929: The Temple’s Progress Report

The General Director’s report:

The environmental impact assessment for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s temple was passed in August of this year (2018), and as was previously reported to you all, there will be a series of related projects and activities going forward. We are grateful to Rinpoche for the continuous leadership he has given disciples and outside engineers, despite being so busy helping sentient beings. In every matter, Rinpoche has taken on a personal role in supervising, guiding, and teaching us. Last week, preparations began to sculpt a bunch of timber that had previously been shipped from overseas into statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. I would like to invite a certain Dharma brother to share with you all how auspicious and amazing this process has been.

Dharma Brother Zhu Shuaijun’s Account:

Let me first express my gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors, all honorable believers, and Dharma brothers. For a while after His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed Rinpoche to undertake the construction of his own temple so that his victorious teachings and Dharma lineage could be left behind for sentient beings, so periodically we would hear about progress for the temple’s environmental impact assessment or soil conservation.

Stored at the Port of Taichung

Once the environmental impact assessment went through, construction on the temple began. On September 10th and 11th, several enormous logs of African beechwood were shipped from the Port of Taichung. As you can see in the first of these two photographs, the imported timber had been placed there in storage two years previously; the high-quality wood had already been chosen beforehand. Dharma brothers and honorable believers, the photos you are now viewing were taken in Taichung by Dharma Brother Jia back when he was still alive. From this it is also evident that the virtuous deeds bestowed upon to him to do by Rinpoche continue to bear effects even after he is no longer in this world, thanks to the guru’s effort and foresight.

September 10th / Using a crane to load the timber

On September 10th, the timber was loaded by crane onto a truck at the Port of Taichung. For days it had been raining heavily across northern Taiwan, but as you can all see in the photographs, the weather that day was sunny and clear in the Port area. Take a look at how the two enormous logs were lifted onto the truck by crane. The timber-processing factory we commissioned is located in Daxi in Taoyuan County, and some of the roads on the way there are relatively narrow. In order to avoid traffic jams, therefore, the truck set out in the middle of the night and arrived in Daxi very early on the morning of September 11th.

These photos were taken at 7:00 in the morning on September 11th, when the logs had arrived at the timber-processing factory and were being offloaded from the truck. As you can see, they were absolutely huge. First a stacker had to be used to push them backward, and then a crane was used to place them atop the cutting machinery.

September 11th / At the wood-cutter at Daxi, after unloading the truck

Using a stacker to haul the timber over to the sawmill

Using a gantry crane to place the timber onto the sawmill trolley

Beginning to measure and examine the wood grain

This was taken after one of the logs had been placed onto the machine. The one doing the measuring is the factory owner, and the one wearing the green T-shirt is a sculptor we hired—Master Lan Weiwen. Master Lan is exquisitely skilled in the art of traditional woodworking, and is a preserver of Taoyuan cultural assets approved by the Ministry of Culture. After he and the factory owner examined the wood, they verified that it was of excellent quality and were very pleased.

Beginning to cut the timber

Halving the first piece

Here the initial cut has been made to the first of the big logs. As you can all see, a groove has been sawed through the middle, and the first boards are beginning to be cut out. The vertical blade is used to saw down to the underlying wood and remove the layers of tree bark. The next photograph shows the sawing of the bark on both sides of the log. The next photo was taken after the first piece of timber had been cut, and the next piece had been started. The next photo is of a smaller piece.

Master Lan taking measurements

This photograph is of Master Lan measuring the cut wood to confirm that it was of the quality required to be carved into statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. At present these, plus their adornments and the wisdom flames behind them, are estimated to be quite large, each at 360 centimeters tall. Excellent logs were chosen, so virtually none of the wood was wasted. Due to the total lack of blemishes and flaws within the timber, the wood could be cut to much larger and taller measurements than Master Lan had originally predicted. Sometimes wood will split over the years, but due to being chosen under Rinpoche’s benevolent protection and with the Dharma protectors’ blessings, upon being cut, our logs were shown to be of superior quality. As a result, the wood measurements could be even wider, thicker, and taller than Master Lan had predicted. For this reason, he said he expected they would be roughly 360 cm in height once the wisdom flames, Dharma instruments, clothing, and other decorative carvings were added.

On-site work

These next photographs are of on-site work operations. The numbers one through four indicate pieces of cut timber. Originally, Master Lan had predicted that for the Four Heavenly Kings—plus their decorations, colored ribbons on clothing, various treasures or Dharma instruments, and wisdom flames—8.5 cubic meters of wood would be needed, but due to the high quality of the logs, we were able to get more usable wood than that out of them. All in all, the quality was higher than expected. For example, as you can see here in this photograph, there are two places where the wood has split over the years, but overall such instances were quite rare with this timber. The craftsmen who cut it and Master Lan who is in charge of carving it were all very pleased.

How the logs looked after being cut

I have just reported how the wood was cut. At 7:00 that morning, when the wood was hauled up to Daxi to be cut, the head craftsman had conservatively estimated that due to the enormous size of the logs, it would take until the following day to finish. Later, after the wood had begun to be cut and sawed and it was discovered how high its quality was, they were happy to report that it would probably all be done by 5:00 that afternoon. In actual fact, however, it only took until 4:00! This was all thanks to the awe-inspiring blessings and help bestowed by the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, the guru, and the Dharma protectors.

In 2005, some Buddha statues were being filled at the Buddhist Center. At the time only male disciples participated. That evening, after preparations for the filling of the statues had been made, I asked the khenpo, “How many Buddha statues will we be able to fill by 9:00 this evening?” He said, ‘Probably one and a half.’ As it turned out, when 9:00 rolled around and it was time to leave, we had filled three and a half Buddha statues. This was the absolute truth. I reported to Rinpoche, “It could not have been us doing the work; the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors must have helped us. All we did was to run errands.” Rinpoche nodded in silence. That day at the sawmill was the same; they finished at 4 PM. I have now finished reporting the woodcutting process.

In addition, other preparations for construction are being done at the site of our temple, such as land and water conservation work. Our next project is to transplant trees. At the site of the temple there are a few very precious or larger trees, and according to a government ordinance, we have to relocate them. Then, once construction is complete, we will transplant them back where they were.

When we are reporting on the temple’s progress to our close friends and family, we can tell them that construction has already begun and that the wood for the Four Heavenly Kings is ready to be sculpted. The next step is to transplant trees and conduct other land and water conservation works. We truly are headed in the right direction of completing the temple, one step at a time, with Rinpoche leading the way.

There is another matter I would like to share with you all. Rinpoche made a phone call to His Holiness, but because His Holiness was out of the country, he was unable to get through to his cell phone. Rinpoche asked his attendants to request special instructions from His Holiness regarding various details to do with the initial engravings on the Four Heavenly Kings, evidence of the great respect Rinpoche has for his guru. This made us realize how greatly Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reveres His Holiness, and all disciples present were deeply moved and filled with admiration.

Furthermore, our Dharma brothers of the Miaoli Temple Team have failed to fulfill some projects, and are completely at fault for vexing Rinpoche. Ever since we took refuge in him, we have enjoyed a very good life, and it is not just us who have; our family members are safe, healthy, and living in peaceful households. However, we have forgotten how hard our guru has worked. At seventy-two years of age, he is elderly, but he still has to take so much trouble to look after his disciples and supervise the temple’s construction. We, on the other hand, have only thought of ourselves, and have forgotten that he is busy benefiting sentient beings. It has slipped our minds that we should preserve our guru’s victorious lineage eternally; we have forgotten the constant suffering of sentient beings tumbling over and over through reincarnation. We have only thought about ourselves, thereby neglecting matters related to the temple’s construction.

Here I would like to repent before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, all my Dharma brothers, and all sentient beings. From now on, we must continue to work hard and hope that Rinpoche’s temple can be completed as soon as possible so that all sentient beings in the Six Realms will benefit.

Respectfully written by Disciple Zhu Shuaijun (Group 3) on September 16, 2018.

Updated on October 24, 2018