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Last updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2002
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Pure Vision Editorial

Introduction

This editorial from Pure Vision contains both news of the activities of the Sakya Centre in Melbourne and comments on the debate over the Maitreya Statue Project outlining the main issues as the editor, Di Cousens, sees them.

Editorial

Pure Vision, Vol.2, No.1, April 2000

The past few months in Melbourne have been particularly enjoyable. Our last issue of Pure Vision was very well received and sparked a lot of interest. In November Lama Loppon conducted a weekend preliminary practice retreat at the Atisha Centre, and in early January we had the rare good fortune of a visit by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Simultaneously we have conducted fortnightly pujas, of Tara and Guru Rinpoche, in line with the Tibetan calendar. For me this is particularly satisfying, as when I returned from many years in India at the end of the 1980s I found very little Dharma activity in Melbourne that was of personal interest. While there were Tibetan centres, I found it more meaningful to engage in small pujas at my house with a few friends who were also H.H. Dilgo Khyentse students. Annually I would trek up to Sydney or Vajradhara Gonpa in Kyogle to hear Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche teach, and one simply accepted the reality that teachings were rare and hard to obtain. In establishing Sakya Choekhor Lhunpo, H.H. Sakya Trizin made the point that unless one is able to connect with teachers and traditions with which one has a karmic link, one is unable to connect with the Dharma. One of the functions of our centre which is a nomadic association of friends, not a building is to create opportunities for such connections to be made.

One of the advantages of living in India was the chance to make a regular pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, the place where the Buddha was enlightened. I have many valued memories of circumambulating the stupa, staying in monasteries, and attending ceremonies and teachings. Since the 1980s Bodhgaya has become better known, and its ancient atmosphere is threatened. In this issue, Peter Kedge, Director of the Maitreya Project, replies to the concerns raised in our last issue about the proposed building of a US$150,000,000 (Aus$220,000,000) 500 foot bronze Buddha statue there. There has been surprisingly little discussion of this proposal in the Buddhist press, but if a 500 foot bronze statue of Jesus was being proposed by one group of Protestants for the city of Jerusalem, I imagine all Christians, Jews and Muslims would have a view. Big issues like these need open discussion, because in the long term, all Buddhists will be affected. It seems to me that the bodhi tree itself, a descendant of the original tree under which the Buddha was enlightened, and the ancient Mahabodhi stupa, built at least 1500 years ago, need no enhancement. The project envisages a park that includes pools, fountains, lawns and beautiful flowers. Bodhgaya is dry nine months of the year, with day time temperatures ranging between 25 degrees C and 45 degrees C. There is no rain, and the town drinking water supply is only available between three and four hours a day. In this environment, such an extravagant use of water seems incongruous.

This year we greeted the dawn of the Year 2000 with other Buddhists from temples in Victoria, and in the Tibetan calendar we have now entered the Iron Dragon Year. May the coming year be auspicious for all.

Di Cousens Editor,

Pure Vision Director, Sakya Choekhor Lhunpo

[reprinted with the permission of the Editor Pure Vision]

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.