The Importance of Erecting Stupas in the World
Please enjoy the following teaching by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche from 1993 at the site of the Great Stupa of Awakening in Colorado.
The Buddha taught many skillful means through which one can accomplish the two goals of temporary happiness in the higher realms and the definitive virtue of full enlightenment. To accomplish these goals, one must accumulate merit and purify obscurations through four key methods: 1) to erect a stupa in a place where there is no stupa, 2) to offer or build a monastery for a sangha gathering, 3) to pacify disharmony within a sangha group, 4) to cultivate loving kindness towards all living beings equally. In all Buddhist doctrines, these four are the most supreme practices for accumulating merit and purifying obscurations.
Among these four methods, the most important is to erect a stupa in a place where no stupa exists. As the Buddha taught in the sutras, besides the inconceivable amount of merit accrued from building a stupa, even if a child simply makes the image of a stupa with sand while playing, this act alone generates so much merit that it will lead this child eventually to the ultimate awakening of buddhahood. This merit itself can bring about incredible results without a doubt.
In terms of the size of the stupa to be erected, as the sutras state, just to build a stupa in a size as small as a myrobalan seed will enable one to temporarily take rebirth as a chakravartin ruler possessing inconceivable wealth and happiness and ultimately to attain buddhahood in a short period of time. The merit of erecting a large stupa of fine quality will be even more inconceivable.
Such being the case, if you make a generous donation to the construction of a stupa, it goes without saying that the merit accrued will be extremely vast. Even a small donation equivalent to the amount of one percent of your food consumed in the three meals of one day will generate the merit that enables one not to be born as poor or displeasing but rather to always enjoy a pleasing appearance and material abundance life after life—and before too long to attain buddhahood.
As for those who personally participate in the construction of a stupa, if they spend time undergoing the hardships and difficulties involved in building it, there is no doubt that they will accumulate an inconceivable amount of merit. Even just carrying one stone for building a stupa during a tea break will enable one to be born as a chakravartin ruler as many times as the number of atoms that make up that one stone, and eventually, to attain perfect bliss and ultimate peace free from the suffering of cyclic existence.
These are the overall benefits that building a Buddhist stupa brings about. If you construct a magnificent stupa specifically in honor of the guru, the merit generated is increased hundreds or even thousands of times. This is because the root guru is the union of the Three Jewels—his or her body is the sangha, his or her speech is the dharma, and his or her mind is the buddha. Further, if this stupa contains the precious relics of the root guru, it will produce the same merit as building relic stupas for all buddhas in countless worlds throughout the ten directions. Even if it is built with ordinary rocks and clay, you will still accumulate immeasurable merit comparable to building stupas for all buddhas and bodhisattvas with seven kinds of precious jewels.
Since you are constructing this great stupa to honor the root master, you will accumulate merit and enjoy wholesome results as boundless as what I’ve just mentioned. In addition, making a donation or serving this project physically or verbally will accumulate boundless merit. Anyone who takes part in this project with the utmost energy and enthusiasm will enjoy longevity, good health, auspiciousness, and happiness in this present life; and in their next life, they will be reborn in a pure land such as Sukhavati in the West.
This teaching is the speech of the great Master Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, a direct representative of the Buddha and all bodhisattva followers, who thus explains the great meaning and benefit of building a stupa in honor of one’s teacher.