The Padmasambhava Stupa was the first stupa built in Colorado.
In 1982, Jim George, a close friend of Maurice & Hanne Strong, bought a parcel of land at the end of CareFree Way. He pondered what to do with it; how might it benefit the valley spiritually? He asked the leader of the Nyingma tradition, the Ven Dudjom Rinpoche, who replied, “Build a stupa.” The Ven. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of Tibet’s highest lamas, chose the actual spot on which to build.
Hanne asked Lama Ugyen Shenpen and Paul Kloppenburg to come to help initiate the project. Paul had the diagram for the precise dimensions of what would be an eleven-foot-tall stupa. Bobbie Troutman and Michael Barron supervised the foundation pour and built all the concrete forms of the stupa structure. The thirteen-ringed spire was made on a large potter wheel by Bertha Gotterup and then kiln-fired.
Lama Ugyen Shenpen was instrumental in arranging the interior. As with all stupas, an obelisk-shaped post made from juniper was placed in the center. This so-called ‘Life-Post,’ painted red, was adorned with mantras written in gold on the four sides and further empowered with special relics gathered from Tibet & India. As well as 10,000 clay tsa tsa’s (miniature stupa’s) were handmade with clay in brass molds then sun-dried, painted and placed inside surrounding the post.The stupa was completed in 1982.
The stupa endured considerable neglect over the following twenty years. In 2002 Paul was inspired not only to make serious repairs, but also to transform the ‘Little Stupa’ into a memorial for one of Tibet’s most important historical figures, Padmasambhava, an extraordinarily powerful Indian pandita who came to Tibet in the seventh century to establish Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche, as he is also known, is a fitting subject for a stupa celebrating the birth of Vajrayana Buddhism in the contemporary western world.
A beautiful golden Gau, or portico, was commissioned. It was first sculpted in clay by artist Barbara Falconer and then incorporated into a concrete-poured niche with a gold leafed front. Facing out is a beautiful bronze cast statue of Padmasambhava, empowered with precious relics of prominent Tibetan lamas and yogins, some hundreds of years old.
Gradual improvements have also been made since then in the surrounding mandala rock garden and flower beds. With a crucial donation of the immediate surrounding land – made by Ms. A. Henderson to the Karmapa lineage – the Padmasambhava Stupa has a stable home and ongoing care. It can be viewed daily.