The Shi-Tro Mandala



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The Shi-Tro is a Tibetan Buddhist as well as a Bonpo practice for the dead. It is therefore appropriate that Lama Chodak Gyatso Nubpa chose to build this three-dimensional sacred art called the Shi-Tro mandala at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (cemetary) in California. I learned about this mandala when I was in Los Angeles receiving dharma teachings from the Dalai Lama on Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment - June 25-30, 2000. At that time His Holiness the Dalai Lama went to Forest Lawn to bless this sared art piece.

I wanted to put a photo of this mandala on this site, unfortunately the photos did not scan well. But one day you may be able to receive blessings from the Shi-Tro mandala when it goes on tour of the US. (Note: if you are researching the topic of shi-tro you could put alot of different spellings into the search some of which include:Zhi khro, and Xi tro, shi khro, and xi khro. I suggest you also try both with and without the hyphen or dash such as shi tro and maybe even run together shitro. The reason for the various spellings can be explained by the fact that some people use the Sanskrit and some the Tibetan, while others may just use phonics as in this case English. )

There is an ancient Buddhist prophecy which goes something like this:

Guru Rinpoche was born in Pakistan (known then as the Milk Ocean land). In the Earth Ox Year of 749 this enlightened Buddhist master journeyed to Tibet. According to legend he was able to defy death. When he was 1,000 years old he brought teachings concerning the Shi-Tro mandala to Tibet - this mandala is said to be a sacred map to enlightenment. By looking at it you can be purified of all negative karma (the harmful consequenes of your actions). It transforms emotions such as fear and anger into compassion and altruism.

The legend goes on to say that in the Wood Monkey Year of 804 Guru Rinpoche left Tibet by riding through the air on a horse - astonishing the crowd! It is written that he said "When the iron bird flies, the teachings will go to the West."

In the year 2000 - The Iron Dragon Year - the Tibetan artist Pama Namdol Thaye, along with a handful of other artists, started building the first three-dimensional mandala in the United States. It is intended to be a force for peace in the U.S. The Shi-Tro mandala will be 10 feet tall by the time it is finished and will have cost $250,000. It should take about 9 months to build. It was personally blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in June, 2000 while it was still under construction.

This project is under the supervision of Lama Chodak Gyatso Nubpa who was 49 years old in 2000. Lama Gyatso and his family fled Tibet when he was 8 yrs. old in the 1950s and the Communist Chinese invaded. His father was arrested and tortured but escaped and fled with his family to China. Of the 15 family members who started out on the treck only 5 survived.

This Shi-tro (alternatively Zhi Khro etc.) project preserves a vanishing cultural and religious art. Once every large monastery in Tibet had a three-dimensional mandala, but 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed by the Chinese during their occupation. The three-dimensional mandala is now precariously rare, so this is an effort to save this sacred art for the world.

The members of Chagdud Gonpa Thondup Ling are creating a non-sectarian curriculum for peace education for schools and communities across the United States to be used when the Shi-Tro mandala goes on national tour. Two major players are Jose Quintanar and Linda Maxwell have formed a non-profit secular organization called We Care for Youth. They work with groups of street kids now from California gangs and they teach them that we all have in common two things a pure heart and death. They teach about the impermanence of all life and how to have nurturing compassion.


This 3 dimensional mandala was completed and consecrated in November of 2000. Be watching because in the future the Shi-Tro mandala will be taking to the streets of America!


If you have updates or additions you wish to make to this page, please send me e-mail. All e-mails will be read and considered. I thank you for your feedback.



The goal of this page is to heighten the awareness of the Tibetan peoples plight and struggles & to educate about Buddhism. Please tell your friends to visit this site.

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