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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Jade Buddha unveiled Sunday morning in Aldergrove

August 9, 2010
August 5, 2010

As part of its ongoing world tour, the Jade
Buddha for Universal Peace will be unveiled in
the courtyard of Aldergrove's Hoa Nghiem
Monastery this Sunday and will then be on display until August 15.

Ian Green, chairman and director of The Great
Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia, which
commissioned the statue and organizes its
touring, said the Buddha has received a tremendous response so far.

"In the first year of its travels around the
world, over 4.5 million people have come to see it," Green said.

He expects it to be tremendously popular in Aldergrove as well.

"We expect over the nine days 200,000 people will come to see it," Green said.

The statue is the largest Buddha carved from
gemstone-quality jade in the world. It is 2.7
metres high, weighs over four tonnes and is
valued at $5 million. It was carved from the
Polar Pride, a 18-tonne boulder of
gemstone-quality jade that was discovered in
northern B.C. in 2000 by Surrey's Jade West
company. The Polar Pride remains the largest
boulder of gemstone-quality jade ever found in the world.

Green said the statue's time at Aldergrove's
monastery is particularly important, as it's the
only stop on its current tour in B.C., the province from which it originated.

"For me, particularly, to follow it all the way
and especially coming back to Vancouver, it's
completing the circle," he said. "It's incredibly special."

The statue was carved in Thailand, and took
nearly five years to complete. The design is
based on the Buddha inside the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya in India.

Green said that particular Buddha was chosen
because it is recognized by more Buddhists than any other design.

"It's for all Buddhists, beyond all Buddhists,
all beings, so we wanted to make it as universal as possible," he said.

Carving began in 2003 and the statue was
completed in December 2008. After completion, it
was blessed by Venerable Krubar Boon Choon
Yamsunkhvaro in an event attended by 100,000
people on the Thai – Cambodian border, toured
Vietnam for three months in March 2009, traveled
through Australia for half a year and was then
consecrated in Australia in December 2009 by the
Dalai Lama. It's spent most of 2010 touring the
U.S., and has appeared everywhere from Miami to Memphis to Virginia.

After its stay in Aldergrove, it's headed to
Seattle and then California. In 2011, it will
visit more American cities and then head to Germany, England and Sweden.

Green said the tour was inspired by Lama Zopa
Rinpoche, who played a key role in the statue's
creation and envisioned it as a force that could
inspire people worldwide and urge them to seek
peace. He said the tour is anything but over.

"I think it will tour for another five or six
years at least," Green said. "By then, it will
really fulfill Lama Zopa's vision of illuminating the world."

The statue's eventual home will be in the Great
Stupa of Universal Compassion, near Bendigo,
Australia. It's a long-running project to
replicate the Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet,
which is 50 metres wide along each side at its
base, nearly 50 metres high, and took 45 years to
build. When complete, the Great Stupa will be the
largest stupa outside of Asia. Stupas are the
largest Buddhist religous monument and are used
by Buddhists as places of worship and meditation.

"It's a big Buddhist temple, but it's also beyond
that; it's a symbol of enlightment," Green said.

Green and his wife, Judy, run the Great Stupa
project. He said he and his family have been
involved with the project for 30 years.

"My father donated the land to build a monastery
there," he said. "That's what we've been doing for most of our lives."

The Buddha will be unveiled at the Hoa Ngheim
Monastery, located at 2623 - 272 Street, this
Sunday at 10 a.m. Monastery spokesman Tony Vuu
said the unveiling ceremony will also serve as
the monastery's grand opening; they took over
their building last month from the Aldergrove
United Church, but have been renovating around the clock since then.

The monastery was formerly based in Burnaby, but
moved to Aldergrove to be closer to the
Vietnamese community of farm workers in the
Fraser Valley. Vuu said the statue's arrival
presents the perfect time for them to have a grand opening celebration.

"It's just a really special time for us," he
said. "Normally, when you have a grand opening,
you can't draw a large crowd, but the power of
the Buddha brings everyone together."

Vuu said the ceremony is open to the public, and
he'd love to see people stop by and see the statue during its stay in town.

"The Jade Buddha represents the peace of the
world," he said. "We want to bring our people together here."
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