22.10.2013 Buddhism

Byron Blessing

Jeremy Ball visits Australia's only Kalachakra stupa for world peace

In the lush and verdant hinterland a short drive inland from Byron Bay lies a magical kingdom not unlike Rivendell as imagined by Tolkien. This paradise for the senses has been crafted with the love, sweat, joy and dedication of an elfin king and queen. Naren and Sono King created the Crystal Castle 10 minutes south of Mullumbimby and 20 minutes due west of Byron Bay in the far north of New South Wales, a centre of new consciousness in Australia. Like all great masterworks, it appears that this work was not laboriously planned, but rather was the outflow of a destiny, not unlike the naming of Byron Bay itself. Captain Cook named this glorious sweeping bay after Lord Byron whose grandson was to become one of Britain's greatest poets.

So, in a similar vein, Naren met with destiny when invited to a party for New Year's Eve 1985, at a unique property near the recently 'hippified' farming village of Mullumbimby. The home was set high on a hill with sweeping views of grazing land where once magnificent rainforest hugged the earth; the locals euphemistically called it "the Castle". It was built and almost completed by Mal Cooper who had employed the eccentric and brilliant architect Edwin Kingsbury who had the building placed on the peak of the property atop the inter-joining ley lines, a veritable power point. Constructed in a graceful sweeping style, the home enhanced the natural flow of energy to enliven those within.

Mal had demanded only the best materials which led to him going bust, with the home not quite completed - until that fateful night on the eve of 1986 when the king, Naren King, returned to his castle. He did not need to cut his way through the thicket as the land had already been cleared, but there was indeed a sleeping maiden, the spirit of the Earth herself needing to be revived and rekindled.

Naren determined to continue the project and succeeded in gaining finance on his sixth attempt, then going on to launch his company Crystalight, Australia's first importer of natural crystals from around the world, from his new home. And from there, destiny flowed from a plan beyond the mortal mind. Hippies from the surrounding towns would stop by to see what was going on and marvel at the crystals. When Naren had too much stock of large rose quartz, he laid them out along the garden path, making the grounds more inviting, and the Byron Bay Visitors Centre started directing people there on the chance they might get to look around. Naren set up a café to provide refreshments to the visitors who did not seem to want to leave, and from there the Crystal Castle birthed herself.

Naren, with his 25 years of searching the globe for the world's most beautiful crystals, was perfectly placed to lavish the gardens with incredible crystal obelisks and statues. Sono, with her flair for design, created magical gardens, the perfect blend of nature returning to her full glory and human augmentation which have become known as the Shambhala Gardens. More and more people were flocking to the Castle and gardens to buy crystals, for relaxation, meditation and contemplation. And by 2000, the gardens were opened to the public. The centerpiece is the Buddha Walk opening into a natural amphitheatre with banks each side and focusing on a huge statue of Lord Buddha alongside a lotus pond, sitting cross-legged in blessing pose. This statue was made by a Javanese master craftsman and brought to Australia. Like all the beautiful statues living in the Shambhala Gardens, it is created to standards fit for the open-air temple that it is. Other statues include Lakshmi, Ganesha, Avalokiteshvara, Garuda, Vishnu and many more and, like all masterfully created and revered icons, the statues hold the life and spirit of the being in whose form they are made. Wandering through the Shambhala Gardens is a restorative and inspiring experience that will bring you back to your centre and essential spiritual nature. It's a beautiful place to spend some time in meditation, contemplation or for writing and creative inspiration.

In 2003, Naren, Sono and family visited the incredible Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur in Java and determined to build a powerful and awe-inspiring stupa at the Crystal Castle. During a visit to Dharamsala in 2010, for a private audience with His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama, they consulted Woser Rinpoche, another high lama, who performed a divination, which led to him asking them to build a Kalachakra Stupa. The Dalai Lama duly blessed the newly conceived idea and, as is the case with great saints, the conception was birthed.

The Kalachakra Stupa is only the seventh of its kind in the world, and the only such stupa in Australia and the southern hemisphere. A stupa is a sacred monument in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition that represents the process of enlightenment. The design for the stupas have been brought through to the world by enlightened beings with their geometric shape, colours, patterns and decorations drawing in high spiritual energies and affecting the mind of the person visiting, viewing or honouring the structure.

The Kalachakra Stupa is a stupa for world peace and has a specific intention for restoring balance to the Earth in times of war, conflict and environmental destruction. The Kalachakra is one of the highest tantric teachings in the Tibetan tradition; it is the teaching for these times of great change, the trials and tribulations and positive thrust forward in human evolution. This teaching unites the practitioner and, through him/her, the earth's sphere with the realm of Shambhala, which can be thought of as a spiritual realm of enlightened warriors seeking to help transform the world and human consciousness. The teachings of Kalachakra have been held in Tibet for several hundred years and the great thrust of their prophecies is currently occurring. So it is a great blessing and of great importance to have a stupa of this nature available in our land.

The Kalachakra Stupa was formally opened at the Crystal Castle in 2012, with the Gyuto Monks, who just happen to live close by and are involved regularly with events at the Crystal Castle, working tirelessly and skilfully to create this geometrically precise and ornately beautiful sacred structure. It sits an incredible eight metres high and is filled with sacred objects and relics from lamas around the world.

Probably the most auspicious item it holds, to my mind as he was my beloved teacher, is the yellow tantric hat of the late and Most Venerable Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, one of the greatest holders of the Kalachakra lineage to grace this Earth and a tutor of the ever-humble Dalai Lama.

It was through the creation of this magnificent stupa that I came to know of the Crystal Castle that has become one of Australia's newest, most accessible and user-friendly sacred sites. It is an amazing example of a spiritual business run on ethical principles that provides something of beauty and inspiration to people, while also supporting the local community and donating money to many different charitable organisations, including a Tibetan kindergarten in Northern India. The Crystal Castle also supports local causes, Rainforest Rescue, and sponsors local community events and other worthwhile projects, such as The Fatherhood Project and Pathways Foundation. It represents the way forward for a new world - my hugest congratulations to Naren, Sono, the King family and their team.

Jeremy Ball

At 26, following a “shamanic intervention”, Jeremy closed his business and left London to visit sacred sites and elders, later creating Transformational Tours and SacredFire.

When not roaming mother earth, you will find Jeremy at home in Byron Bay's hinterland, playing with his children and planning the next adventure. jeremy@transformationaltours.com.au