Garden of 1,000 Buddhas Provides Peaceful Refuge - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Garden of 1,000 Buddhas Provides Peaceful Refuge

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JOCKO VALLEY -

While driving through the Jocko Valley just north of the small town of Arlee, you probably wouldn't expect to see 1,000 Buddha statues, surrounding a 24-foot tall figure of a Tibetan deity.

The Garden of 1,000 Buddhas is located just two miles north of Arlee, on what used to be a 60-acre sheep ranch.

"You can't help but feel good, basically, you can't help but feel… kind of natural settling of your mind," said Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche.

Rinpoche, a former Buddhist monk, is the spiritual director of the Ewam School of Tibetan Buddhism and the founder of the garden.

He said as he was traveling through Montana with a student 15 years ago, he stumbled upon the Jocko Valley property and knew it was special.

"The way the sky is so vast and open, and how the mountains surround the valley and are protected in that way, and so, it was just kind of a perfect palette for a garden like this," Rinpoche said.

At the center of the garden is the figure of Yum Chenmo, also known as The Great Mother of Transcendent Wisdom, surrounding her are the 1,000 handmade Buddhas all arranged in the shape of an eight-spoke Dharma wheel.

The perimeter of the wheel is made up of 1,000 stupas, which represent the enlightened mind of the Buddha.

Media and Communications Coordinator, Deborah Hicks said what's incredible, is the concrete figures are cast and molded by hand.

"It takes about 30 days from the time that they start it until it cures, and then they hand sand and hand finish it," Hicks said.

The garden is filled with intricate and colorful Tibetan Buddhist deities and other religious figures, but employees said the garden can hold meaning and purpose for people of any faith or denomination.

"It's not about worshipping deities, it's not about worshipping the Buddha in that respect, it's about worshipping the qualities that he manifested, or was embodying, and that really is compassion," Hicks said.

Hicks, said she thinks the western world is hungry for Buddhist teachings, even though many people might not understand the religion.

"But, we want to feel peaceful, we want to have good relations with our friends and families, and these types of people are just the right teachers for what we need right now," Hicks said.

Rinpoche encourages everyone to visit the garden, but especially those who have experienced a death, depression, or other hardship, because at the garden, he says one will find peace of mind.

"Use the garden, it's really your garden, so use the garden to benefit yourself," he said.

The garden is maintained by a few employees and volunteers. They host Buddhist retreats and peace festivals throughout the year, and are working to bring the Dalai Lama to the garden.

To find out more about the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas, click here.

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