Maui Huelo Stupa
copyright "kaua" MHS 2005
In June of 1976 Gyaltrul Rinpoche was invited for a visit on Maui. While he was here he asked if he could build a stupa and permission was granted for this project by the owners of private land in Huelo. Huelo is an area of Maui located on the north shore about 18 miles east of the airport. Rinpoche attracted Dharma students, including Sangye Khandro, and he asked these students to participate in building a stupa. They agreed and so it was under Rinpoche's direction that the stupa was begun.
In August 1976 the site was chosen, leveled and prayer flags were flown. Rinpoche helped gather ocean rock for the base of the stupa. A lath and plaster structure was constructed with plaster applied over a wooden frame. The students worked tirelessly for the next three months to finish it. It was completed in November of 1976 just in time for its dedication.
The Maui Huelo Stupa is situated on a beautiful knoll facing directly east with the ocean on the north side and Haleakala crater on the south. It is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava.
On November 15, 1976 His Holiness the 16th Karmapa visited Maui and while he was here he performed rites and a ceremony to formerly dedicate the stupa. He arrived at the site from a hill above the stupa walking down a long path with 4 monks on either side of him blowing konling horns. A large silk umbrella covered him, carried by another monk, as he proceeded to the stupa.
From 1976 to the present the stupa has been open to visitors and many lamas and dharma students have visited the stupa. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyaltso Rinpoche danced around the stupa singing dharma songs. Lama Tenzin gave several teachings and students were invited. Tulku Thupten Rinpoche buried 4 treasure vases, and Lama Gyaltsen has given fire pujas. Many lamas have given their blessings. There have also been weddings, funerals and small gatherings. All who know about the stupa feel that it is a great blessing to the community and are inspired by its presence in its splendid environment.
In 1999 it became clear that the stupa was deteriorating. One day the step above the throne buckled and caved in. This was a very serious event. It was evident that if the stupa were to survive it would need major repair. The original construction was built of lath and plaster. Over time this type of construction did not hold up. The tropical climate of wind, rain, sun and ocean air took its toll. It was determined that it would need to be partially rebuilt in cement.
The Dharma community here on Maui rallied by raising funds and with a small crew and very hard work rebuilt the stupa during the next two years. The metal door frame and the bhumi were ordered from Tibet and then these pieces were hand delivered to Maui. The final presentation of all the parts of the stupa was presided over by Lama Rinchen. He assembled and brought all the ritual ingredients such as tsa tsas, Dharma books, statues, and offerings that go inside and which are essential for empowering the stupa. Lama Tarchin Rinpoche contributed a new Guru Rinpoche to reside permanently in the gau box. This restoration was completed in August 2001.
We were pleased and honored to have Gyaltrul Rinpoche revisit Maui and the stupa in the spring of 2003 and give the Maui dharma community and the Maui's Huelo Stupa his blessings.
There is a core group of dharma students who have been the ongoing primary participants and contributors to the building, restoration and management of Maui's Huelo Stupa. Their stories will be added to the site in a kind of patchwork presentation by historical date. Pictures will also be included.
There are also many other dharma students and friends of the stupa who have contributed a great deal in time and funds to this splendid site.
The following is a list of the lamas who have visited Maui Huelo Stupa:
His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa
3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche
Khabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche
Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche
Yangsi Nechung Rinpoche
Thupten Kalsang Rahob Rinpoche
Lama Tharchin Rinpoche
Tulku Thupten Rinpoche
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche
Khenpo Orgyen Thinley Rinpoche
Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche
Tulku Zangpo Rinpoche
Yantang Tulku Rinpoche
Tulku Lama Lawa
The All Good Lama Tenzin
Lama Yeshe Wangmo
The following were major participants in creating the stupa but are no longer living.
"I built a Shakyamuni statue in Massachusetts the size of a human being and also a stupa out of wood with the help of some dharma friends. Then Ann (DeWeese) and Phil Gronquist invited me to Hawaii and after staying there at their lovely place close to the ocean on a cliff I decided it was a perfect place to build a stupa. At first I had hoped that the stupa could be very large but they checked and we were told that it had to be a much smaller size so we decided to go ahead with the stupa. My cousin, Thubten Kalsang (Rahob Rinpoche) was in Hawaii at the time and so together we performed the ground-breaking ceremony.
When we were ready to build, some students showed up to help, especially a guy named Yasha (James Marshall). Thubten Kalsang Rinpoche helped with everything including the inner consecration for the stupa. As you know a stupa must be filled with many sacred substances and according to tradition we were able to place many very sacred substances inside. Here is a list of what I know for sure went inside this stupa:
We were able to complete the stupa just before His Holiness the Karmapa came to Hawaii, but then I suddenly fell sick in Honolulu and had to have an emergency surgery. His Holiness was there and he actually was so kind to come to the hospital and bless me before I went in to the surgery. Later he came again when I was recovering and promised to perform the consecration when he went to Maui. I was unable to go and join due to recovering from the surgery.
While they were on Maui, His Holiness Karmapa and Jamgon
Kongtrul Rinpoche performed the consecration of the stupa and many
children came so they could receive their blessings at the same
Later when Kalu Rinpoche came to Maui he also blessed and
consecrated the stupa and remarked that the proportions were very
"In 1976 a dear friend, John Harvey, offered me a spot on
his new Huelo land. After looking the length and breadth of
his twelve acres, I found a Java plum tree favorably located on a
slope just above a small pool of the Honokala Stream that flowed
down through the land to the ocean. I approached my closest
neighbor Gyatrul Rinpoche who happily came and blessed the
tree. Having quickly constructed a simple platform that
stepped off the slope into the spreading branches of the tree with
a butterfly wing roof of green phylon lightly suspended
above. Rinpoche returned to bless my new home. He was
most impressed with the door that opened onto the platform with no
walls, no windows, no screen, just the babbling brook and sweet
pool below. We had tea, a twenty-minute nap, then Rinpoche
sat up, pronounced, "Very good?" and ran home.
Since I was a devotee of the Hindu path at the time and carried the name Krishna Ram, at the completion of the basic stupa (of which, of course, many people had helped with), Rinpoche, with a big grin, pointed at himself, then Yasha and toward me and said, "This is a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu Stupa!"
Jeff Munoz, May 2008
"The first time I visited the Huelo Stupa on Maui, Hawaii was in December 1981 when I translated for the late Venerable Lama Tenzin about the meaning of stupas.
I was particularly surprised at the location of the stupa as it
was so beautifully and remotely tucked away in the tropical forest
of Huelo. So this was the genesis, the center of mandala from
which the dharma on Maui would develop.
Georgiana Cook, May 2008
"In the early part of 1978, I moved to a remote ridge on
Maui's north shore. At the time there were no road
signs and no visible houses in the area. The only thing we
could see, other than trees, was a small white structure on top of
a ridge to the west of us. Being curious, I headed out on a
walk one day to find it. There were several small paths off
of the main dirt road with a few simple cottages tucked in the
trees. I picked a path which eventually lead me to the point
with the stupa on it. I was awed by its white symmetry, gold
rings, and handmade tiles around the base. The Buddha sitting
on the largest shelf seemed immanent serenity . The view of the
ocean and mountain vistas was expansive. I remember sitting
on a bench for a couple of hours, filled with a sense of gratitude,
and I wondered what it was and who put it there. This was the
first of many dharma experiences and connection to the Huelo Stupa
The first step was to save the bhumpa (bell) by cutting holes, inserting beams under it, and jacking it back up to its original position. With the beams secured, I was able to take the center selves apart. We retrieved several jars of treasures and in case we missed anything, we put all of the removed pieces of wood and cement back inside the bottom of the stupa and built a solid rebar reinforced cement box around it as a new foundation for the upper shelves.
At this point Jeff Munoz starting coming down from Kanaio to help. Jeff worked on the original stupa and had built the Kanaio stupa and temple so he had much more knowledge about the protocol and inner parts of the upper stupa, the center cedar post, the placement of the mandala, the gau, etc.
(Left: Lama Rinchen, Rick Bickford and Jeff Munoz putting the ornaments on the Stupa)
Blessings to all,
After the stupa was reconstructed, the grounds around it were in need of serious repair. When Lama Tharchin Rinpoche visited Maui in 2002 I asked him how he thought the grounds should be finished. He made a very simple sketch of a mandala pattern. I had that pattern put down in wood knowing it wouldn't last. It did, however, establish a finished look that everyone liked.
When Rick suggested the cement curbing we knew that was the right direction to go. It was another major effort but when it was completed, we knew we had accomplished our finished goal. The lawn took time to establish, of course, but the entire new look is very pleasing.
Ann DeWeese, July 2011
The builders of the Huelo Stupa in 1976 were:
All text and photographs copyright Maui Huelo Stupa 2008