This web site is oriented toward individuals who want to broaden their knowledge of early Buddhist history, much of which is obscure. This is the content side of the site, highlighting various subjects that are central to the understanding of how Buddhism and its sacred architecture evolved, particularly stupas. The information is gathered from scholarly research, and is often controversial and subject to ongoing debate. The goal is to introduce topics in brief, then steer you directly to original texts for a deeper understanding.
The web site is also a place to share experiences of being around stupas and other sacred structures. Scholarly knowledge is helpful, but the main point is the ongoing personal inspiration we gain from our relationship to these objects. The blog is meant to be a central part of this inquiry, and is structured both as a travelogue and a guide. The goal is to know stupas intimately for what they are and to seek them out for a first hand experience.
Thirdly, everything about the site is in support of the foundation’s primary goal of building Tibetan Peace Parks. This is the doing part, coming home to create sacred space in the West.
What to do with this web site:
An educational resource for learning more about sacred Buddhist structures and the historical context in which they arose. The primary focus is stupas, because they play such a central role in the physical record and everything else seems to revolve around them. They came into being at the earliest stage of Buddhism as relic mounds to inter the Buddha’s cremated bodily remains. They were regarded not as a symbol of the Buddha (as we moderns do), but as an actual embodiment of the Buddha and thus were highly devotional monuments. As time passed, areas that surrounded stupa sites were given over to lay practitioner dwellings, monasteries, deity shrines, and other sacred structures. In Sanscrit, the melodious name for many of these buildings are sangha-arama. These places became the center of worship for both the laity and for the sangha, and for some other surprising socio-economic purposes such as marketplaces and funerary grounds.
Explore the detail of what a stupa is architecturally. As structures, they evolved over time and in different cultures to a myriad of beautiful forms while retaining the same basic meaning. Studying the many types of stupas, monasteries, deity temples, sculptuary, and other structures is a fascinating topic. Within this exploration will be a review of designs that are the basis for construction occurring in the modern era.
Provide support for those wishing to build stupas today. Through photos of current day activities, and stories of community stupa building, we can all get inspired to continue this valuable tradition.