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Construction of the First Stupa in Colombia: to bring peace and harmony to the region.
41 backers pledged $3,160 to help bring this project to life.

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The first stupa in Colombia

Under the guidance of Buddhist teacher Lama Oleg Sonam Dorje we are currently building the first stupa (Buddhist sacred monument) in Colombia. The intention behind this project is to bring peace and harmony to the region.  

What is a stupa?

Stupa is a sacred Buddhist monument that promotes inner peace and meditation. Originating in pre-Buddhist era in the region of the Himalayas, stupas are hemispherical shaped structures representing the Buddha sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. From the Buddhist perspective, stupas symbolize the essence of the enlightened mind. Inside are placed relics, jewelry and sacred objects. Its dimensions are based on the same sacred geometry used in Tibetan paintings (thangkas). The stupa to be built in Colombia is the stupa of enlightenment or knowledge, also known as The Conquest of Mara.

Why build a stupa?

If its dimensions are impeccable, it can offer healing, strength and understanding to all who come in contact with it, regardless of religion, race or culture. A stupa has the same energetic qualities of a pyramid. Additionally, the stupas represent and contain the five elements of nature (space, air, water, fire and earth), and it is believed that, their presence can bring harmony to the natural environment. In a cosmological sense, it is thought that all stupas form a kind of energy networks that balance and harmonize the planet.

Where will it be built?

The Stupa will be built  in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Located in northern Colombia, bordering the Caribbean Sea.  The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal mountain formation in the world (includes all climatic zones from 0 to the 5.775msnm). With its snowy peaks, pristine beaches and nature reserves, it is one of the most important natural places in the world. The descendants of the Tayrona people; the Kogi, the Arhuaco, the Wiwa and Kankuamos, are the 4 indigenous groups living in the area. For them, La Sierra Nevada is the heart of the world, and the land where the Stupa will be built, is sacred. A Kogi Mamo has already blessed and given permission to build a Stupa on this auspicious site. 

Buddhism and Indigenous worldview 

Building a stupa in this indigenous sacred ground symbolizes the union between two powerful spiritual traditions: Buddhist philosophy and the indigenous worldview of the Sierra Nevada. Both traditions believe in mindful awareness and compassion as a path to happiness and freedom. The lifestyle of the Kogi is based on the belief that Mother Earth is the force of nature that provides guidance. The members of this indigenous group think of the earth as a living being. They prepare their priests (Mamos) in the spiritual world they call Aluna, in order for them to help the Great Mother protect the land and maintain balance and harmony worldwide. Buddhism is a philosophical and spiritual doctrine founded in India around the 5th century BC by Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha. It emphasizes the development of compassion and wisdom (the perception of reality). According to the indigenous of La Sierra, building a stupa is a form of “pagamento” (offering) that can help bring balance to nature and the beings that inhabit it. Objects belonging to the indigenous tribes and relics from Himalayas will be placed inside the stupa as part of the "pagamento" to the Earth. 

 Who is Lama Oleg Sonam Dorje?

Lama Oleg is the first Russian Lama who has successfully passed all the stages of the practical and theoretical education in Tibetan tradition, having spent 17 years in Nepal, Tibet and India. Lama completed 2 strict traditional meditation retreats amounting to more than 7 years in most holy places and Parphing retreat center (Guru Padmasambhava’s cave), that earned him recognition of his teachers, who blessed him to spread the Buddha Dharma in Russia, Ukraine and other countries of Eastern Europe. He thus constantaly gives teachings on various topics of meditation and yoga for the last 7 years and running several centers in Russia and Ukraine belonging to Rangjung Yeshe Gomdes, centers affiliated with Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, the largest Buddhist monastery in Nepal, headed by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Chokling Rinpoche. Lama Oleg considers Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, the main abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, Chokling Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche and their late father, great Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche his root gurus. These remarkable Tibetan masters uphold several important lineages of Tibetan Buddhism at once. Main lineage is Chokling Tersar, Nyingma tradition based on terma revelations of 19-century master Chokgyur Lingpa, that is nowadays is one of the most practiced Nyingma lineages in the world. The other two are Karma Kagyu and Barom Kagyu, the latter one being a family lineage that is passed through successive generations of Barom Dharma Wangchuk, illustrious disciple of Gambopa, student of great Tibetan Yogi Milarepa. Moreover, Lama Oleg considers Dzogchen, Great Perfection his heart practice and often emphasizes it during his teachings.

Inspired by his commitment and connection to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and his connection to Colombian friends, he will  lead the construction of the first stupa in Colombia. 

 Why and how to participate in the construction of the stupa?

Participating in building a stupa is considered a virtuous activity. The more people are involved in its creation, the greater the benefits for all beings on the planet. One of the most important elements of a Stupa, is "The Tree of Life", a wooden structure covered with gems and thousands of mantras (prayers). This is the central channel of the structure, and it is placed inside the Stupa during an initiation ceremony. At this time all participants visualize their most positive and altruistic dreams,  then the Stupa is “charged”, and begins to function. 

Cost of building the Stupa?

The construction of the stupa costs approximately USD $ 6,000. This budget includes building materials, local workers, architects, consultants, artisans, transportation of materials, relics, offerings and maintenance of stupa, among other things. Some members of the Buddhist community in Russia and Ukraine, already made a donation of $ 3,000 for the construction of this stupa. Our intention is to encourage friends and communities around the world to participate in this project by making a contribution, (small or large) in order to complete the remaining USD $ 3,000 needed to finish the construction.

 If you are interested in participating, you can contact; Ana Maria Velasco: asanart@yahoo.com  

Risks and challenges

Violent conflict, security issues, and extreme weather conditions may delay the actual building of the stupa.

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    Mala beads made by Lulu Mala

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    Hand made Mochila (woven bag) made by Kogi and Arhuaco women.

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    Painting of Buddha.
    Traditional Tibetan Art (Ink on paper) by Ana Maria Velasco

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Funding period

- (14 days)