March 11, 2011

"Eco-monastery" to open in the Buddha's birthplace

An “eco-monastery” will open in April in Lumbini, Nepal—the birthplace of the Buddha. The Lumbini Udyana Mahachaitya World Center for Peace and Unity (LUM), a project headed by Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche, will be the largest temple in Lumbini, at 48,600-square-feet, and has incorporated various “green” elements into its design—such as extra insulation, and relying on large area solar panels to generate all of the building’s lighting needs. Though it will be the largest temple in town, it will be the most environmentally friendly of all the buildings in the monastic zone of Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dharmakaya, Rinpoche's organization, began construction on the project in 2006.

“A green monastery is a model of inspiration,” Rinpoche said. “It highlights the importance of our gentleness and connectedness to each other and the earth. It promotes a sense of peace and unity for all.”

Rinpoche, the first incarnate lama to receive a PhD (from Harvard, no less), also cites the Buddha’s affinity towards the natural world as a reason to build an eco-monastery in his birthplace. “Nature and greenery were very important to the Buddha,” he said. “He was born under a tree, he became enlightened under a tree, he gave his first teachings in a forest, and he passed away between two trees.”

This is where the monastery will be located within the Lumbini Master Plan:

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