, financial contributions and volunteer labor in the building and stuffing of the stupa. "Everyone is warmly welcomed to help build the new stupa in Sedona," says Ani Miranda.

Just to see a stupa, to walk around it or to make prayers at a stupa is a blessing, whether a person knows about stupas or not. According to Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, KPC’s spiritual director, "Americans don’t have many places of pilgrimage, places that inspire faith. I have tried to empower each of the stupas with health-giving and life-extending qualities, so that those who are ill or dying have a place to go that is beyond the scope of the ordinary."

For more information, contact KPC at 928-282-5195 or at kpcdevelopment@earthlink.net

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