An extremely important element in every stupa is the Tree of Life, a special wooden pole that forms the central core of the stupa’s structure.
The tree to be used for the Tree of Life must be found, blessed and felled, then planed and sealed before it is painted and covered with thousands of mantras in gold paint. It is then consecrated by the monks together with other items to be placed in the stupa in an elaborate tantric ritual ceremony. Only then is it ready to be positioned within the stupa structure at its very centre.
The search for the tree takes place in the immediate local area. It must be straight, at least 6.5m high, about 16cms in diameter, non-toxic and long lasting. Traditionally the tree might be sandalwood, juniper, olive or camphor.
The camphor laurel, prolific in the Byron Shire, is often regarded as undesirable as it tends to overtake native rainforest species. However the camphor tree is not bad in and of itself. Camphor has been used for cooking, in incense and in religious ceremonies for centuries. Camphor chests have been used for storing precious fabrics especially in Asia and are common in many households around the globe. And for the Tree of Life at the centre of our Kalachakra World Peace Stupa, the much-maligned camphor can come into its own. Its long lasting protective scent makes it a tree with ideal properties to bring positive results for its community and the world. What a wonderful lesson in terms of understanding duality and turning a negative into a positive!
And now there is a unique opportunity to join the monks for the first steps in the Tree of Life creation. At dawn on Saturday 21 May as the first rays of the sun strike the tree, the monks will offer a chant for world peace and for the life of the tree as the tree is felled. All are welcome to stay on after the ceremony to enjoy the gardens in the early morning air after a nice hot cup of tea.
The ceremony will be held in the camphor forest approximately 50 metres to the west of Lakshmi the goddess statue. Walk down the café stairs, follow the path left past Ganesh, and go around the right side of Lakshmi.
The Gyuto Monks have offered a preparatory blessing chant above the forest on Sunday May 15.
When: Saturday 21 May 2011
Where: Crystal Castle grounds