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Sravasti Monastics and WSU Students Create Holy Mantras For New Meditation Hall

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Sravasti Monastics and WSU Students Create Holy Mantras For New Meditation Hall

News Story by Mary Feusner | FāVS News

A group of Washington State University students helped create holy mantras, after a day of learning Buddhist practices, that will be sealed inside a Buddha statue for the new meditation hall at the Sravasti Abbey.

Sravasti Abbey is the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery for nuns and monks to be started in the U.S. Venerable Thubten Chodron started the monastery in 2003, on about 300 acres of forest in Newport. The monastery is now home to 23 monastics and four cats.

Through a religion reporting class at WSU nine students and three professors were able to spend the night at the monastery. The students, who arrived around noon on April 6 and departed near 10:30 a.m. on April 7, were able to eat, sleep and meditate alongside the monks and nuns.

“You don’t feel like you are on the outside of them, they don’t see themselves as separate from others,” Elizabeth Stout, a WSU student said about her experience at the monastery.

Learning the Basics of Meditation

While there, the students were introduced to the basics of meditation and had the opportunity to join three separate meditation sessions.

During the first meditation session, taught by Ven. Thubten Chonyi, the students learned a Buddhist mantra, “Om mani padme, hum” which translates to “praise to the jewel and the lotus.”

It was explained to the students that together the jewel and the lotus represent compassion and wisdom and that by reciting the mantra it can help calm the mind.

“In Buddhism the mind is the most important part and only you have control over your mind,” Chonyi said.

Following the meditation, the students received a tour of the monastery from Ven. Thubten Samten. The students got to go inside the current meditation room. It was there that she explained why they were building the new Buddha Hall.

Outgrowing the Old Meditation Hall

According to Samten the current meditation hall is where many of the monastics were ordained. They all have a connection to the space, but have unfortunately outgrown it. With 23 current members and visiting guests, there is just not enough room.

The new Buddha Hall, which the monastics hope will finish during the summer, will be a two-story, 17,000 square foot building. It will consist of a main hall, a Tara room, a Posadha room, a library, multiple gathering rooms and offices.

The center of the roof will be adorned with three Ganjira statues, as well as a Dharma wheel and two deer statues that will rest over the door. The roof ornaments will allow the Buddha Hall to have ties to traditional Tibetan monasteries, Samten explained.

The main hall will house three sculptures that were hand crafted in France by sculptors Peter and Denise Griffin.

According to the Abbey there will be a 10-foot seated statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in the center of the altar. Two smaller statues of Venerable Ananda and Venerable Mahaprajapati, both of whom had close relationships with the Buddha during his lifetime, will be placed on either side.

The Shakyamuni Buddha will have a hollow section going through the center and heart area of the statue. This is where the student-made mantras will go, the monastics said. 

Hand Rolling the Mantras

When it came time to roll the mantras, the students were taken back to the main hall and asked to cleanse their hands. After watching a demonstration of how to begin rolling the mantras, the students sat amongst the monastics and started their own.

The students were rolling two-name mantras, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his teacher, His Holiness Ling Ricpoche, Ven. Tenzin Tsepal said.

The process started by the students breaking off a piece of incense the same width as the mantras. The mantras, which are written in Sanskrit, were typed out on long thin sheets of yellow paper. The students then placed the incense at the edge of the paper and began rolling. As they neared the end of the first paper the students placed a new sheet overtop so they could continue rolling. This went on until there were no more mantra papers left.

Stout explained that when she began rolling the mantras it felt weird at first because she was not a monastic, but she was grateful for the experience.

“A piece of me is going to be in this Buddha Hall forever.”

WSU Student Elizabeth Stout

Samten explained why the students were invited to help roll the mantras.

“We like to share what we do, your group came wanting to learn,” she said.

She went on to talk about how by allowing the students to roll mantras they were able to contribute to a calming activity.

Not only did the activity help the students and the monastics but it will also benefit others who are in the presence of the holy mantras, now and in the future, she explained.

“It would be really exciting to go back and see it, there would be a piece of me, of my work inside this,” Stout said about the Shakyamuni Buddha statue at the Abbey.

Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner is a senior at Washington State University, pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Her passion for history and religions, which began when she was a child, along with a class taught by Tracy Simmons at WSU, led to her initial interest in religion journalism. Beyond writing, Mary has a love for reading and collecting fiction novels. She currently serves as a student ambassador for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at WSU. She is eager to gain experience in journalism and make meaningful contributions to the field. She is excited for the opportunity to learn from the dedicated journalists at FāVS News.

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Connie
Connie
20 days ago

Feat job Mary your religious training prepared you to write a beautiful article,

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