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The Jade Buddha was in town today, on its last few legs of its world tour. Once it completes its tour through Europe, it’ll be going to Australia, where it won’t be touring again. Knowing that many people in the United States probably missed it when it came through, I took some photos today of the opening ceremony.

The Dream

The Jada Buddha is 2.7 meters high and weighs 4 tons. When the large piece of Jade was discovered, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche had a dream that it should be made into a Buddha. That Buddha would tour around the world, leaving imprints of peace and harmony. Soon afterwards, craftsmen and sponsors manifested, and after 5 years, it was completed and Lama Zopa’s dream became a reality. To date, over 5,000,000 people have seen the Jade Buddha.

The Experience

It’s really hard to describe the feeling that comes from this Buddha, but I’ll try to recount some things and let the pictures lead the rest of the way. One of the local political heads was at ceremony, and she looked absolutely delighted and happy. I think many politicians have to appear happy for the public, but she was genuinely glowing. Local police officers were doing security, and it was cute watching these tough guys smiling and clapping their hands. They really enjoyed themselves =D

The Jade Buddha Before The Unveiling

The Jade Buddha was at a local Vietnamese Temple this year, and the Vietnamese have a very tight knit, lay community that really supports its Sangha. Vietnamese from all over Sweden came for the event. Mixed in were Swedes of all ethnicities. During the first few hours, I’d say at least 2000 people were there. Probably more considering that people kept pouring in.

A procession of monks and nuns coming in

Monks and nuns from the Vietnamese, Theravadin, and Tibetan tradition came in a line. They travelled in from all over Sweden, with some senior monks from different parts of Europe.

Monks and Nuns Before the Jade Buddha

To start the opening ceremony, the different traditions chanted sutras in their languages. The Theravadin tradition chanted some sutras in Pali, and Vietnamese tradition chanted the Heart Sutra in Vietnamese. A couple of us from the Dharma center were standing behind, and we chanted the Heart Sutra in English. I don’t think thats common, but the Vietnamese monks wanted everyone to feel included (Especially since most of the Swedes there couldn’t understand the asian languages). I thought it was a very warm gesture.

Tibetan Monks Doing Tantric Chants

I’m not sure if they were Gyumed or Gyuto Tantric College monks. Those who are familiar with this, will remember the low intonations and chants they do, with the full regalia with hats.

Monks Sitting In Front of the Jade Buddha

Some of the senior monks from the different traditions, from all over Sweden and Europe. Even though he’s not in the photo, I recognized one of them as being one of the abbots of a popular monastery in the south of Sweden, called Dai Bhi Tam.

Speech Made to the Crowd

The head of the Vietnamese monastic community in Europe makes a speech during the opening ceremony. He mentioned all the hard work that went into making this possible, with all the sponsors and countless volunteers. He emphasized that the Buddha represents peace and the highest potential a person can develop. When someone makes offerings and prostrations to the Jade Buddha, it should be done with a correct motivation. It’s done out of acknowledging that we want to develop the qualities of a Buddha, and all the rituals are a way of showing respect for our potential.

Balloons for world peace

People around the Jade Buddha were holding bundles of balloons, with photos of Buddhas and prayers on them. They were all released all at once, as a symbol of wanting to spread world peace.

A procession that leads the monks and nuns away from the assembly

People held banners, umbrellas and incense and they led the sangha away at the end of the opening ceremony.

Buddha Ancestor Bodhidharma

Inside the actual temple were some altars. On one was Bodhidharma, the wild man who is credited as bringing Zen Buddhism from India, to China. The Zen traditions from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam all acknowledge Bodhidharma, the red-haired and bearded wild man, as one of original patriarchs.

Bodhisattva Ksistigarbha

Ksistigarba was also an altar that people were offering incense, prostrating, and making prayers to. He’s known for making the vow not to attain enlightenment until the hell realms have been emptied of suffering beings. He’s known for his staff, that he uses to pry open the gates of hell. His left hand holds a wish fulfilling jewel.

Amitabha Buddha?

This is a one of three 15-20 foot statues in the main assembly hall. I believe it’s Amitabha, but am not sure. Vietnamese temples often have statues of 3 Buddhas to represent all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. Amitabha Buddha (past Buddha), Shakyamuni Buddha (present), and Maitreya Buddha (future).

One last look at the Jade Buddha

Beautiful, isn’t he? The Jade Buddha was also in Oslo, 1 week after the bombing and shooting tragedy. I thought it was an appropriate way to help the healing process.

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