By Lauren Wong
I pray to find the strength to start my life in this new beautiful state, and the comfort in knowing I can do this. I pray that no matter how many miles sit between me, my family, and the friends I grew up with, they know how dearly I love them. I need them to know they shaped me into who I am today. To all my loved ones who have passed, I pray you see me, once a shy young girl, now across the country alone, coming here not knowing a single soul. I pray you’re proud.
Putting the ink black pen back in place, I slowly backed away from the little chestnut-colored brown post holding this binder filled with pages and pages of prayer. All of us have come together in this spiritual place, no matter what religion, if any, you fall under. I took a deep breath and gently closed my eyes as I took in how much has happened in my life this past month alone.
Surrounded by Sedona’s breathtaking beauty, I opened my eyes and allowed myself to get lost in a moment of taking it all in. I left snowy Chicago when I went to school in Florida, had gone back home and now, it’s officially been a year since I got that college diploma. Everything up until this point was school, and then it was time to create my life. I took a leap of faith, and now I am here.
As scary as it can be, as lonely as it can feel at times while I try to meet as many people as I can, Amitabha Stupa Peace Park brought me that tiny glimpse of clarity. I am supposed to be here. And no matter how low the lows can get, I do have the strength. This is truly only the beginning.
They say that Sedona has this magical, spiritual aura about it. From the vortexes that inhabit it to it’s stunning, practically untouched beauty, it’s a place people go to heal. Being surrounded by towering red rocks that date back three million years is enough to humble you in the reality of how small we really are in the vast universe.
Walking in, the first thing I noticed was the sun, how it glistened so gracefully through the Tibetan prayer flags that gently swayed from every tree in sight. Vibrant in color, these rectangular cloths lead up to the top of the stupa and wind their way through every twist and turn along the park’s trails. Four prayer wheels, brassy in color, but golden in the sun, slowly turn their way in a clockwise direction, depicting how in life, moving forward is the only option.
What is the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park?
Located in Sedona and sitting on 14-acres of land at the base of Thunder Mountain, natives have deemed this place sacred. It’s a place welcome to all those visiting with the intention of seeking spiritual transformation and healing. Stupas can be found all around the world, each beginning with a vision and inspiration from an authentic spiritual master. In this case, it was started with Her Eminence Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo Rinpoche’s Vision of Peace. Her intention with the stupa was to ease the suffering of the world as it is the light to “troubled and turbulent times.”
Standing 36 feet tall, the stupa is named after Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light. If you look closely you’ll see him settled within the faceplate of the stupa. Holding millions of prayers for peace, sacred relics, and ritual offerings, it stands tall with blessings for all.
The female Buddha, White Tara, represents a long life filled with compassion. She graces the six-foot White Tara stupa dedicated to the long life of Venerable Gyaltrul Rinpoche.
How do you use a stupa?
What are you coming here looking for? Are you seeking clarity or forgiveness? Are you grieving, or praying for a loved one? Are you just needing a break from the stresses of everyday life, or looking to revive that sense of hope and purpose in your heart? Your first step is determining your intentions. Pick a mantra to repeat, this helps keep your mind from wandering and staying present in the moment.
Walk clockwise around the stupa and release your thoughts, worries, and prayers. Free them from your mind by having faith that a higher power is listening. Allow yourself to alleviate some of that burden you’ve been carrying. Walk around the stupa at least three times, or if you’d prefer, simply sit in front of the stupa while you generate your thoughts. Once you’re done, dedicate the merit.
The Medicine Wheel
Representing the Circle of Life, the Medicine Wheel focuses on the number four.
- The four directions; East, South, West, North
- The stages of life; birth, young adult, elder, death
- The seasons of the year; Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall
- The aspects of life; spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
- The elements of nature; fire (or sun), air, water, earth
Also known as the Sacred Hoop, the Medicine Wheel has been used by generations of many Native American Tribes. They believe that this circle manifests all these aspects of not just yourself, but also nature. You can walk the wheel in a clockwise direction just as the stupa to ground yourself in search of peace.
In walking clockwise, you’re not only following the “sun-wise” direction, but you’re also following the path of life. In something as simple as which way you’re walking, you are deliberately displaying the importance of moving forward. You’re following the hands of the clock, as you walk the Circle of Life. There’s no jumping from one side of the circle to the other, there’s no turning back to retrace your steps, you’re simply moving forward.
No matter what you believe in, the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is open to anyone. Nestled in Sedona, it’s waiting with open arms for you to come, find some peace in this universe, and send you back on your way with an uplifted spirit and open heart for what this life has in store for you.