Located on Baldwin Avenue in Paia, the Maui Dharma Center’s Lha Bab
Stupa stretches 27 feet into the sky. A square base houses a room that
will hold a traditional Tibetan prayer wheel. Above that is a rounded
section meant to hold a myriad of sacred objects.
“A Stupa is a symbol of the Wisdom Teachings of all the Buddhas, and
represents the Perfect Enlightened Mind,” reads a Dharma Center
brochure. “It is a place where all the Buddhas abide, and contains
numerous sacred, rare, and meaningful objects.”
Among these objects are thousands of Tsa Tsas—small gold and red
relics containing a prayer. The prayers are inscribed by hand on tiny
strips of paper, then wrapped around a small piece of incense. Members
of the Dharma Center made the Tsa tsas over a period of several months.
Starting Saturday morning, a two-day event will feature traditional
Tibetan ceremonies including prayers, blessings and offering
preparations.* Several spiritual leaders—called Lamas—from throughout
the state will officiate, along with Lama Gyaltsen, the Maui Dharma
Center’s resident Lama and project overseer.
As part of the celebration, the Dharma Center is giving the public
an opportunity to contribute items of their own that they value and
want placed within the Lha Bab Stupa. The event will culminate at 2
p.m. Sunday afternoon when the section of the Stupa that holds the
religious items will be sealed.
Suggested items for inclusion are jewelry, precious metals, rare
medicines, crystals, small musical instruments, herbs and seeds. Dharma
Center officials ask that attendees refrain from bringing any large
objects, human or animal ashes, hair or chipped and unclean items.
The Maui Dharma center broke ground for the Lha Bab Stupa in April
of 2005. It’s dedicated to the late Lama Tenzin, who passed away in
2001 and was the Center’s first full-time resident teacher.
Since construction began, volunteers have shaped the structure into
a truly impressive addition to Paia. Careful consideration has been
given to ensure that the exact dimensions meet the true Tibetan Stupa
requirements. The structures are said to be a silent teaching of the
Buddha, and hold the power to bring peace and liberation to those who
look upon them.
There are eight types of Stupas, each commemorating a time in the
Buddha’s life. The Dharma Center’s Lha Bab Stupa commemorates the
Buddha’s descent from the God Realm of Tushita and his subsequent
return to earth.
Buddhists believe that when the Buddha died, his remains were
scattered in 10 different Stupas. None of these have been identified,
but there is speculation surrounding a couple Stupas in India. Some
believe they are restorations of the original places of Buddha’s
* Due to an editing error, this sentence originally incorrectly characterized the event.