Our guest today on Treasure Mountain is Ian Green, who is Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd and Founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. Along with his wife Judy, he has been a Buddhist for over 40 years and a vegetarian ...
Our guest today on Treasure Mountain is Ian Green, who is Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd and Founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. Along with his wife Judy, he has been a Buddhist for over 40 years and a vegetarian for over 25 years.
Ian’s connection to Buddhism began with a visit to India in 1971. He has had the good fortune to meet many Buddhist teachers including Geshe Loden, Zasep Tulku, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Ayya Khema. In 1979 Ian completed the month long course at Kopan Monastery, in Kathmandu. Ian has continued his studies under many Buddhist masters to this day.
In the 1980 Ian’s father, Ed Green offered 50 acres of land to set up a Buddhist centre near Bendigo. This original 50 acres was later added to with further land from Ian’s mother and himself so that the Buddhist Centre in Bendigo is now 200 acres (85 hectares).
Ian was founding Director of Atisha Centre, he has served as board members of Tara Institute and Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition Inc. He is currently Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd and Founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal peace.
Ian has received various awards for his international work for peace and is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal.
It is the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion that is Ian Green’s Inspired Project that we are going to focus on in this episode, and as you’ll find out in this interview, and what its real meaning and purpose is.
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Thank you for listening to the Treasure Mountain Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode please share it with you friends. If you'd like to support me to produce this type of content in future, you can support my work by offering a tip via the Ko-fi payment applet.
May you be happy!
Robot Generated Transcript - expect errors
Welcome to Treasure Mountain, the podcast that guides and inspires to find the treasure within human experience. Our guest today on Treasure Mountain is Ian Green, who is chairman of the Great Stupor of Universal Compassion and founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, along with his wife, Judy, he's been a Buddhist now for over 40 years and a vegetarian for over 25 years. Ian's connection to Buddhism began with a visit to India in 1971. He has had the good fortune to meet many Buddhist teachers, including Geshi Lodan, Sarcep, Tulku, lama Tubdun, yeshi. Lama zopa ring pushet and ayakayma in 1979, Ian completed the month long course at Copan Monastery in Kathmandu. Ian has continued his studies under many Buddhist masters to this day. In 180. Ian's father, Ed Green, offered over 50 acres of land to set up a Buddhist center near Bendigo. The original 50 acres was later added to with further land from Ian's mother and himself, so that the Buddhist center in Bendigo is now 200 acres. Ian was founding director of the Atisha Center and he has served as board members of the Tara Institute and foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. He is currently chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion and the founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. Ian has received various awards for his international work for peace and is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal. It is the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion that is Ian Green's inspired project that we are going to focus on in this episode and as you'll find out in this interview and what the real meaning and purpose of the Great Stupa really is. So join us as we seek for the treasure within. 7s Welcome to Treasure Mountain, Ian. How are you today?
Oh, very well, Sol, thank you very
much. I really appreciate that you've taken the time to come in and talk to us, and I'm really excited to find out about the great stupa of universal compassion, which I know a little bit about, but I'm hoping to find out much more. I'd like to start first of all, Ian, with let's talk about your personal story and your path into the practice. How did your early life experiences lead you into Buddhist practice?
Well, I think so. From a very young age, I was asking myself the sort of big questions of life like, why are we here and why do so many people suffer? And why some people seem to be born lucky and others seem to be born with all sorts of problems. And I wasn't sure how to find the answers to this. Originally, my parents sent me along to Sunday School. They said, you must go there until you're the age of twelve, and then you can make up your own mind. So I went along there, but I was really not very impressed by what I saw. I saw people acting very sanctimoniously, but in fact, I knew these people from the way they behaved in their normal environment. And so I could see there was a bit of a disconnect between what they were saying and one one level and the way they were actually, actually behaving. So at the age of twelve, I went into my parents bedroom and I said, mom and dad, I've decided I'm not going back to Sunday School. All Christians are hypocrites. Now, this was with the arrogance of a twelve year old who thinks he knows everything. But it was one of the first journeys down a spiritual path that I explored. And it was always trying to find something that made sense to me on a heart level, but also on a head level. And I kept looking from that day on, always trying to find something. So that was the start of the journey. Later on I was to meet many other spiritual guides, particularly Hindu or, or Yogi teachers. And, and I also explored spiritualism for a while and and read many things at the Theosophical Bookshop, which is an institution in Melbourne. But again, I I could never find anything that really made sense to me on the, at the heart and at the head level. So in a way then, I almost gave up on the spiritual search. And after I graduated from university, I then decided that look, I just needed to just start enjoying life. So I then leapt into hedonism headlong. I got a job in advertising, which I loved, and from there I started to explore all sorts of ways of living an exciting life. So I had lots of girlfriends, lots of drinking, lots of long lunches, lots of gambling at poker and so forth. And in a way it was very enjoyable because I really love meeting all these people who are very exciting bunch of people to work with. But somehow or another, the longer it went on, the more disillusioned I became and I could see those around me really suffering as well. And I sort of came to the realization unless I do something about this, I'm going to end up in a very early grave. Because I really felt like I was burning the candle at both ends as the expression goes. So not with much forethought, I decided that I would go to India and maybe I would find some answers there. Now this is a little bit unusual because when you think back on because I'd already met a couple of swamis in Melbourne and explored their teachings and I was impressed by them, but I never really made that connection. But anyway, for some reason or another, a voice inside said I should go to India. So I did. And as soon as I landed in India I realized. That it underlined to me two things. First of all, that Australia was very materialistic because I could see in India there were signs of spirituality everywhere. Every every tree, it seemed, had a little shrine under it. Every every shop did had an altar inside it. Every taxi had a little statue of one of the deities on the dashboard.
So as soon as I landed in India, I realized two things. I realized, first of all, how materialistic Australia was. And secondly, I realized that spirituality was still the thing that was missing from my life. What I mean by that is, every tree that we drove by seemed to have a little altar under it. Every shop you went into had a little shrine to one day or to another. Every taxi you were in had on the dashboard a Hindu deity. So I realized how significant spirituality was to India, or it certainly was in those days, anyway. And it just underlined again and again the thing that was really still lacking in my life. But having said that, somehow or another, I could never connect with the Hindu deities. I thought Ganesh and Hanneman and so forth. Really funky looking, and I love the Tshirts and the posters with them on, but somehow or another, it was not really something that I could personally connect with. Anyway, I continued my journeys in India until towards the end of that visit, where I went to Banaras or Baranasi on the Ganges. And I was there and it was so hot and so smelly and they were all burning bodies on the gaps and just so much noise and so forth. I just felt look, I've got to find some sort of some refuge from this place, maybe a park or something. So I asked him the hotel and they said oh, there's a park nearby I so I caught a taxi there. It was about 10 km away. And when I got there it was a very barren looking place and it seemed to be not much shade, not many people around. Anyway, I said oh, well, I'll go here while I made this trip here. So I went into this park. It was surrounded by a fence. As soon as I went into the park, I had this incredible feeling that I felt like I'd suddenly entered a new reality. Somehow I felt completely peace, peaceful. And a total calm came over me. It's something I'd never experienced before and it felt very strange range. In fact, I even looked around me back at the taxi to see whether maybe the world had changed or something like that. But then I realized it was just I was feeling completely different to any way I'd ever felt before. And I thought I sort of sat down on a rock, as I recall, and just thought, well, I've got what's happening to me. And I looked around for a clue to what might be what have made the difference. Anyway, I saw a sign that I'd walked straight by as I came through the door in the fence, the gate in the fence. And I went back there and I read that this was Sarna, or Deer Park, which is the place where the Buddha first taught. And so I realized that I'd come to a very significant Buddhist pilgrimage place a little bit later. Shortly after that, I came across this enormous big describe it as a bit like a big lump. I couldn't work out whether it was man made or whether it was natural. It was covered with all these little ferns and bushes and so forth. Anyway, I saw a sign that this was the Damag Stupa, which is the stupa built at the sign of the site of the Buddhist teaching, which is what happened at Sinai. And somehow, almost the power of this stupid almost was so strong, almost felt like I was knocking me off my feet. So it was a very profound experience going to that park. And it really completely changed my life. I'd say from that day, with my understanding, you know, later acquired, that I've made that karmic connection with my previous lifetimes as a Buddhist. And by going there, somehow this had reconnected or rekindled that connection. Later on, before I left the park, there was a little shop there, and I went in there. There was a man dozing away on the seat. I'm sure I was his first customer the day. And I bought a little book, what is Buddhism? And on the plane coming back to Australia, I actually flicked the book open and started to read it. And I had quite a very strange feeling that I knew everything that this book was saying, but I've never seen the words before. So it was talking about things like karma and rebirth, the four noble truths, et cetera, et cetera. And suddenly I had this great feeling of affinity, as if I'm completely familiar with this, but I don't remember seeing any of these words written like this. Later on I came back and it was sort of coincidental, I suppose it seemed that way, that when I came back, there was a Buddhist monk. It was a Melbourne doctor who become one of the first monks ordained in the Tibetan tradition, dr. Nick Re. Bush and I went along to I heard him on the radio, actually, initially, and again, I had that same feeling, know exactly what he's talking about, but I haven't heard those words before on that same experience, which I guess in a Western term you might describe as something like deja vu. I kept having that feeling over the first few months as I encountered more and more of the Buddhist teachings. So that's really how I became a Buddhist. I was on a spiritual search. It was taking a long time to try and find out exactly what path I was on, but suddenly when I met it at sign up at this holy pilgrimage place, then the conditions and the causes were right, and it just instantly became a rekindled my connection with
Buddhism. Yeah, I mean, that's really amazing story, because it does sound like a lot of things started to fall into place after you went to Sona. Now, I did want to ask you, who were some of the teachers that inspired you early on? I know. You mentioned Nick Rebus. Were there any other teams that really inspired you in that early stage to get started?
Yes. Well, I very soon discovered Tara House, which was I think Nick was giving a course there or giving a lecture. So I went along there. And then at Tara House they actually had a visiting a teacher come to them, geshe Loden. And Gesheloden had translator who was Zathab Tulku, and the two of them were amazing teachers. And they certainly, along with Nick, were the early teachers. I also met a Tibetan nun at that stage, actually, she was an American, an American from the Bronx, so she spoke with a very American American Jewish accent. And she was the director of Tara House at that stage. So she was also a teacher. And I learned a lot from her, but particularly from Geshe Loden and Tuku in the early stages. Later on, I was to meet Lama. Yeshi. And I guess the thing that really transformed my Buddhist practice as well, because suddenly when I'm, you know, I was very slow to or reluctant, I guess you'd say, to get too deeply involved in Buddhism because I still had a bit of skepticism about me, about various things. And the idea of prostrating didn't come very naturally to me. I remember in the early days, every time I'd get down on my hands and knees, others around me were getting down on my hands and knees. I would find it very difficult to actually get down and prostrate myself because it seemed like I was somehow demeaning to me. But in a way, of course, as I came to realize after a while, that, in a way, was the whole point of prostration is to actually lower yourself and to show that there are others and to acknowledge there are others who know a lot more than you do. And anyway, eventually, I slowly, slowly got involved in the whole process. But really, when Mummy, as she came to Melbourne in 1979, that's when my practice really transformed. And I think when I discovered with him that I certainly had found the path for me, I found a path that made total sense to my head, but also to my heart. And then when I actually met him, I met him a few times on that particular visit, I had the incredible feeling that when I actually looked into his eyes, that he could look straight in, smile, and see everything inside me, good and bad. And it was one of those things that I developed this. It felt a bit like the closest feeling I could have was a bit like falling in love, in a way that I had this incredible connection that that somehow when I looked into Lama's eyes, I could I could see that he completely accepted me and that I was, you know, willing to do anything I could to try and help him in whatever way he wanted.
Well, as I understand it as I understand it, though, lamieshi is going to have a tremendous impact upon your life, but also is going to be instrumental in putting forth the idea of the great Stupa. In fact, he had a vision for starting a small Buddhist village in Australia, and you became involved with that from an early stage. Could you tell us about that? Yes, indeed. I completed in 1979 after meeting here in Melbourne. I then went to Copenhagen. Did the monk on course? And at that particular course, llama said to me, it's very important we find a regional center in Victoria where we can establish a retreat center, but also a place where people can get away from the busyness of Melbourne and the big city energy. So I then started with some others going around everywhere around Victoria, searching for somewhere that met our needs but also our budget. I couldn't find anywhere. One weekend, I was going home to Bendigo, and I said to my dad, look, you've can't find anywhere that's going to be suitable to set up this Buddha Center. My father, Ed, said, well, maybe I can give you 50 acres to begin with. So he'd actually bought 700 acres of land not only 1520 minutes from Bendigo. And he built bought it, I think almost on a bit of a whim because it was a large piece of land. It had a real connection to the sort of area that he was born in and brought up. So maybe there was an emotional connection as well. Anyway, that from his offer of 50 acres. I then contacted Lamb? Yes. She and said, look, my dad's offered this land. Would do you think this would be suitable? Now llama like most of it and llamas actually rely on divination for important decisions such as this. So he asked a couple of high lamas if they could give some divination on whether this land in Bendigo would be appropriate, would be very suitable. So he initially got back some responses from them. It would be of moderate benefit. But of course, llama was never willing to accept the obvious. He was a bit of a radical teacher. So he went out for a second opinion. So he went to some other llamas and said, look, I want to know if this land would be suitable. And from these other llamas divinations, he got back the response that it would be incredibly beneficial. So he then wrote to me, he very enthusiastically and said, yes, we will accept your father's offer. And this is in 1980, and I'll come there when I'm next coming to Australia, around about August 1981. And I'll get a course at Bendigo on the land so that we're the cause for a whole lot of development and a lot of change of career. For me, actually giving up my job, moving to Vendigo with my new partner Judy, and with one or two others as well, to actually set up the course for Lamas, is it? Which was we went there in early 1981. It was to be set up and to be held actually in in August, so it was not very long to do it all. Anyway, the course did come. We were, you know, the paint was barely dry by the time llama arrived. And after he'd been there for a few days, he asked myself and another fellow, Gary folks, to come on a walk with me. And on this walk he described the vision he had for the whole site. So, first of all, we went for a walk along near the Konyin pond that we have there at the moment. And he stopped and he grabbed a stick and drew in the ground, and pointing up to his left, he said, that's where we will build a big stupor. And in that big stupa will be a big Gomper. Gomper is the Tibetan word for a temple, and there'll be a library. And then pointing over to the right, he said, over there will be a lay village and there'll be a hospice, and there will also be other developments around here as well. Then afterwards we walked up to the monastery hill, up to the stupa hill. First of all,
the vegetation was very thick and we had to actually almost peel it back to get through the vegetation to get first of all to the stupor hill. And you could see that there was quite a nicely rounded hill there. We then said, and up here, he said, and he walked off for another oh, it must have been like 600, 700 meters, sort of climbing up to the next hill. And he said, this is where the monastery will be. It will start here. And then he kept walking and walking and walking and walking, and it will go until eventually he said, it will go to here. So that was about four or 500 meters that he walked. And all during that walk I kept thinking, how big is this monastery going to be anyway? It has all come about exactly as he had envisaged. The monastery is on that hill. It's exactly in the dimensions that he laid out. The stupid has been developed on the first hill. I had the distinct feeling as I walked around there with London, the issue that he could see the whole thing in his mind. Now I don't even think. That he'd ever been on those particular pieces of land at all before. No one was aware that he was walking, and no one had ever seen him walking in the bush, so I don't think he had. And yet, somehow or another, as he walked around there, it was if he knew, walked with exact precision, knew exactly where he was going. It was quite a profound experience. Experience.
That's incredible. It also is incredible, because that set off a chain of events that is going to lead to all of these things have come to pass. Is that correct? So we've now got the stupa. If there's a retreat center, there's a monastery of all those things that were talked about by Lama. Yeshi. 40 odd years ago, those things have now come to fruition. Is that correct?
That's basically correct. Certainly the retreat center atisha center has been operating basically from the day Lama came there. So for 42 years. The monastery is complete. It's got rooms for about 24 months. There are currently six monks living there. The Lay village is well into the planning stages, and we expect that to be underway soon. The hospice and the primary school will happen in the future. And we've also started on a nunnery as well, so it's started construction as well. So essentially, that master plan that Llama had in his head and he walked around with us in 1981 has come to fruition, exactly as he said, with a few other things added added in as we've come to develop it. Things that things have gone naturally, that this should be here or that should be there. But basically, we followed Lumi Yoshi's master plan to the exact team. Really?
Well, I have to say, it's one thing to have a plan that's kind of like Einstein said, it's 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. The last 40 odd years. It has been a project that has been, I guess, your baby. You've really focused on it to make it, to bring it to fruition. It must have been surely some tremendous challenges and obstacles along the way. Could you perhaps late, like, what it was like going through that period where there must have been some really difficult patches?
Yes, well, I mean, just existing in those early days was difficult because with my current wife Judy sorry, I'm currently married to Judy, but at that stage we weren't married. But she came with three boys, who in the youngest was three. There were was no electricity, there was no running water on the site, so somehow I had to look after this instant family. There was an old railway carriage there that we converted into, as best we could, into a bit of a home. As I said, there was no running water, so we had to carry the water there. There was no electricity, so at night we could only make things see where we were going by a chilly lamp. So even just existing was difficult. But then around a Taoiseach center was extremely difficult as well, because. There were very few people to help us initially, and those people who came when lama yeshi. Who was there, 81 sort of drifted away one after another afterwards, because there, you know, there wasn't an active teaching program there, so we could understand why they why they would leave us. They'd go to their own homes, and it just left us with a hard core of duty. Myself and Ken Hawter, who was another fellow I'd met at the Copan Course in 1979. So the three of us struggled on, and then one or two other local people came to help us as well. And the first few years atisha center were really just a survival case where we would just try and get the message out. There was a Buddhist center in Bendigo. We would often do a lot of the teaching ourselves because we couldn't get visiting teachers to come financially, it was incredibly difficult as well, so we put a lot of our own savings into actually making it happen at best. As best we could. It took ten years for that, really, to be solid enough for us to hand it over to the first new directors of the whole place. And then it was it was able to stand on its own 2ft. So that that gave me a chance, really, then, to is my way out of it, although I was still very involved for several years more. But then to start thinking about the big project of my life, the main purpose of my life, I think, which is to build the great Stupa. Of course, even at this planning stage, this was very difficult, because the idea of building something like this in the middle of the Australian bush, nowhere near a capital city, not even near in or adjoining a regional city, was quite sort of radical idea, and very few people believe it could ever happen. Most of my friends in Bendigo would say, look, it'll never happen. How could you build something way out there? Even some Buddhist monks would just shake their heads and say, it's just too big to try and build the original. One of them said, Why don't you just make a scale model of it? But somehow, because I had this connection with Lama, yeshi, I had complete devotion to him, so I knew it would always happen. The only thing I didn't know was whether I had the karma to actually be that person to make it happen. And of course, I didn't know when it would happen. I thought maybe it'll happen after I'm gone, but at least. I know it will happen. And I also felt, well, if I can't make it happen, then maybe no one else can. So I'll just have to do my best to make it happen. So initially, I had no idea what was involved in making a multistory high, ten story high building. And it was stressed that this building had to last for a thousand years. So even trying to find architects and engineers who were willing to take on a project like this, where you had that longevity as one of the key factors, that was an enormous challenge as well. Also, like the design of the Stupid, all we knew from Mami Ashi was the Stupid was to be big. So what does that mean? Where do we start? Judy and I had a friend who was an architect, and we asked him to come up with some ideas that I could put to llamas OPA. And he came up with sort of hybrid designs which combined, like, a Sri Lankan stupa or an Indian stupor with, like, an Aussie homestead. So you had a bit of a mixture of the two. The look on Lamar Zopa's face when I showed him this design was enough to say we're not on the right track at all. But in fact, it was Lama Zopa who himself gave the final direction on which way we were to go with the stupa, because someone in Melbourne had shown him a coffee table book. And across this coffee table book in the center, spread over a photograph of the ganzi stupa he had scrawled. This is my idea for the stupa in Bendigo. So when I saw this book, opened it up and saw that message in fact, I had never seen a photo of Kiansi Stoop beforehand, but I instantly fell in love with it. I just loved the size of it. It was big, but at the same stage, you could sort of relate to it on a human level level. It had a harmony about it that was to do with its sort of shape, but also it had a complete decoration phase about it as well, which is I just found to be beautiful. So then I realized that, well, all of a sudden, the idea we're just going to make a stupor was no longer just an idea. We knew exactly where it was going to be and what it was going to look like. And so we then had to get seriously into the process of getting planning, approvals, getting architecture, getting engineering, and then talking about the construction, and then, most importantly, thinking about how on Earth we're ever going to fund something. Because even in those early days, the first quantity disobeyer who looked at it said, well, it's at least $20 million to build something like this. That's just the structure alone. So there were lots of sleepless nights, I guess, just trying to get my head around all these issues. I was supported through this whole process by this devotion I had in Mamiushi, that he had seen this as a vision, that he knew how important it was, and he'd asked me to make it. So somehow or another, I just had to do my best. That's all I could do.
Well, that's an inspiring story because, wow, you spend 40 years of your life and you're still going, of course, to achieve such what must have seemed like virtually impossible to begin with, and now it's a reality. I do want to say that the great stupid universe compassion and the complex around it is much more than just a stupid. And you've mentioned already that there's a gomba or a temple inside, as well as a library, but there are other projects associated with it, and one of those projects is the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. Could you tell us a little bit about that? Yes, indeed. So this all started in 2003. I had a phone call from America, and there was a young guy on the other end of the end of the line. He introduced himself as Cheyenne Sun Hill, and he spoke like, you know, someone out of one of those American movies, and, like you say, hey, dude, we found this big boulder of jade, and I really want to make it into a big Buddha. And I'm thinking, is this guy for real? He just didn't come across as it was a strange, very strange phone call anyway. The more I listened to him, he explained that he was a Buddhist, but also a jade jeweler. And this big boulder of jade had been discovered in the year 2003, years before the phone call. And in those three years, they'd been trying to find the jade company, and Cheyenne had been trying to find someone to make this boulder into a giant, monumental peace. Hadn't had no luck at all. Cheyenne had run Buddhist projects around the world but no one wanted to take on something that big either because it was they couldn't afford it or too busy with their own projects or they thought it was a bit of a distraction from their main mission, if you like. Anyway, almost out of desperation, Cheyenne gave me a call in Australia because he'd heard about this great stupa that was being built there. It was, you know, Fortuitous Coincidental or whatever. The word was that Cheyenne lived in Santa Cruz. In California. And only three weeks from the date of that phone call I was actually planned to go to Santa Cruz. I was a member of the FPMT Inc. Board, which is the international body of the FPMT organization. And the board meeting was due to be in Santa Cruz, of all places, in three months time. So I said, Look, I'm going to be there in your place. I'll come a day or two early and we can talk about it in person. So he was very happy with that. So it came about. I flew into Santa Cruz and he came to meet me. He was sort of what I would picture over the phone, I suppose. A shortish guy, completely bald, head and tattoos everywhere and enormous lumps of jade in his ear like he had ear plugs, which are things about the size of a bottle cap in his ear lobes, which were big plugs that were in there. These are pieces that he'd made himself but a very gentle and sweet guy at the same time. So he took me around Santa Cruz and showed me some of the Santa Cruz lifestyle. He bought me a vegan taco. And then we actually went to a South Pacific island nudist club where we both got naked and hopped into hot tubs with various other people. So this is my introduction to Cheyenne and Santa Cruz. After that, we think, settled down a bit and we went to went somewhere. We talked about jade. And he explained to me about the significance of this boulder which has already been described as the find of the millennium. It's been written up in books and so forth because of the size of it but also because of the gem quality. Anyway. I thought, something that I had to explore this idea. So I arranged after the board meeting that I would fly to Canada with Cheyenne. So we went off to Canada and eventually got to meet Kirk Mate Peace, who was the chairman of the Jade Company. And eventually he showed me this big jade boulder. It was the size of like the size of a reasonable size car. And it just looked like a brown rock because jade is very strange. It's got this brown color about it. But in fact, that's a very thin rind, only maybe one or 2 mm thick. But if you polish that, that surface, suddenly you find this beautiful, translucent green jade color coming out. So anyway, after that trip, I then spoke to Luma Zopa about it, and I said, Look, I've seen this jay and there's something about it. I don't know. Maybe we should do something about it. He didn't say much that night, but the next morning he came back to me. He had this vision, and he said, you must make this boulder into a Buddha as an offering to peace and to peace to the world. It will be so significant. You must do this.
So my initial thought was, I'm already building this enormous stupid. Do I really need another big project to get involved with? But somehow another? I guess because a bit like Lamiishi and his vision for the Stupid, because Llama Zoba felt it was so important and I had such devotion to Lama Zopa as well. Then I thought, well, if he thinks it's that important, then I will have to find a way to make it happen. So eventually, we negotiated a deal with the Kirk Mate piece of his company to purchase the Jade Boulder for a million US dollars. Which we didn't have a million US dollars, but somehow or another, we negotiated an agreement that it would take us five years to pay this off. So then we had to just come up with down payments. First of all, $150,000. And again, we didn't have that money either. But some, somehow I just kept thinking, I will find it some way or another. And we explored many different options. Many of them failed, most of them failed. But eventually we discovered one or two people who were, you know, very supportive of the whole idea. And we also discovered a plan where we could almost presell some Buddhas made from offcuts of the jade Buddha. So we had benefactors who are happy to make offerings for these Buddhas as long as it came from the hut. So by the combination of things like this and the generosity of many people, we were able to make our first down payment, which enabled us to get the boulder shipped to Thailand, where we started to carve it. The whole process, from when I saw the boulder to when it was finished, took five years. So it was finished by the end of 2008. And then in 2009, we started a world tour. That world tour went on for eight or nine years. It took in 130 cities around the world in 22 countries. I think it was in Europe, America, Asia, India, Sri Lanka, and so forth. And eventually, over 12 million people came to see the jade Buddha universal peace. It was an incredible thing. And there were so many people receive so much blessing from this jade Buddha traveling the world. It also helped us raise a lot of funds for the Great Stupa as well, because people would ask, Where is this jade bullet going? And I would say it's going to this great stupa we're building in Bendigo. They would say, Where is this Bending go? And I would say it's near my Melbourne. It's near Melbourne. They say. Oh, Melbourne. That's good. When the jade Buddha comes back there, I'm coming to Bendingo and I'm going to come and see it for myself. And then they would make offerings to the Great Stupa as well. It wasn't intended to be that way, but the whole thing really had this incredible but I swear, for nine years or so, we were able to generate these funds which would help us. Every time we'd get some more funds, we'd build a bit more of a stupid bit by bit by bit, like building a sort of wedding cake, but over a decade sort of thing.
Really interesting to hear about how that has also inspired people's faith, but also contributed to the Great Stupa. So it's like different parts of it are mutually supportive. I did want to ask about another exactly. Yeah. I did want to ask about another part of the project as well, which is I don't believe it was part of the original plan, but it's now a reality and that's the Peace Park is aimed at fostering interfaith harmony. Could you tell us a bit about that?
Yes, it wasn't part of Lamieshi's plan, but it's been something that I've really taken a heart from His Holiness Dalai Lama, because His Holiness has said so many times how the fostering of interfaith harmony is sacred work, and it's something he really wanted everyone to encourage. And certainly Lama Zopa has also stressed this as well. So I felt because we had such a public place with the Great Stupa that last year we had nearly 100,000 visitors. Of those visitors, about half were Buddhist, probably a bit less than half, and a bit over half were tourists that were just general public. So I realized that we can make a big impact on people by putting out this message of interfaith harmony. So I put this vision to Llama Zopa and he wholeheartedly agreed with it. And I've subsequently put the idea to His Holiness as well, who's given his full support. So in this piece park, which is a bit of over 600 m² park, we've got a statue of Saint Francis from the Catholic faith. We have a symbol of Ikonka, which is a symbol from the Sikh faith, which means oneness with God, oneness of people, oneness of humanities. So it's a very symbolic, universal faith. We also have a Jewish hanakea, which is like a menorah, a candle, which is lit at the Festival of Peace. Right next to that, we're building an Islamic Mirab, which is one way of describing it, like a mini mosque. And I deliberately wanted the two of these side by side. And actually behind them we've also set up what we call a biblical garden. So there are five or six fruits which are common to both the Bible, the Koran, and also the Jewish texts as well, things like pomegranates and grapes, dates and feeds and olives. So behind surrounding those is this biblical garden. Right next to that is a Hindu temple, which is a Nepalese style temple to Ganesh. We also have being established, a Bahai garden is established and we also have various Buddhist activities throughout here as well. And finally, we have an aboriginal indigenous symbol as well being developed in the Peace Park. Now, as well as these different faiths, we also have different aspects of Buddhism as well because as a Buddhist, we know that not all Buddhists have always seen eye to eye. Various traditions have seen that they are the true way or they're more important than another way. But I wanted to embrace all forms of Buddhism here as well. So we've actually offered some land to the Sri Lankan Buddhist community which are based in Bendigo. And on that land they're actually establishing which they call Bodhi Dharma Harta. They're establishing their own area where they can do their own sacred practices. Within this site as well, there's also a Thai Buddhist and there's a Vietnamese pagoda planned as well. So again, respecting all traditions of Buddhism, whether it be Terravadan or Mahayana or Vitriana doesn't really matter. And then beyond that, just respecting everyone who comes, no matter what faith they are, or even if they don't have a faith, we want everyone to come there, who comes there to feel that here they have a place where they are, where they're welcome, where they're respected and where they're inspired to find a peaceful and a spiritual solution for themselves.
Wow, that is inspiring. Look, I feel like there's so much more to this project as well. Maybe you could just mention some of the other things that are happening as part of great stupa of Universe compassion on that site, which I haven't yet mentioned.
Yes, sure. Well, on the interfaith area, we've also established a large library inside the Stupor. And you might remember I mentioned that this was part of Lami Ishi's original plan. So this library has now been established. It's dedicated to the study of Buddhism, interfaith and science. Again taking our direction from His Holland Dial who really stressed that this should be a place for interfaith harmony and Buddhist science dialogue. So we already have texts from eleven different faiths represented in the library and many science and faith collections as well. It will be a major repository as it continues to grow and a major resource for study and for readers. So currently we've got a bit over 2000 texts in the library. They're both ebooks as well as hardcover books as well. And we have a library staff there as well. So it's a great resource promoting interfaith harmony and all. So the study of faith and science. The other important thing we do inside the Stupor is we promote something which is called what Holness Dialma calls secular ethics. Now. I think His Holiness as well as Lama, Yashi and Lumasopa have been very strong proponents of the view that if you're going to try and change the world and make a major impact in the world, to try and convert everyone to Buddhism is really a path that will lead you nowhere. At the moment we have, there are 2.1%, no less than 2% of Australians are Buddhists. So 1.4%, I think, to be exact, judging by the census figures, and that figure has plateaued. So where Buddhist used to be a fast growing religion, now at the moment, it's very stable. It's been overtaken recently by Hinduism and by Islam as well in Australia. So you can see that the appeal of Buddhism is going to be restricted by people's ability to make the connection. So how to make a big influence on the world. This is how where His Holiness and Stress, secular ethics and Alama yeshi. Also came up with the idea of universal education. So an education for all beings, which is not particularly following a Buddhist terminology at all, but all the values of Buddhism are incorporated. So we have a program there which is called 16 Guidelines to Healthy Life and that's available as a video to everyone who comes, but also handouts are available on that as well. And we also offer specialized training. The other thing inside the Stupid that we do, and I won't go on forever because I hope people will come and see for themselves. But we have a museum in there, actually. It's called the Unique Tibet Museum. And the Unique Tibet Museum presents the historical aspect of the Tibetan people, their customs, their religion and their lifestyle. So it's an interesting collection. It's been set up with the assistance of His Holiness's office in Canberra, and we have a number of private collections which have all been donated to it. And of course, there's an ongoing process of artwork. So building the stupor is one thing, but the decoration of the artwork of the stupa is something that is going to go on much longer, long after I've gone and long after the stupa is completed. So not only do we have the big Gomper inside the stupa, but we've also got shrine rooms on every level. And there may be up to 80 of those shrine rooms. We haven't even started on those yet. Wow. You have to think of the stupor as being like one of the medieval cathedrals that took two or three generations to complete. And it's taken me a while to come to look at it in these terms, but I can see this is the only way it's going to happen. So part of that decoration phase is ongoing. We have a team of artists. There are eleven artists currently volunteering their time to actually prepare all the artwork for the stupa. They are working currently on a very large statue of City Garba. This statue is over 5 meters tall, so everything inside the Stupa is massive. And once they've completed that statue, the next thing is the ceiling. And the ceiling of the main gomba is, in fact, going to be a color chakra mandala, incredibly ornate, but its size is the overwhelming. It is 20 meters by 20 meters square. So to hand paint that whole ceiling is an incredible project, which we expect will take close to two years. And we started work on that at the present moment. So we've given ourselves a deadline of 2025 to have that completed because we plan to have a Kalashakra initiation inside the Stupa in that year. So there's a lot going on all the time.
That's incredible. And it is inspiring in the sense, I think, that parallel to, like, a medieval cathedral, like, the amount of work that goes in, but also the inspiration and the devotion. It stands out. It's unusual in the modern world. That brings me to my next question. Question, could you tell me what was and is the meaning and purpose of the great stupa of universal compassion?
Well, as many of you listeners may know, a stupid self has many different purposes, many different functions. First of all, it's a symbol of the enlightened mind. So it's called sacred geometry or sacred architecture because it's built on a mandala shape, symbolizes the enlightened mind. Secondly, it's a place where relics are kept, relics of the Buddha and other holy teachers as well. So our stupa is going to perform all of those purposes. But beyond that, the reason why this stupa is so large is not just to make a special offering to the Buddha or to Buddhism or something like this. It's actually to bring people there, to actually to inspire them. The way I look at it is there are many symbols in the outside world that affect our inner world. So in the west, we look around, and I remember my trip to India. I realized how spiritualism was. Spirituality was everywhere. So in the west, we look around and we see symbols of commerce with big office towers or expenditure with shopping malls, or we see consumerism or we see individuality in all our suburban houses or whatever, or we see competition in sporting arenas. But the actual symbols of faith themselves are quite rare in our sort of world. Sometimes we might love the stained glass windows or whatever of the symbols we do have, but quite often those symbols are seen as maybe something from another generation. To me, what the stupa is doing is actually creating this symbol that spirituality is something here and something now that we really need to incorporate in our own reality as well. And like, every day that I'm at the stupor, I get people who come to me and say, it's so peaceful. It's so inspiring to come here. So you can see that this whole vision that lonely ashes and Lamas OPA have had for the stupa, that it be a place which will well, in lama lama zopa's word will plant the seed of enlightenment. Is actually coming, is coming to reality because people do come there and maybe they'd leave much more inspired and much more positive than before they came.
That's a really great answer, I have to say, and thank you for that and thanks for all your efforts to make this, what must have seemed like an impossible project, a reality now. And obviously it's still a work and project work under way, but I think that that in itself means that people will continue to engage and contribute to this project for quite a long time to come. Look, there's going to be people out there who are going to want to find out more and hopefully even go and see the great stupor of Universe Compassion. Could you tell them how can they find out more information about visiting or just about the project in general?
Yes, sure. So the easiest way is just to connect through our website, which is www.stupa.org au so that's stupid. S tupa. Orgoig au I'd like to also that's the simple way if we've got an office staff there who are happy to take any inquiries as well. So if you haven't want to send an email, that's simple to email@example.com au
I'll make sure that those details are in the description below the podcast. So if you want to click on the link, you can do so. Quite conveniently. Is there anything that I've forgotten to mention or you've forgotten to mention that we would like to include before you wrap the interview up?
Well, Sol, I'd like to thank you and Everyday Dumb and Network for the efforts you do as well. I think it's a wonderful thing and thank you for reaching out to me to actually provide the opportunity for this interview. Thank you very much. It
has been such a pleasure and to be honest, quite frankly, for me it's a privilege. And look, thanks for all the work you're doing and just best wishes. I really hope that it all comes to fruition over time. Thank you very much for taking the time to join us.
Thank you very much indeed.
Bye. And thank you to all our listeners for joining us with this inspiring episode of Treasure Mount in which Ian Green, the chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion and founder of the J. Buddha for Universal Peace, shared the story of the Great Stupa in Bendigo, Australia. If you are headed to that part of world, I strongly recommend that you check it out. You'd be missing out if you don't go. If you enjoyed this podcast, I'd appreciate if you could share this episode with your friends or other people who could benefit from this inspiring story. And don't forget to click on the follow button so that you get the latest episodes turning up in your stream on your podcast app. Treasure Mountain is part of the everyday dumber network. You can find out more about Treasure Mountain podcast by going to the link in the description below this episode. Or you can do a web search for Everyday Dumber Network. You can also find that out on the Treasure Mountain podcast website, information all previous episodes, as well as guests and transcriptions of interviews. And you can also tell me what you think by contacting me via the contact page. And I'd really appreciate your feedback too. You'll join us again for our next episode of Treasure Mount podcast as we seek for the treasure within.
Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd
Ian Green OAM is Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd and Founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal peace. Along with this wife Judy, has been a Buddhist for over 40 years and a vegetarian for over 25 years.
Ian’s connection to Buddhism began with a visit to India in 1971. He has had the good fortune to meet many Buddhist teachers including Geshe Loden, Zasep Tulku, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Ayya Khema. In 1979 Ian completed the month long course at Kopan Monastery, in Kathmandu (Nepal). Ian has continued his studies under many Buddhist masters to this day.
In 1980 Ian’s father, Ed Green offered 50 acres of land to set up a Buddhist centre near Bendigo. This original 50 acres was later added to with a further land from Ian’s mother and himself so that the Buddhist Centre in Bendigo is now 200 acres (85 hectares).
Ian was founding Director of Atisha Centre, he has served as board members of Tara Institute and FPMT Inc. He is currently Chairman of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Ltd and Founder of the Jade Buddha for Universal peace.
Ian has received various awards for his international work for peace and is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal.