The STUPAS of Victor’s Way
The STUPA, used in ancient times primarily by Buddhist religionists, appears to have been brought to India by (Persian) Scythians to which tribe the Buddha (to wit: the Sakya-muni, meaning the Scythian recluse). It was used initially as receptacle for relics, later as votive offering (Schopen: 1997; Fogelin: 2006; Snodgrass: 1992, et al.).
In Victor’s Way, the STUPA serves a different purpose. Rather than acting in lieu of the presence of (indeed as) the Buddha* or as a vow given hardware expression, it functions as focus for contemplation. Each STUPA is engraved with a bit of code (of Awakened Understanding), that is to say, with a bit of ‘liberating insight’. Stringing together all the bits into a ‘liberating sentence’ (or algorithm) helps an individual attain full (or fuller, therefore more fulfilling) awakening (Pali: samma-sambodhi).
Victor’s Way is a secular contemplation space, despite the obviously religious connections of some of the sculptures on view. Here an individual, not given to religious belief yet asking the perennial, ever pressing fundamental questions about life, such as, “What am I doing in this universe?” or “How can I achieve perfect fulfilment and happiness in an apparently open ended and continuously changing and strife ridden process of becoming and decaying?” or “What is the source and end of my life?” can answer these using personal direct observation and experience plus the knowledge offered by a variety of modern sciences. The solutions created within the space of the STUPAS to the above perennial questions are secular (actually meaning biological), therefore spiritual (i.e. breath = life furthering). Religious solutions are fundamentally political, therefore non spiritual (i.e. breath = life impeding) because invented as means of social control (for the benefit of priests, though they would deny that, wouldn’t they?).
11 STUPAS have been installed in Victor’s Way. Lone (and they should be alone) wanderers along the Way to their awakening may pass through my intimate spiritual (i.e. life enhancing) ‘space’ provided they do so in ‘contemplation mode’.
*… The notion of worshipping the STUPA = Buddha as a person1,2 was invented by corrupt Buddhist monks after the Sakyamuni’s death. They changed the Buddhist business model from a wholly secular approach to awakening and the elimination of suffering and which paid off – for the homeless wanderer – with merely a daily lunch with zero power and less fame into a vast and mysterious religious fantasy of salvation and which was and still is rewarded with power, money and fame. The Victor’s Way STUPAS symbolize not the BUDDA but Bodhi, that is to say, the liberating insight attained at the instant of full awakening (i.e. at complete fulfilment).
1 … The Buddha denied the (abiding = inherent essence = atta) reality of a ‘person’, both during life and after death. Consequently, worshipping (and moreover, taking refuge in) the Buddha was a serious mis’action, the more so the very act of worshipping had been declared by him to be seriously unskilful (indeed completely useless).
2 … Mahayanists (i.e. Cruise Liner Buddhists) later ‘lifted’ the ‘BUDDHA’ above the clouds (i.e. into the heavens) as a universal principle, hence having atta status. That was breathtaking betrayal of the Sakya-muni and his dharma, but good for business, as Tibetan Lamas continue to demonstrate.
Schopen, Gregory (1997): The Stupa Cult and the Extant Pali Vinaya (from ‘Bones, Stones & Buddhist monks’)
Schopen, Gregory (2004): Buddhist Monks and Business Matters
Fogelin, Lars (2006): Archaeology of Early Buddhism
Cunningham, Alexander (1854): The Bhilsa Topes
Snodgrass, Adrian: (1992): The Symbolism of the STUPA