Сoncept of the Buddhist temple in Moscow
Buddhism spread in Russia in the 17th century, when the peoples of Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva began to profess it in the lower reaches of the Volga and in Transbaikalia. In 1741, in accordance with the Decree of Empress Elizabeth II, Buddhism became one of the officially recognized religions of the Russian Empire. In 1753-1758, Tsongolsky datsan was built – the first Buddhist temple complex in Russia. A little later, the first building of the Gusinoozersk datsan was also built. At the same time, Buddhist temples also appeared in Kalmykia, and by the end of the 18th century, 14 monasteries were already operating there. In St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, the first Buddhist temple was built in 1915, with the blessing of the XIII Dalai Lama.
In modern Russia, Buddhism is one of the four religions which are traditional for our country.
The time has come for the construction of a Buddhist temple in Moscow, the capital of multinational and multi-confessional Russia. Moscow Buddhist Society became the initiator of this construction being important for the whole country. The implementation of this project by the Society – the construction of the first Buddhist temple complex in the capital – is fully supported by the Moscow Government.
The Buddhist temple in Moscow will be a native home for all Russian Buddhists, regardless of their nationality and lines of spiritual succession. The reality of our time is the growth in the number of followers of Buddhism, and not only among inhabitants of the regions of its traditional spreading. There are many people in Moscow communities who came to Buddhism at a conscious age, regardless of the nationality and religious affiliation of their families.
The Russian Constitution proclaims freedom of religions as an inalienable right of Russian citizens. The Buddhist temple in Moscow will serve to fulfill this constitutional provision.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, blessing the construction of the Moscow temple, gave it the name “Tubden Shedubling” (Tib. ཐུབ་བསྟན་ཆོས་འགྲུབ་གླིང་།), which literally means “The Garden for the study of Buddhist philosophy and morality”, and emphasized that the temple should unite all groups of Buddhism, be a place for the study of Buddhist philosophy and morality. His Holiness added that the temple should also be a secular center where one can gain knowledge on the Buddha’s Teachings.
Moscow Buddhist Society declares:
1) Schools of Mahayana Buddhism that have historically spread in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, Mongolia, Tibet, the most diverse groups of Far Eastern Buddhism and South Asian Theravada Buddhism – all traditions can and should be represented in the life of the future Moscow temple to the extent that they are developed in our country and its capital.
The need for a non-cult nature of the future temple is also determined by the presence in Moscow of diplomatic and other representative offices of Russia-friendly countries where Buddhism is widespread. The temple is intended to become a meeting place, cooperation of various Buddhist schools for the benefit of Russia, strengthening peace and harmony throughout the world.
2) Responding to all the traditional religious needs of Russian Buddhists, the temple will not be limited to one or another line or school of Buddhism. Regulations of the temple life, its interior decoration, etc. should be consistent with all schools of Buddhism. There is no intention of creating any monastic community at the temple. Any legally registered Buddhist community will be able to operate within the temple space.
3) Thanks to the temple, Buddhism in Moscow will play its positive role more fully and brighter, strengthening the spirit of peace and mutual understanding between different cultures, religious and social groups. Orthodoxy, which plays a special place in the history of Russia, in the formation and development of its spirituality and culture, does not conflict with moral and spiritual norms of Buddhism, and the cooperation of religious associations of followers of these religions makes a special contribution to the national identity of Russian people. For Buddhists in Moscow, interaction with Islamic, Jewish, and other religious associations is also very important. All the activities of the temple will be aimed at the development of high morality and spiritual culture of parishioners, which will help many people avoid falling under the influence of destructive and totalitarian sects and pseudo-religious cults.
4) Prayers, rituals, retreats with teachers, meditative practices – all the ceremonial activities of the temple, in essence, are a way of moral and spiritual improvement of a person. Comprehension of a role of the Buddha’s Teaching in the changing circumstances of modern life, mastering the spiritual values and social concept of Russian Buddhism, a free and responsible choice of one’s unique path – these and other topical issues are important and necessary components of the temple’s activities.
5) The temple will also be a center of socio-cultural, research, publishing activities of Moscow Buddhists, a center for disseminating knowledge on the history and modernity of Buddhism, understanding its role in the multipolar world, in the interfaith and ecumenical dialogue.
6) All the fullness of creative manifestation of Buddhists and friends of Buddhist culture – exhibitions, conferences, festivals, concerts – are welcome guests of the temple complex.
7) Let the Buddhist values and traditions recognized by all, mutual respect and spiritual tolerance, be illuminated by the temple light. Charitable and educational projects planned for their implementation will help the temple become an integral part of the multicultural space of Moscow and the whole country, become a school for patriotic and spiritual education of youth.
The Buddhist temple in Moscow will actually become a real center of the dialogue of cultures for the benefit of the future of Russia.