This year, commemorating Vesak Day – also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and Buddha Day, the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, who is more commonly known as Buddha hit different and anew as I had the privilege to celebrate it with people of all walks of life at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion at Bendigo in central Victoria, Australia.
Before I share my experience during my visit to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, do you know that a stupa (also known as a pagoda) is the most sacred building in Buddhism as it symbolizes the enlightened mind and the path to enlightenment? At the same time, a stupa serves as a reliquary to house holy relics of Buddha and other highly realized beings.
That said, it was an eye-opening experience and a journey of enlightenment for me as I had the opportunity to visit the Great Stupa on Vesak Day during my stay in Melbourne.
The concept to build the Great Stupa in Bendigo was the vision of Venerable Lama Thubten Yeshe, while the idea to base the design of the stupa on the 600 years old Great Stupa of Gyantse (Kumbum, Tibet) was on the vision given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Both Lama Yeshe and Lama Zope were the founders of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition.
Do you also know that the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is the largest stupa in the Western World? Its base is 50 meters square, and it is nearly 50 meters high!
During my visit, I came to understand the purposes of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion which are to inspire people to seek a peaceful and spiritual path, to be a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from around the world, to be a refuge of peace and serenity to those who seek it, to teach and explain the ways of Buddhism and to reach out and serve the people.
With this knowledge, and understanding, and through my journey of self-realization, I am revitalized with vigor and motivated to help those who want to realize and understand the nature of Who We Truly Are to reach their true and higher potential.
Meanwhile, at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, I had the opportunity to also turn the Prayer Wheels, signifying the purification of all negative energies and cultivating light of merits, wisdom, love, and compassion – something the world and we need in this current time.