The Buddha Amitabha
The Buddha was created by Chkdud Tulki Rinpoche, during a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat in 1983, with many teachings, chanting and ceremony within a rhythm of life. He taught in the Dharma Yurt, a 30-foot round structure at the bottom of the meadow. There were about 30 people participating.
There was a wooden shed that had been a camper shell sitting near the well, our tool shed at the time. The Rinpoche worked inside the shed making the head, hands and feet, while the community built the base and the lotus seat.
The wind came up while we were pressing the lotus petal form into the sand to make a mold for the rest of the petals, but the sand blew away. We got clay from the pottery and pressed the form into deep slabs of clay to form the petals. The wind increased and blew 65 miles an hour. Two yurts blew down and one tipi. Pottery rolled down the hill from the pottery shed that was under the Teaching Tree at the time. Plan for the community blew away, and Rinpoche said, “Don’t think, work.”
One night the Dharma Yurt was shaking so hard that people, including the Rinpoche, stood around the inside holding the top down through the night. The next morning I brought ropes from Santa Paula to tie it down.
The ceremony continued as we gathered jewels, gold and silver jewelry, precious stones and an iridescent pot made by Beatrice Wood to put treasures in. This pot is buried in the lotus seat. We continued building the body of the Buddha, adding saffron soaked spine – the Rinpoche sculpting the body, adding the feet, hands and head. When the cement structure was complete, there was a double rainbow from behind the Topas across the valley to Sulphur Mountain. We were sitting on the deck that had been a yurt, and the Rinpoche said, “Now everything is new.”
The Buddha was painted bright red for the energy of life and the eyes were opened and the crystal placed on the top of the knot. We performed many circumambulations while singing songs about the pure land and how this world could become that. We could live in this beautiful world with our eyes opened to see the pathways bejeweled and the people could live as interconnected beings with no separation.
Later the Buddha was painted dark tan by a woman named Chitra, who built the Aura behind the Buddha. Then it was painted pure white, and then painted again by Lucia Vinograd, as it is now.
Contribution by Lola Rae Long from the booklet Human Creations at The Ojai Foundation Land Sanctuary.