Moving Into Phase Three of Temple Construction

Positioning one of the four door-frames.

This past year was a most significant year of accomplishments at Lotus Garden.

Work on the temple proceeded rapidly, with the exterior work on the temple, especially the roof and stone facing, nearly finished. The interior infrastructure – electrical, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing – were completed and both the elevator and fire suppression system were installed. As we write this letter, construction staff are working quickly to put up drywall and lighting fixtures. These achievements mark the successful completion of Stage Two of the temple construction plan.

Notably, this summer we welcomed the arrival of three large statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Terdag Lingpa for the temple’s main shrine, which were shipped together from India with four magnificently carved and painted door frames.

The door frames were installed at each of the temple’s four main entrances by a team of monks, Lotus Garden residents and temple workers led by Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche.  The arrival of the statues and door frames had the effect of beginning to transform a shell of a building into the seat of the Mindrolling lineage in the West.

We now embark upon Phase Three of the construction plan, which involves adorning the temple with exquisite, inspiring artwork and decorations. The shrine itself, which will hold the three large statues as well as texts, will be made entirely of wood and spans the entire western wall of the temple from floor to ceiling. A hand-carved “roof” and frames for the shrine are currently being crafted by skilled woodworkers.

The “roof” or top of the shrine is carved entirely from a special teak wood imported from Malaysia and will cap the entire shrine. This wood must be carved in the winter in order that it season properly before finishes of varnish, gold paint and gold leaf are applied by hand. The pictures below show how massive the shrine and its frame are, and how detailed and painstaking this craftsmanship is.

Artwork for the walls, pillars and beams has also begun by specialized artisans in India. Murals for the interior temple walls are being painted now by highly skilled artists and are breathtakingly beautiful and enormous.

Once carved, painted and installed, the adornments on the pillars and beams will add even more grandeur to the temple.  As you can imagine, artisans who specialize in this work are rare these days, highly sought after, and the materials they use are expensive.

This detailed art and finish work are a vital means to convey the beauty and splendor of the Dharma. Because such artwork often communicates in ways that words cannot, it is incumbent upon us to offer the very best, the most exquisite and excellent artwork that we can, both for the present and for future generations.

The vision that Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche had over a decade ago – to establish a seat in the west for the authentic transmission, study and practice of the Buddhadharma – is rapidly coming to fruition. It has come about because sangha members in that same vision are committed to seeing that vision come into being. Now, with the addition of each new interior feature – every statue, every thangka, every offering bowl, even the walls, pillars and floorboards themselves – others can be inspired to discover the Dharma here in the West. The presence of this new temple in the Virginia foothills, what is held within it, and what it represents, will help to spread the Buddhadharma in these and future times. There is no more valuable undertaking than this.

Due to the generous support of the Lotus Garden sangha, every previous stage of temple construction has been completed without incurring any debt–an extraordinary achievement. The goal of Phase 3 is to raise $350,000 to complete artwork for the shrine, doors, pillars, beams, walls and floors and allow the work to continue uninterruptedly losing the artisans to other projects. Additionally, interior walls are being painted, shrine construction is continuing. Drilling for a new well was a complete success.

All are urged to join in this extraordinary endeavor. Each donation to Lotus Garden is tax-deductible. Thank you.

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