We received More than 1,300 golden statues (rupas) from a kind donor to have filled and blessed. I unexpectedly had the great good fortune to help fill the rupas for several days with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Khenpo Tenkyong, Lama Lodro Lhamo, Lama Karma Lodro, Lama Tsultrim, Lama Choenyi, Lama Karuna and KTD’s Protector Lama, Lama Thendup.
Beside myself, a few additional Volunteers – Orin and Marie came to help fill the small statues. Lama Yeshe Wangmo of Karme Ling helped and kept us fueled with awesome vegan brownies. Meanwhile, KTD Volunteer Susan Sayre (with the help of Gita and Holly) sorted, counted and repaired rupas when needed. The project took several days. Some of the rupas were kept for KTD; others were donated to other Dharma centers.
I was unaware of the amount of labor that goes into filling each relatively small statue. The appropriate mantras must be printed on a sheet, painted with saffron water and then cut into strips. Two strips of mantras are then rolled together around a piece of incense (called the spine), placed centrally within the rupa. The statue then is filled up with semi-precious jewels, blessing pills, special Tibetan medicine and perfumes. Then, the bottom is fixed back on. The final step will be when His Holiness Karmapa blesses them during his 2015 visit to the United States.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche worked tirelessly and so quickly – an unceasing wheel of activity.
Much of the time was spent merrily chanting the appropriate mantra for each set of rupas (Chenrezig, Manjushri, and so forth), listening to dharma talks given by His Holiness and lively banter back and forth, mainly about how auspicious it is to become a monastic and/or do a three-year retreat.
Being at Karme Ling was a blessing – you don’t even have to be an “advanced” dharma practitioner to live the joy and peace. It’s all the energy that goes into benefitting all beings that is ultimately experienced as effortless activity in that environment.
– Anne Hulett
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KTD Lamas, Karme Ling Lamas and volunteers preparing mantras and blessing substances to go into statues.
Khenpo Tenkyong places relic pills, mantras and other blessed substances inside the statues.
Khenpo Tenkyong places relic pill in the statue, along with small yellow-wrapped mantra rolls, gems, ground juniper, and other items, so that each statue embodies the body, speech, and mind of the awakened ones.
From left, Khenpo Tenkyong, Anne Hulett and Lama Lodro Lhamo work at the “filling” table; at right, Lama Lodro Lhamo places the golden statues top-down in a bed of rice in a baking dish, before taking them to Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche for finishing.
At his workbench, statue master Khenpo Rinpoche puts finishing touches on the filled statues. At right, a baking dish filled with rice holds the upside-down, filled statues, waiting for completion.
Khenpo Rinpoche gluing red felt to “finish” filled statues.