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Peace and blessing: Hungary’s oldest Buddhist stupa in Tar

I read a lot about Buddhism, the most peaceful religion in the world, during my college years. I got close to it in 2019 when I was in Sri Lanka (I wrote about it here and here) and experienced with my own eyes how much religion and rites are part of everyday life. One of my most memorable Buddhist experiences is linked to Dambulla’s rock church. In addition to the 150 different depictions of Buddha in the UNESCO World Heritage Site carved into the rock, I even received a blessing as a parting gift. It was blessed by a Buddhist monk living there and must be worn until it breaks away from itself. If that happens, we’ve accomplished a karmic task in our lives.

One of the Dalai Lama’s many teachings and philosophy says: Travel every year to a place you’ve never been before. I took his words seriously and did not go abroad, but I went to one of the most special places in Hungary, the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Memorial Park in Nógrád County. Located on the outskirts of Tar municipality, the Peace Stupa is the oldest Buddhist shrine, which can be visited since 1992. Through the pictures from my visit, I tell you what is known about this sacred place and religion.

The Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Peace Stupa was built by the Karma Kagyüpa Buddhist Community of Hungary, with the joint support of Hungarian civil persons, companies and the state. The shrine was consecrated by the 14th Dalai Lama on July 22, 1992, in the presence of invited representatives of the Churches of Hungary and the Republic of Hungary, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma. This stupa is the oldest Buddhist shrine in Hungary, as the one in Zalaszántó was not handed over until a year later, in 1993.

Within the park there are several places where you can meet prayer flags with mantras and symbols in the Tibetan language. Prayer flags are usually stretched outdoors to pass on the energy of the prayers and mantras in contact with the wind. It is believed that if the wind blows the flag, the surrounding square will be cleansed.

The stupa is a sacral building of Buddhism, which is common in Buddhist countries in Asia. The form was defined by Buddha himself 2,500 years ago. The white cone represents the perfectly enlightened spirit, which consists of an inseparable unity of boundless wisdom between universal compassion and love. In the area of the memorial park, a statue of Buddha can be seen in several places surrounded by crystals and malas (Buddhist prayer beads).

In the four corners of the Stupa, vases containing offerings are walled, while in the middle the prayer wheel, the manikhorlo, rotates. The cylinder contains 700 million holy verbs (mantras) and is constantly on the move 24 hours a day. The wheel helps spread Buddha’s teachings around the world. The prayer wheel occasionally tinkles, which is the heartbeat of the stupa and reminds us that blessed teaching is continuous. While we were there, we walked around the prayer wheel in the same direction as the sun, expressing our best wishes, which the power of the stupa and wheel will help scatter around the world.

Buddha Park bears the name of Sándor Csoma Kőrösi, who left for Inner (Central) Asia in 1819 to search for the motherland of the Hungarians. During his travels, he also made his way to Western Tibet, where he studied Tibetan for seven years in Ladak and later created the first Tibetan-English dictionary. Sándor Csoma Kőrösi also acquired the Buddhist ethos among great deprivation, led by trained llamas. He later became Csoma Boszatsu, the Bodhisattva of the Western world, and was inaugurated as the Hungarian saint of Buddhism after his death. There is also a separate house in the park that preserves the memory of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, it is worth seeing.

In a small greenhouse, you can light incense or candles against donation. According to the Buddhist religion, the smoke from the incense takes prayer to the heavens, creating a connection between the earthly and spiritual worlds. The Buddha Memorial Park also features a building with the architectural style of an ancient Hun temple, named the Savior’s Buddha Mother Temple. The building, which was consecrated in 2011, is closed during the day and can only be visited through public programs.

Tara Tea House serves special oriental drinks and snacks (e.g. spicy milky red tea or mango lassi), while the store sells Buddhist books, Ayurvedic medicinal products, teas, jewelry and crystals for those interested in Eastern culture.

Finally, let the Dalai Lama teach five eternal teachings:

  1. There are only two days in the year when there’s nothing you can do. One is yesterday, the other is tomorrow. So today is just the day to love me, to believe and first and foremost to live!
  2. All good human relationships are based on mutually expressed compassion and love. That’s what happiness is built on.
  3. If we looked down from space to earth, we wouldn’t be seeing national borders. We’d only see one small planet.
  4. Everyone controls their own destiny; we ourselves must create the causes of our happiness. We’re the only people responsible for this, no one else.
  5. It is up to us what the experience with which our death will serve will be. We die the way we lived. Whether it’s a positive or a negative experience, it’s going to be like our lives were. If we lived intelligently, well and happily, our deaths will be easy and calm. If we didn’t live like this, it’s going to be harder.

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