Together we’ll build the Buddha Hall
A spiritual home for all beings.

May update: Buddha, Ven. Ananda, and Ven. Mahaprajapati

The Buddha Hall project continues to unfold. We’re learning a lot about the realities of supply chain and other issues in the current construction environment.

We are steadily moving forward with the artwork, which is very inspiring. The sculptor Peter Griffin has completed the initial work  on the statues of Venerables Ananda and Mahaprajapati Gotami, which will be beautiful. He is now working on the Buddha statue. Due to its large size, it will be made in parts and shipped to the Abbey along with Venerables Ananda and Mahaprajapati Gotami. See more photos below.

We also ordered from Nepal the Dharma Wheel and the two deer that will grace  the entrance of the Buddha Hall, as well as the ganjira—the decorations on the roof common to all Tibetan temples. These will take approximately one year to make and have delivered to the Abbey.

Head of buddha statue, two standing staues behind him.

What is the Buddha Hall?

Imagine this world in 100 years. Between ever-accelerating technological advances and the uncertainties of climate change, it’s hard to guess what it will look like.

Now imagine that no matter what changes, in the eastern corner of Washington State, Buddhist monastics still meditate, learn, and study together. Intent on growing their love, compassion, and wisdom, they still share Buddha’s teachings with all who seek them.

Their peaceful temple is big enough to seat everyone who wants to learn. It’s equipped to broadcast teachings and meditations for those who can’t be there in person. And it’s dedicated to creating peace in a chaotic world, a spiritual home for all beings.

That’s what the Abbey’s new Buddha Hall is all about.

For 18 years, Abbey residents and guests have practiced in a converted-garage Meditation Hall. Now, with a resident community of 17 monastics and pre-Covid attendance at Abbey programs regularly surpassing 50 people, the Meditation Hall is just too small to contain all the Abbey’s Dharma activities.

When the Abbey opens up again, we expect an even greater surge of people seeking methods to cultivate peace.

The Buddha said that people who help to build holy spaces dedicated for growing virtue will enjoy the merit—good karma—that is generated there for as long as the building is in use.  We expect that to be a very, very long time.

Got more questions? Read Why This Big Buddha Hall?

What’s the plan?

The Buddha Hall will support Sravasti Abbey’s daily meditation practices, regular sangha and chanting rituals, teachings, retreats, pujas, memorials, and special Dharma events. Designed to fit beautifully within the Abbey’s forested landscape, it will be a two-story, 17,000-square-foot temple and library.

The main hall features a 10-foot statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, flanked by smaller statues of Venerable Ananda, the Buddha’s faithful attendant, and Venerable Mahaprajapati Gotami, the first Buddhist nun, who was also the Buddha’s stepmother. Equipped for superb sound and live streaming, the main hall will seat up to 100 people.

Two side halls will each seat 50 people. The Tara Room will be a more intimate meditation space, and the Posadha Room will be dedicated for monastic rituals. Both will also be equipped for broadcast. In addition, a Dedication Room will memorialize the people for whom prayers have been requested.

The Buddha Hall also includes a learning center with library, media room, and classrooms.

Because we are in a rural area, building also includes bringing in the necessary infrastructure: power, water, septic, and road improvement are all included in the constructions plans.

Now that we have the building permist (as of February 22, 2022), our contractor can price out the cost of construction under current conditions, including global supply chain interruptions, shoratges, and inflation. It’s a multi-million dollar project, and we hope to know the exact details soon.

Statues in in Progress

Sculptor Peter Griffin continues his work on the three statues we have commissioned for the main Buddha Hall altar. He wrote, “The statues are coming on well. I’m currently making the head of the Buddha Shakyamuni statue, and will start making the statue’s hands next week. I’m also planning to make the main part of the lotus for the big statue soon.”

The main altar will feature a ten foot Shakyamuni Buddha, seated on a lotus, in the center. To his right will be Venerable Ananda, the Buddha’s primary attendant whose prodigious memory preserved hundreds of Buddha’s teachings for later generations. To Buddha’s left will be Venerable. Mahaprajapati Gotami, the Buddha’s stepmother who later became the first ordained woman and founder of the nuns’ order.

Ven. Ananda played a crucial role in advocating for women to be ordained. Therefore, in addition to their esteemed places among the Buddha’s principal disciples, Ven. Ananda and Ven. Mahaprajapati are dearly admired for establishing the bhikshuni sangha.

Peter’s studio is in France and he has been working steadily on these images through the Covid waves in Europe. He hopes to visit the Abbey.

A new Manjushri painting

The Buddha Hall main altar will have beautiful statues and paintings to inspire our minds to think of the buddhas’ qualities and remind us of our own potential to become buddhas ourselves. The Abbey commissioned traditional thangka painter Tenzin Ngodup to create a new painting of Manjushri, Buddha of Wisdom, to hang alongside the new Shakyamuni Buddha statue that will be seated in the center of the altar.

Tenzin studied under master Tibetan painters and has created beautiful buddha images in the traditional way for decades. He now teaches this ancient art at his Institute of Tibetan Thangka Arts near Dharamsala in India. In this series of photos, you can see how the painting developed. Watch this video to learn more about the process.

Introducing Venerable Gotami and her Sculptor, Peter Griffin

While Buddha Hall construction permit applications make their way through various government regulatory departments, a different kind of construction is well underway.

Sculptors Peter and Denise Griffin are at work constructing the holy images for the altar in the main hall of the Buddha Hall: Shakyamuni Buddha, Venerable Gotami (the Buddha’s stepmother and the first Buddhist nun) and Venerable Ananda (the Buddha’s attendant.) See early impressions of the sculptors’ work below. Learn more about the statues here.

Met the Challenge!

Voices from Asia

Jumpstart Challenge

Meet the Building Team

Tim Wilson, of Momentum Architecture  designed the Buddha Hall. Tim designed two previous buildings for us—Gotami House and Chenrezig Hall—and has created a beautiful, spacious Pacific Northwest design with Tibetan touches.

Young Construction Group, local commercial builders with over 25 years experience, will build the Buddha Hall. They’ve constructed many wonderful projects in North Idaho and Eastern Washington, including several churches. We’re happy to have them guide us through the next phase of the project.

Scott Pfeiffer at Threshold Acoustics will ensure that you can hear every word of Dharma spoken in the main hall. Threshold is also designing the audio-visual systems for streaming, Zoom-ing, or recording teachings and discussions from the Buddha Hall’s main hall and side rooms, including assistive listening systems for the hard of hearing.

Peter and Denise Griffin of Griffin Studios have started on the custom Buddha statues for the main hall altar—a 10 foot Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by his attendant, Venerable Ananda, and the first nun, Venerable Mahaprajapati Gotami, who was also the Buddha’s step-mother. Photos and video of their progress will be available soon.

The Sravasti Abbey Team includes abbess Ven. Thubten Chodron and Ven. Thubten Tarpa, who has overseen construction on most Abbey building projects, including Gotami House and Chenrezig Hall. Ven. Samten, who guided the building of Prajna Cottage, is especially concerned with acoustics in the main hall. Ven. Damcho is working on the altar design, and Ven. Semkye is involved with aesthetic decisions like choosing the lighting fixtures. They are supported by everyone in the resident community.

Check out the Buddha Hall designs

Check back to follow project updates.

By your effort, may the Buddha Hall become the spiritual home of all sentient beings
and a refuge of love, compassion, and wisdom
to create peace in a chaotic world.

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