Photo: Robert Barros


“If offerings are made to stupas on behalf of the sick, troubled, or deceased, these individuals will benefit wherever they are.  Life can be extended, effects of harmful actions purified, obstacles pacified, and positive qualities enriched. Such blessings do not diminish over time.”                  -H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

The Stupa Restoration Project is in full swing again this year with enthusiastic new crew members.

We’re delighted to announce that due to the commitment and generosity of several donors, we have a matching fund of $5,000. This means that every dollar you offer for this project will be doubled by the donors when we reach $5,000. We invite you to participate in this meritorious project by contributing financially and/or by volunteering your time and energy. All are welcome. No skill is necessary, although it is always appreciated. Join us!

If you’d like to come and volunteer please contact our office (sangha@chagdudgonpa.org or 530-623-2714) to make arrangements. We’re working all summer and we’d love to have you.

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News About the Various Aspects of the Spiritual Park

Update since last Summer

Last summer, during Lama Zangpo’s extended stay at Rigdzin Ling, we were able to beautifully restore the Stupa of the Descent from the Tushita Heaven. This is the fifth of the eight stupas and commemorates Buddha Shakyamuni’s return to the human world after teaching his mother in the Gods’ Realm. We chose to concentrate on completing this stupa first, but soon discovered that it needed much more repair than we had expected.  The volunteers pressed on, of course, and after many, many weeks of daily replacing, repairing and re-painting, Stupa Five was finally finished. It is now looking magnificent again.

Thanks to the volunteer crew of professional masons, significant progress was made on the restoration of the Enlightenment Stupa, Stupa One. This commemorates the Buddha’s attaining enlightenment. During their long weekend here they were able to put the final concrete finish on the surface of the bumpa and spire and then mortar and screw all the ornamental plaques in place. Lama Zangpo then painted the spire with gold paint.

Significant Results from Restoration

There have been three winters since 2011 when the major concrete restoration work was done on the bumpas and spires of Stupas One and Two. We are happy to tell you that the restoration work has significantly reduced the amount of rust appearing on the outside of the bumpas. This spring there were only small areas of rust showing. We have included in our slide show ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of Stupa One in 2009 and 2014, for you to rejoice with us in how far we have come in its restoration. 

This Summer

Our plan for this year is to complete the restoration of the Enlightenment Stupa and the Stupa of Many Doors, Stupa Three. Painting is already in progress on the upper portion of the Enlightenment Stupa.

The Stupa of Many Doors, commemorating the Buddha’s extensive teachings, has a new top to its bumpa and we’ve just finished pouring the new ornamental plaques for it. Also, we have cast, painted and will soon install all of the forty-eight plaques, the many doors, on this stupa.   

Next Summer

In 2015 we will complete the restoration of the Stupa of Heaped Lotuses, Stupa Two, that commemorates the Buddha’s birth. Although the four steps of large lotus petals below the bumpa will require extensive restoration, the concrete of the bumpa and the spire has been restored and now awaits its final smooth concrete surface and ornamental plaques. In 1997 we were all surprised when H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche decided to paint this stupa bright red. Over the years and after many restorations and much new paint, the original color became hidden. Recently the built up layers of paint all peeled off together and Rinpoche’s original choice of red was revealed! We took a chip of this from the north side of the stupa where the color was less likely to have faded and will match it.

A Brief History

Chagdud Gonpa Rigdzin Ling was the first place in the Americas where the Eight Great Stupas that commemorate eight significant events in the Buddha’s life were constructed and consecrated. Following are some recollections concerning the building and maintenance of these stupas.

Stupas One and Two were completed in about 1997. Stupa Two contains precious relics from H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche that were treasured by Chagdud Rinpoche. The remaining six stupas were completed in 2000 and a year later Chagdud Rinpoche consecrated all of the stupas. What a glorious occasion that was!

A few years after completion of Stupas One and Two, rust began to appear as a result of an accelerator that was mixed into the concrete before it was poured into the forms for the bumpas and spires. Because it was a cold late fall, just before the concrete was poured this accelerator was added to speed up the setting of the concrete. When Rinpoche was informed of the rust, he remarked, simply, “Once the stupas are built they have a life of their own.”

Over the years many people have offered their time and much effort to mitigate the rust that came out of the concrete of the bumpas and spires on Stupas One and Two. The rust ran down and left stains over most of the paint despite our attempts to mitigate it.

By 2007, Stupas One and Two were in obvious need of attention. The remaining six stupas still appeared to be in relatively good shape but some ornamental plaques, including some of the buddha images, had fallen off.  No mechanical fasteners (screws) were used when we mortared the plaques onto the stupas in 2000. That year we finished six stupas in six months, including making all the ornamental plaques. It was a dawn-to-after-dusk operation carried out daily by an eager if undertrained crew.

The Stupa Restoration Project was scheduled to begin in 2008 but was postponed due to a wildfire that threatened Rigdzin Ling.

The Stupa Restoration Project finally began in 2009 with a small crew of enthusiastic volunteers and the appearance of a professional concrete restorer who gave us valuable advice that we have followed ever since. At one point, a hardworking monk showed up and suggested we paint the bell of the Parinirvana Stupa, Stupa Eight, that commemorates the Buddha’s passing into Nirvana. Since we painted it, that beautiful bell has shone gloriously in the sunlight and has been a source of inspiration for all to see.

The next year, in addition to accomplishing many smaller tasks, our enthusiastic volunteers made a big push and repaired and re-painted the yellow bases of the six stupas. The yellow paint really improved the general appearance of the whole row of stupas.

By the summer of 2011, due to the great generosity of many people, we were able to hire a professional concrete restorer full time for several months. The concrete of the bumpas and spires of Stupas One and Two was repaired, rusted rebar was replaced and all cracks were filled. We also repaired the top of the bumpa on Stupa Three. In all, we used a total of eight different types of cement-based materials. It was a busy, creative and exciting summer.

The Stupas and the Spiritual Park

For now, our main thrust is the restoration of the stupas. We have plans to repair the roof ornaments of the Guru Rinpoche statue pavilion, and repair and repaint the Vajrakilaya prayer wheel house and the Tsatsa House. We will make the 13,000 tsatsas needed to fill the Tsatsa House. When all the scaffolding is removed from around the stupas we will construct the circumambulation path with extensive landscaping. Come and volunteer.  Join us!

In Summary

With each passing year Rigdzin Ling is becoming more and more beautiful.  The many visitors are touched by the peace and beauty here. A recent guest from Connecticut who had never seen a stupa before spent most of his short visit painting on the Enlightenment Stupa and he plans to return to paint again. Many local people bring friends to Rigdzin Ling to share with them the awesome beauty and sacredness of the place.

Whether or not visitors realize it, they are all touched by Chagdud Rinpoche’s blessing and vast intention to benefit to all beings. How amazing it is that we have the good fortune to be able to participate in perpetuating Rinpoche’s vision here at Rigdzin Ling.  We deeply rejoice that the participation and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and donors, past and present, continue to make this possible.  

Please contribute to our matching fund!
Join us! Participate!  

“If one participates in a stupa’s construction or honors the completed stupa with an altruistic resolve to benefit all beings, then the blessings are such that the Buddha himself could not describe them.”
Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche

Whether or not you can participate physically in the restoration of the stupas, making a monetary offering towards their up-keep generates great merit and makes this work possible. 

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You may also make a donation by phone: 530.623.2714 ext. 127
You may also mail a check out to ‘Chagdud Gonpa Foundation’:

PO Box 279 Junction City, CA 96048

Please indicate ‘stupas’ or ‘stupas and spiritual park’ on your check or when you make a credit card donation.  Your offering will go towards the maintenance of the stupas as well as all the other elements of the spiritual park.  

Dedication of merit 
Through the merit of having anything at all to do with the Stupa Restoration and Spiritual Park Project, may benefit and happiness abound for all beings throughout space and time.