Garden of 1,000 Buddhas: a place of peace and quiet reflection
JOCKO VALLEY — White Coyote Road lies just a few miles north of Arlee on U.S. Highway 93. A short stretch of pavement much like any other in the valley, you could pass it at speed and never know it was there.
However, unlike other roads in the valley, White Coyote Road contains a beacon of peace and quiet reflection, a garden which cultivates the human soul rather than tomatoes and carrots. Less than a quarter mile down White Coyote Road sits an embassy of the East in the EWAM Garden of 1,000 Buddhas, and Sunday marked its consecration by Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. He and several of his followers met at the garden to celebrate 11 long years of hard work and dedication to create a place whose merit, “will be immeasurable such that it will infuse the wind with blessings that will be carried to lands far and wide.”
The atmosphere was one of peace and tranquility as several Buddhist monks prepared the grounds for the ceremony. Dressed in flowing orange and burgundy robes, Rinpoche led the procession around the garden with several of his followers from far and wide. After a few short prayers and a dance to commemorate the occasion, he posed for pictures and smiled while looking out over a decade's worth of hard work.
“I’m very happy,” Rinpoche said. “This is the realization of the vision I had many years ago. This is cause for celebration. My hope for the future is to have this place become a catalyst for a feeling of brotherhood, happiness, peace and harmony among all sentient beings in the universe.”
Buddhists of all backgrounds, races, and socio-economic levels traveled from around the Northwest to aid in the occasion. Basia Turzanski of Boulder, Colo., cried tears of joy when asked what the completion of the garden meant to her.
“It means a lot,” she said. “I feel a very heartfelt connection with this project.”
Turzanski explained the 1,000 stupas (statues) surrounding the garden represent the enlightened mind and the enlightened mind inherent in all beings. According to Buddhist teachings, we all have an enlightened mind, it’s simply covered by the complexitites of daily life. The practice of Buddhism is uncovering all of that to attain enlightenment and uncover one’s basic nature through the vehicle which is meditation.
“That basic nature is totally compassionate to all beings, tremendously clear,” Tarzanski said. “This garden is not just for a small group of students. This garden is for all beings all over the world.”
In all, Turzanski has volunteered more than four and a half weeks of her time helping to work on various aspects of the garden.
Supporters came from the valley as well. Windmill Village owner Nancy Martin first received some Buddhist texts at the age of 18, and by the time she was 20 she’d decided it was the one spiritual path that spoke to her the most.
She helped the project along by offering to do some fundraising and building several statues.
“It feels phenomenal. I moved here 12 years ago and I remember thinking, ‘How can anything this big be completed?’ Seeing it now is ... rewarding isn’t the right word. Fulfilling, magical. It’s amazing what people can accomplish,” Martin said.
And even though on paper the EWAM Garden of 1,000 Buddhas is complete, Rinpoche told several followers earlier on Sunday, “When you think this garden is completed, that is when the true work will begin.”