The Gompa Painting Project

Since March 2008, when Tushita’s main Gompa first opened its doors, we have been very blessed by several visits from our founder and spiritual director, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Rinpoche has given extensive advice for the development of Tushita’s main Gompa. As well as the Statue Projects, Rinpoche has given detailed advice on the painting of the Gompa, both inside & out, based on consultation with Jhado Rinpoche & Khadro la. So we are extremely fortunate to have such guidance and such a rich painting vision.

You can see the short film we made of this process on our Video resources page, or on our Vimeo account.

We would like to share with you the current future vision and join us in strong prayers that we are able to fulfill all the advice given in the fullest and most beneficial way possible.

December 2014 Update

We’re almost there! Most of the interior and exterior work is now complete, with only the ceiling Mandalas (Phase 3), and the Lama Choepa Merit Field Thangka to finish.

GPP -Jhado Rinpoche

Phase 3 – The final part of the project involves the painting of four Highest Yoga Tantra mandalas. These mandalas were painted on canvas in our Fire Puja house, to be installed on completion inside the Gompa, on the ceiling above Lama Tsongkhapa.

This installation will happen while the main Gompa is closed, during the annual winter break in December and January.

Jhado Rinpoche has been central to this process and has checked and advised the painters on their work several times in 2014. He is pictured right discussing the mandalas with head painter Pema Dawa.

We have just had some professional photos of the mandalas taken, by our friend Tim Roodenrys. Although the images have not yet been fully processed, you can get a sneak preview of some raw images of these 4 Mandalas below.
GPP Mandala story board

Complete so far…

1. The mural of the 4 Lama Tsongkhapa aspects: 3 are on one of the main walls near Lama Yeshe’s room, one next to the teachers’ entrance. The aspects have been so carefully painted with great love and patience and this truly reflects in the work.
2.  The 4 sets of mantra window blocks:  This work has helped truly transform the outside appearance of the Gompa.
3.  The 6 long life symbols: now adorn one of the main pillars as you enter the main Gompa.
4.  The Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga mural:  It is one of the main pieces the painters have been working on throughout the winter months.
5.  The 12 Deeds of the Buddha mural: has developed into the biggest masterpiece of the project.  As a gesture of generosity and in memory of one the head painters’ recently deceased parents in Tibet, real gold paint was applied to certain parts of the artwork, to provide an amazing finish to the piece.



History of the Gompa Painting Project

The Gompa Painting project launched in September 2012.

In July 2012 a series of key planning meetings were held with the painting team led by Pema Dawa, in order to explore in detail Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s extensive advice for the project and how to best fulfill that within the limits of the space available. A member of Tushita’s staff was also able to visit the painters onsite at their current project in the village of Bir. In this way we were able to learn more about how the painters work, the preparations they needed to make and the equipment that they needed.

It has felt at times like a giant jigsaw with more and more pieces falling into place.

The Inside Painting Vision 2012 - 2014

The Inside Painting Vision

RH - ShambuPhase 1 – Ran from mid September 2012 through to early April 2013. During this time the main gompa was closed, while the painters focused on the painting inside the gompa. Firstly, the walls were painted with the traditional shambu design (pictured right) along with other background painting work.

18 verses were advised for the beams and the small walls. The verses were painted in both Tibetan and English. The verses come from a selection of texts which include Shantideva’s “The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”, the Guru puja “Lama Choepa” text, as well as verses from sutras and the 7th Dalai Lama. Lama Zopa Rinpoche instructed us to emphasize verses on “Bodhicitta” and “death and impermanence”.

Eight painters arrived on September 26th 2012 to get started on the great transformation of Tushita’s main Gompa. In the preceding days, Tushita’s housekeeping team had been extremely busy, carefully packing and storing everything in preparation.

For the first 2 months the painters patiently prepared the background of the walls and the beams. The beams were prepared for mantras and verses with beautiful flower surrounds. A very detailed and stunning shambu design was painted around the top section of all the walls. Once the shambu was complete, some of the painters started preparing the design for the Vajrasattva mandala, working from an image provided from Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s collection.

The Vajrasattva mandala took 3 months of very careful work to complete. This mandala has been painted in the largest ceiling section of the Gompa, in front of the main doors. Towards the end of the work, more and more painters were working altogether to finish the finer details of the artwork and it was an amazing sight to behold as they worked so closely and carefully together.

Although we had originally planned to have most of the ground floor ceiling mandalas painted, we later received advice to print these mandalas. Thus the Vajrasattva mandala is the only painted mandala at this stage. The printed mandalas were recently installed: 1000 armed Chenrezig, Tara, Medicine Buddha, the 16 Arhats, Namgyalma along with two chakra images. One chakra image which was first shown at Kopan nunnery and the other, the Wheel of the Meritorious Elephant Generating Power.

The final mantras to be painted were the Five Powerful mantras on the main beams around Lama Tsongkhapa. The Five Powerful mantras are those of Mitrugpa, Stainless Pinnacle, Kunrig, Wish Granting Wheel and Namgyalma. These mantras free sentient beings from the lower realms.

The Outside Painting Vision 2013 - 2014

The Outside Painting Vision

GPP - Window versePhase 2 –The project then moved to the exterior of the building and ran from April-June 2014, making the most of the spring and summer months. The Gompa’s main entrance archways were filled with the 21 Taras and the 8 Medicine Buddhas.

Plus, according to Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche instructions, the following verse attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha were painted above the windows by the main red Gompa doors (left).

“Oh Bhikshus and the wise! Just as gold is tested,
Through burning, cutting, rubbing,
Likewise, examine my words thoroughly,
And only then accept them, not merely out of respect for me”



Phase 4 – A related, and we’re told final piece of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice for the Gompa involves the painting of a large Lama Choepa Merit Field thangka. It will be hung behind our Lama Tsong Khapa statue, above the cabinets containing the kangyur and tengyur (Tibetan Buddhist canonical scriptures) on the main altar.A thangka is an object of Tibetan Buddhist art, painted on fabric and hung surrounded by a brocade frame. The Lama Choepa Merit Field is the visualized or actual holy beings in relation to whom one accumulates merit by going for refuge, making offerings and so forth and to whom one prays or makes requests for special purposes.You can see more about this project here. 

It has been an extraordinary process to witness such a massive transformation to the main Gompa. It has been a multi-layered project to piece together Rinpoche’s vast vision for Tushita’s Gompa and see it gradually manifest. We hope and pray that many students and visitors will come and benefit from the painting work for many years to come.

Watch this space for further information as the vast painting vision unfolds…

A Big Thank You from Tushita to all the Kind Beings who made this Possible!