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The Contemplative Garden Project


Spalding University's meditation garden was established to honor Thomas Merton's and The Dalai Lama's encounter, which inspired many individuals about the value of interfaith community partnerships. A stupa is an ideal monument to create in downtown Louisville since it is a strong symbol of spiritual progress and global understanding. It is a gathering place for individuals of all faiths and backgrounds to learn, develop, and foster interfaith community partnerships. Furthermore, the Stupa is the classic form of Buddhist architecture, and it is the ideal expression of Buddhist culture and heritage in the center of downtown Louisville, a dynamic and varied city.

The Stupa Chambers

The stupa isn't just a beautiful monument, it serves a deeply profound purpose. Each section of he stupa contains chambers that house sacred artifacts.

Below is an explanation of each chamber:

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Suppression Chamber

The suppression chamber contains symbolic items which represent causes for illness, disease, and harm to a society such as drug addiction and violence. Among some of the various items placed inside were guns, used hypodermic needles, discarded clothing from the homeless, pesticides, and unhealthy food.

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The Vase Chamber

The vase was filled with over 1000 Tibetan Buddhist texts. in the center, you can see the sogshing which is wrapped in five colored cloth. The life force tree conties to the top of the thirteenth dharmachakra ring.

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Treasure Vases

Treasure vases were placed throughout the stupa to assist with the healing of the environment and replenishing of the elements.

The vases are filled with Tibetan medicine balls called yang-dzay, jewels, essences, scents, grains, roots, minerals, water and soil from holy places and around the world, incense and dutsi, a holy substance that transforms negativity into wisdom.

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The Four Steps

Over 3,500 were placed within the stupa. These Tsa-tsas were made of clay by volunteers and are considered powerful and sacred objects that can be used as a way to connect with the divine and to accumulate positive merit. They are also believed to have the power to purify negative karma and to bring blessings to the individuals who make offerings of them.

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Wealth Chamber

The wealth section represents items that aid in our well-being on earth. Grains, farming equipment, medicine for disease, money, jewels, new clothing, a globe of the world are some of the items placed here.


The Yasti

The Yasti sits at the top of the Stupa and contains 13 rings. In Buddhism, the number 13 is believed to represent the 13 stages of the path to enlightenment, known as the "13 steps of the Bodhisattva's path". Each of the 13 rings represents one of these stages and serves as a reminder for the viewer of the path to enlightenment and the potential for inner growth and spiritual development.

The Yasti (Topper)

The yasti (topper) of the stupa in Spalding University's contemplative garden is a unique and striking feature of the monument. The yasti, or spire, was crafted by local Louisville artists and is a true testament to the talent and skill of the community. The yasti was hand-sculpted and then cast in bronze, giving it a strong and durable form. To add a touch of elegance and beauty, the yasti was then finished with gold leafing, making it shine and sparkle in the sunlight. The yasti serves as a focal point of the stupa and is a symbol of the spiritual aspirations and connection to higher realms. This beautiful yasti is a tribute to the artists who created it and it adds to the contemplative atmosphere of the garden.


The Labyrinth

A few steps west of The Stupa leads to the limestone and brick, 47 foot diameter labyrinth modeled after the world’s most recognized labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, France. The design for this labyrinth dates back to 1205 when monks used the labyrinth for contemplation.

The Labyrinth Construction

Great attention was paid to creating the perfect replica of the Labyrinth found at the Chartes Cathedral in Notre Dame. 

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