The magnificent 7-foot statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is the centerpiece of Orgyan Dzong’s renovated main shrine room and is a lovingly-sculpted image of the Buddha himself which contains millions of mantras and other consecrated holy items. By its very existence, it radiates powerful blessings and inspiration for Orgyan Dzong visitors, the surrounding environment, and the entire world.
The statue represents a long-awaited result of a pure intention delayed—18 years long, in fact. Building on his art college background and an intensive study of Buddhist iconography and iconometry (the sacred canon of measurements and proportions for the creation of the Buddha’s image), Lama Jigme first undertook the Shakyamuni Buddha statue project in 1995 and prepared to incorporate HH Penor Rinpoche instructions on the proper interior ingredients. Unfortunately, the beginning of this project coincided with Peling Rinpoche’s rapidly deteriorating health which forced Lama Jigme to abandon the work of bringing this sacred image into reality – but not the determination.
A year after Peling Rinpoche’s 2009 Parinirvana, Lama Jigme was introduced to an accomplished Bhutanese sculptor, Tshewang Dorji, living in Toronto. Invited to Canada by Khenpo Sonam, Tshewang Dorji has created more than 60 statues for his Riwoche Temple’s beautiful altar. Struck by the quality of Tshewang’s work, Lama Jigme commissioned him to sculpt the Buddha image he had been longing to enshrine at Orgyan Dzong.
It took over two years for to complete the statue. Every step of the way, Lama Jigme had a collaborative role and spent long hours in the studio where he offered artistic and spiritual guidance to ensure that the final image, especially its face, was as aesthetically pleasing and inspiring as possible.
When the Shakyamuni was delivered in the summer of 2016, 23K gold leaf was applied to the body and the face was painted with a traditional matte formulation also using pure gold powder. Attention then turned to filling the statue’s interior. HE Mugsang Rinpoche kindly arranged for scores of traditional dzung—saffron-misted paper rolls printed with thousands of mantras each—to be created at Namdroling Monastery in India and shipped over to Orgyan Dzong. Tulku Dawa and the Palyul Khenpos living in Toronto added their expertise in helping to place the dzung and other interior ingredients at the statue’s heart and along its central axis which included sacred relics given to Lama Jigme by HH Penor Rinpoche during that period of original instruction in 1995. Please visit our photo gallery to view the various stages of this auspicious project from start to finish.
The culmination of all this meticulous effort took place in August 2016 when His Eminence Gyangkhang Rinpoche visited Orgyan Dzong to conduct the proper “opening of the eyes” and public consecration for the Shakyamuni Buddha image and bless the new shrines and bestow the Three Roots of the Longchen Nyingthig.