108 Stupas of the Changchub Dorje Project

For some time now Migmar Tsering and the Dynamic Space of the Elements have been working on an important project based on a terma of Changchub Dorje that gives details on building 108 different Stupas to harmonize and pacify the planets and the elements.

A page from Rigdzin Changchub Dorje’s text.

Rigdzin Changchub Dorje had rediscovered this terma before the Chinese Revolution and considered that building the Stupas would harmonize the conflict between the elements and avoid the rising problem of war. War means that there is conflict between the five inner and five outer elements, externally manifesting as natural disasters, while internally as conflicts between people. 

At the time Changchub Dorje advised the Tibetan government to undertake this project of building the 108 Stupas along all the borders of Greater Tibet (Central Tibet, Kham, Amdo) but it seems there was little response to his advice. So at his place of residence, Nyaglagar, he began sculpting the form of some of the Stupas on rocks and constructing others using a particular type of lime, although he did not manage to finish construction of all 108.  

Two of the Stupas inscribed on rocks at Changchub Dorje’s village in East Tibet.

In 2013 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu envisioned and created a world map related to the Dance of the Vajra and the energetic points on our planet. In 2014, following the idea of Changchub Dorje to place the 108 Stupas around the borders of Tibet, Rinpoche suggested creating these Stupas and placing them around the globe at particular energetic points and at the places of the Dzogchen Community Gars and Lings.

Precision drawings of two of the 108 Stupas.

From 2013-15 Migmar Tsering and the Dynamic Space of the Elements tried to develop this idea and created 3D designs of some of the Stupas. However, at the time, they were unable to go ahead with the project due to other commitments and financial difficulties. 

From 2018 Migmar took up this work again and, the previous year, even managed to show Rinpoche the first seven designs of the Stupas in 3D that had been created by Franco V. 

In 2018 Migmar and Dynamic Space started fundraising with the aim of buying a 3D printer, but were not satisfied with the quality of the results. After the first eight 3D drawings were ready they travelled around Italy asking craftsmen about the possibility of constructing these Stupas in various materials such as wood, metal, marble and so on. They discovered that the manufacture would not be easy because the various craftsmen were unacquainted with the structure of a Stupa and it meant that Migmar would have to work with them the whole time and advise them on exactly what was required. 

The “Stupa of Space” from the “Potentiality of the Elements” exhibition-

Migmar finally presented wooden models of the first five Stupas from the terma and displayed them at the Museum of Asian Art and Culture in Arcidosso in December 2022 as part of the Potentiality of the Elements exhibition. Migmar had worked with a carpenter to create them although constructing them in wood had not been easy because it required special equipment and a very skillful carpenter. Attempts to create them in ceramics at the time were not very successful.

Two models of Stupa that were on display (the first of a series of 108) linked to the five elements and part of the precious terma of Rigdzin Changchub Dorje.

Based on the written terma and the Stupas at Nyaglagar inscribed on rocks, Migmar and Dynamic Space now have designs for 56 of the Stupas. Most of the designs come from the descriptions in the terma, while others are based on the rock inscriptions which were partially destroyed during the cultural revolution.

Fortunately, more recently they have found a supplier in China, in Chengdu, a Tibetan who has a lot of experience and skill in the traditional way of making metal statues and has started to produce the Stupas. At his workshop he makes the prototype in metal starting from the 3D design and prepares a wax model. The molten copper alloy is then cast inside the wax model. Finally the model is chiselled, polished and finished. The entire process is similar to that of making hollow statues. 

Up to now Migmar and Dynamic Space have six finished Stupas in wood and eight in copper. Of the eight copper models, five are copies of the Stupas in wood and three are new models. They have sent eight new designs to Chengdu to be made in copper alloy which will be gold plated afterwards. All the Stupas are around 60 cm in height. 

To fill the hollow Stupas once they are finished, they will be preparing tiny tsa tsa [votive offerings] made from different types of earth mixed with 25 precious ingredients. Each Stupa will contain 25 tiny tsa tsa and different printed mantras as well as earth from the highest holy mountain, wood from the deepest forest and water and sand from the biggest river. Each Stupa has a different main Mantra, followed by ”normal” mantras that are contained in all the other Stupas. Other objects to be placed inside the Stupas include objects that have been touched by or belonged to powerful people, khatag [ceremonial scarves] from His Holiness, His Holiness Sakya Gongma Rinpoche and Penor Rinpoche, relics of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and many famous Masters as well as some earth from around St. Peter’s cathedral.

Each of the eight Stupas that have already been prepared will go to one of the Gars. These small Stupas can be placed inside the house or Gönpa or in the garden. The next Stupas will go to the Lings, and the others will gradually be sent to distant places. 

For the authentication all the components to fill the Stupas will be prepared and the practice of the five elements should be done. Then possibly a qualified Master may carry out the authentication.

When the Stupas are being placed, practitioners should do the sa lang ས་བླང་ practice, which means asking permission to take the earth. It’s a short practice, or otherwise they can do the sang and serkyem offering. Then they should do the སྦྱོང་ byong or purification of the place with the sang and serkyem offering. Finally བརྟག་ tag means analysis: how to position the Stupas according to sa chad or geomancy. 

This important project, initiated by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, needs the collaboration and support of all of us in order to reach completion. Up to now the creation of each of the Stupas – precise hand drawing, 3D design, manufacture, transport – has cost around 3500 euro and with all the materials to fill them from 6000 to 10,000 euro. Some of the Stupas still to be created are more intricate in their design and will be more expensive.

To see more details about this project, its costs and how to donate to individual Stupas, please visit the website:

 https://108-Stupa.dynamicelements.org/en

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