Across River Road from the KPC Temple in Poolesville, Maryland, is a 65-acre Peace Park, open to the public during daylight hours. You do not have to be a Buddhist to enjoy the peaceful miles of walking trails that lead to meditation gardens and magnificent stupas, consecrated structures that are considered to embody the mind of enlightenment.
Sacred Structures in the Peace Park
The focal point of the park is the golden Migyur Dorje Stupa, 35 feet tall, dedicated to physical and spiritual well-being. The stupa contains relics of Migyur Dorje, 17th c. teacher of the founders of the Palyul Lineage. Asian stupas enshrining Migyur Dorje’s relics have long been known as sites for miraculous healing. Inspired by this, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, Spiritual Director of KPC, specially dedicated KPC’s Migyur Dorje Stupa as a place of pilgrimage and spiritual refuge for those with physical and mental afflictions. The customary practice is to walk clockwise around a stupa, making wishing prayers for the benefit of all those, including oneself, who are suffering. Offerings may also be made on the altar bench in front.
The Peace Park is also home to a Long Life Stupa Park, located in the northwest area of the property. This park consists of nine stupas. The central 18-foot stupa is dedicated to the long life of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. The outer circle of smaller stupas consists of a traditional set of eight, each slightly different and symbolic of a significant event in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Five other smaller stupas are sheltered in wooden shrines in five meditation gardens, located at the four points of the compass and at the center of the Peace Park. The central garden is called the White Garden, and is the metaphysical center of the property. The White Garden is dedicated to the Buddha Vairocana, who embodies the quality of the spacious mind, free of contrivances and concepts. This quality represents the purification of ignorance. The garden is located on a lush flood plain and is entered by crossing a graceful arched bridge. Plantings in this garden are white to promote meditation on the associated wisdom.
The gardens at the four points of the compass are similarly dedicated and decorated. The Red Garden, in the western direction, symbolizes discriminating wisdom, the purification of desire.The Buddha associated with this wisdom is Amitabha, Buddha of Limitless Light, whose practice is particularly important at the time of death. The Red Garden is easily accessible from River Road, as is the Yellow Garden, at the southern point. The Yellow Garden symbolizes generosity, the purification of pride, and is associated with the Buddha Ratnasambhava.
With a pleasant hike to the back of the Peace Park, you can reach the Green and Blue Gardens. Green, in the North, symbolizes concerned activity for the benefit of all beings, the purification of envy or jealousy. That garden includes a wetlands always bursting with new green life, as if moist with the very breath of compassion. The Blue Garden, in the eastern direction, symbolizes mirror wisdom, the quality of the imperturbable mind. Mirror wisdom is the purification of anger. The Blue Garden is at the highest point of the property, reached by a sloping trail, with a springtime view of flowering trees and flowing streams.
Also located in the Peace Park is a meditation garden in the Zen style, including a small meditation shelter with benches. This garden is also easily accessible from River Road.
The Peace Park is a wildlife sanctuary. It is not uncommon to see deer, an occasional skunk, fox, rabbits, or opossum. Birders! More than 100 species of birds have been found in the Park, including the Great Horned Owl.
At present, the Peace Park is not wheelchair accessible. Plans include easier access to the Migyur Dorje Stupa to facilitate its use, in particular, by those most in need. The Migyur Dorje Stupa is currently reachable by high-clearance vehicles using a rough graveled road. However, vehicle use is generally discouraged in the Peace Park, and the Migyur Dorje Stupa is otherwise accessible by trail an easy five-minute walk. The park is open from dawn to dusk. You are welcome to bring your dog for a walk on a leash.