Pilgrimage is a long-standing tradition in Buddhism. Since the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, when the great Master told his disciples to remember him “by visiting the places” where he lived and taught, pilgrims have been following the footsteps of the Buddha at such sites as Lumbini, where he was born, and Bodhgaya, where he attained Enlightenment.
Buddha instructed that his relics be enshrined in stupas (literally, “mounds”), upon his passing or parinirvana ,at the eight places related to events in the his life. These stupas then became a focus for pilgrims’ veneration, offerings and aspirations.
Subsequently, eight types of stupa, each shape related to an event in the Buddha’s life, were built in other countries all over Asia and filled with relics of the Buddha and other enlightened masters. In this way, pilgrims of all ages, races, and social conditions could “meet the Buddha” through the relics enshrined in these monuments.
Now, more than 30 stupas have been built in North America, spreading the blessings of the Buddha to a new continent.
In 2013, a group of dharma students connected with Karma Triyana Dharmachakra received the blessing of KTD Abbot Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche to begin making pilgrimage to the stupas of North America. That year, we visited seven stupas in the Southwestern United States.
In 2014, at Khenpo Rinpoche’s suggestion, pilgrims visited 12 stupas in Eastern New York State.
This year, dharma students are invited to an “All-Colorado” journey for the 3rd Annual KTD Stupa Pilgrimage.
From August 27 to Sept. 1, 2015, Lama Kathy Wesley will lead dharma students to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in northern Colorado, the stupas of the Crestone Valley in southern Colorado, and the natural stone stupa of Tara Mandala in southwestern Colorado.
Pilgrims will ride a bus through the Colorado mountains, visiting five different stupas.
Throughout the trip, Lama Kathy will give short dharma talks about the nature of pilgrimage, aspiration, and offering. She will lead prayers and practices designed to recollect the most profound events in the Life of the Buddha, and to accumulate the merit of a symbolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land of India.
Pilgrims will meet in Denver on Thursday Aug. 27, and depart on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Cost of travel to Denver is not included in the pilgrimage fees.
Cost of the pilgrimage is $765 per person (double-occupancy with private bathroom) and includes all accommodations, meals, and bus transportation to the stupas. Pilgrims will have an opportunity to make lamp offerings, donations to the stupas, and meet several resident lamas during their journey. We also are trying to arrange other spiritual activities for the trip.
Single rooms may be available for an extra cost. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the single room package)
Due to the size of the tour bus, participation is limited to 27 persons.
Register soon to reserve your space. A $100 deposit is required by July 1, 2015. If the tour fails to attract a minimum of 20 participants by July 1, deposits will be refunded and the tour rescheduled for the spring of 2016. Deposits will not be returned if participants cancel on or after July 1, 2015.
Here’s a look at the schedule for the 3rd Annual KTD Stupa Pilgrimage:
Thursday, Aug. 27: Arrival Day
Arrive by air to Denver International Airport; take shuttle to airport hotel pre-arranged for our group. That evening, we will meet in the hotel dining room for an orientation to the pilgrimage.
Friday, Aug. 28: Day One, Great Stupa of Dharmakaya
After breakfast at the hotel, our tour bus will take us 90 minutes north of Denver where we will visit the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, an 108-foot-tall stupa in the Colorado mountains. There, we will tour the stupa, make offerings, recite prayers together, have lunch, and make aspirations before returning to the hotel for supper.
Saturday, Aug. 29: Day Two, Travel to Crestone and Stupa Film
After breakfast at the hotel, our tour bus will take us four hours south of Denver to the Crestone valley, a high alpine valley surrounded by mountains. After settling into our hotel, we will have an evening of teaching and see a film on the creation of the Crestone stupa dedicated to His Holiness the 16th Karmapa.
Sunday, Aug. 30: Day Three, Pilgrimage to Crestone Stupas
After breakfast at our hotel, we will see three monuments in the Crestone Valley: The Tashi Gomang Stupa of the 16th Karmapa; the Tulku Urgyen Stupa; and the Padmasambhava Stupa. We also will visit a Tibetan temple in the valley.
Monday, Aug. 31: Day Four, Tara Mandala
After breakfast at our hotel, we will travel two hours west of Crestone to see the natural stone stupa of Tara Mandala. We also will have lunch at the center and be able to circumambulate the Tara Mandala temple. We will return to our hotel in the evening for supper.
Tuesday, Sept. 1: Departure Day
After breakfast at our hotel, we will travel four hours to Denver International Airport. Our pilgrimage will be completed, but the virtue will live on in our memories.
We hope you can join us on this sacred journey!
We dedicate this pilgrimage to the long life of His Holiness Karmapa and all our teachers, the longevity of His Holiness Karmapa’s dharma in America, and our own growing appreciation for (and practice of!) dharma. May all beings benefit!