Sedona, Arizona is known for its natural beauty and the “soul” of the landscape, so it makes sense that a lovely Buddhist stupa would make a home there.
Stupa, the Sanskrit word for heap, is a prominent and ancient type of sacred Buddhist architecture that predates Buddhism itself.
These sepulchers are for burying spiritual artifacts, often in a simple mound dressed with a few stones, but sometimes with more elaborate statues above them.
Three main functions of a stupa include a place of holding offerings, a memorial to the Buddha’s life, or a reliquary that holds Buddha’s ashes or Dharmic symbols.
I found this article with an abundance of useful information on the purpose, traditions, and history around stupas.
The Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park is located in western Sedona at 2650 Pueblo Drive, at the foothills of Thunder Mountain. You can find many clear views of Sedona’s dazzling red rocks from the park.
Amitabha Stupa is the only stupa in the state of Arizona, and one of only a few in the United States.
This site is intended to be a peaceful destination for prayer and meditation, though there are multiple hiking trails and serene spots to relax. Visitors from all walks of life, beliefs, and religions, are welcome here.
It is privately-owned, managed and maintained only by volunteers, and supported by donations.
These volunteers offer free guided walks to share “The Inside Story of the Amitabha Stupa” to groups of six or more, booked in advance, and this gives them the opportunity to explain why stupas are so highly revered in Buddhism.
Amitabha Stupa was created in 2004 by students of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, who operates under the guidance of Penor Rinpoche, and Lhamo’s organization Kunzang Palyul Choling (“KPC”) for Tibetan Buddhism in the Vajrayana Tradition.
The KPC motto is “may all sentient beings be free from suffering” and they have two other stupas in Maryland and Australia.
Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo is the first American-born tulku, as well as the first female tulku. You can learn more about her here and find links to some of her various teachings, books, music, and podcast episodes here.
At the Amitabha Stupa, you will find a massive Shakyamuni Buddha head and an authentic Native American Medicine Wheel, a 36-feet tall Amitabha Stupa, and a smaller Tara stupa below.
Amitabha means “measurable light” in Sanskrit, and he is known as the main Buddha of “Pure Land Buddhism, and for his longevity, discernment, pure perception, purification, and a deep awareness of all phenomena, among other traits in Vajrayana Buddhism.
Tara, the Sanskrit word for star, is the most powerful female of the Buddhist pantheon. In Vajrayana Buddhism, she is known as the female counterpart to Amitabha and/or Buddha, the supreme savior and goddess of mercy.
If you plan to visit the Amitabha Stupa in person, the grounds are open every day from dawn to dusk. Visiting is free, but donations are appreciated.
There is a port-a-potty onsite, but there no picnic tables, as this is intended as a place of serenity and meditation versus recreation. Leashed pets are welcome but owners must clean up after them, and they must not interrupt the peacefulness of the site.
Visitors are asked to leave no trace, not even trinkets or decorations, with the exception of donations in proper locations by the stupas, and of prayer flags.
Visit the Amitabha Stupa Facebook page to keep up with daily events and news.
In the area for a while? Follow me to check out the rest of Sedona (in progress).
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