Installation of the Vajradhara thangka in The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

Sometime in the late 1970s, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche commissioned his close friend, the renowned Tibetan artist Sherab Palden Beru, to paint a Vajradhara thangka for the main shrine of Dorje Dzong.

To understand the significants of this thangka, please see Clarke Warren's article: The Karmapa’s Golden Handprints.


We want to let you all know that the installation of the Vajradhara thangka in the Stupa went very well. It is up and absolutely beautiful and magical and perfect in that space!! It almost felt like the Buddha smiled.

Once we got up to SMC, it took Bob and I and Joshua and our dear friend Patrick late into Friday evening {December 3), all of Saturday {December 4), and into the night and Sunday morning to prepare the thangka and the insulated wall insert for the clerestory window above the main entrance where the thangka would be hung. We sewed a fine cotton cloth to the top of the back of the thangka, to protect it from touching any surface, and it unfurled beautifully as the thangka was unrolled during raising, which happened on Sunday around 1 p.m {December 5). It went up so smoothly. It had been skillfully repaired and prepared for transport by our sangha art conservator, Ann Shaftel and her Boulder Shambhala Center assistants. She gave us excellent guidance for our preparations at the stupa for protection from light, temperature changes, and contact with detrimental materials.

We installed an offering shelf above the door and at the foot of the thangka, which makes a very nice division between the two, and upon which we placed two lovely potted flowers, battery operated tealights and a rupa of the Dharmachakra, the Wheel of Dharma.

Our time doing this together was a real gift. It was wonderful and essential to have Patrick with us, and it was also an exceptional time for Bob and Joshua and I to be able to have this simple, quiet, gentle loving time working together again in the stupa, and with this thangka. It was like a beautiful dance, how we thought things out, made decisions and executed each move together…very natural, graceful and peaceful. It was a very special time.

On Sunday, December 5, at 2 p.m. we did the lhasang with offerings and also with music, which was led by Greg Smith; cymbals, horn and drums, which further aroused the potency and blessings of this precious event. We were on the circumambulation path in front of the main entrance, with a small but perfect group of people. Makpon Jesse Grimes was auspiciously present with other kasung, as he was presenting to the SMC community and the kasung that weekend. Shastri Holly Gayley was teaching a meditation course to new meditators, so she and some of her students and MIs were able to attend. Adana Barbieri and several SMC staff of course were there. There were a couple of young ladies from Fort Collins who just stopped up to visit the stupa. They felt profoundly moved and a very heartfelt connection. Rachel Homer came up from Boulder. She stood as the representative of everybody else! It was good.

After circumambulating while chanting Ki Ki So So….we all entered the stupa and sat down in rows facing each other, with the Buddha to one side and Vajradhara on the other, the ashe on the floor in between. No one’s back was to Vajradhara and the space felt very good this way, more open and direct. We did the Great Vajradhara lineage chant slowly with potency, and sat for awhile. Then we all just smiled and hugged and felt awe together.

It feels really really good! It’s a wonderful change for the Stupa, magnificent actually, and it feels very natural.

Below is a link to a little film that Greg Smith made of this event. And a reminder that though you see the thangka is embraced by windows on either side, it is completely protected from the window and the wall with two different types of insulation. It worked out nicely to have adequate protection and still natural light from that wall. It does not feel dark in there. It feels just right.

Lindy is a long time devoted student of the Vidyadhara. She, along with her husband Bob King, have contributed greatly to the Vidyadhara's legacy.