Relics on Tour
The Heart Shrine Relic Tour [is] an exhibition of more than 1,000 relics from twenty great Buddhist masters, including Shakyamuni Buddha himself, which is touring the world over the next several years as a way to bring blessings and inspire faith in people. It is also a way to publicize the 500-foot Maitreya statue and development being built in northern India because the relics will eventually be enshrined at the heart of the Maitreya Buddha statue…
… Since March 2001, when the collection first started touring the world beginning in Taipei, Taiwan, thousands have had the opportunity to see the relics. And over the next several years, as the exhibition transverses the globe, before it is permanently enshrined in the Maitreya statue in 2006, tens of thousands more people will pray, prostrate, and make offerings to the relics…
The tour organizers say the relics themselves are responding to this sea of faith in an unprecedented way: the relics are spontaneously multiplying. This is an auspicious result of the devotion being shown, and whether or not you believe, the relics themselves also contain so much energy that they can transform people’s lives, organizers say.
“The Buddha Shakyamuni had such compassion for beings that, knowing that so many people wouldn’t actually see his holy body after he passed into nirvana, he regenerated it in the form of relics,” explains tour manager Victoria Ewart. “By paying respect to relics we create good karma — the merit to achieve enlightenment. So we encourage people to make offerings, prostrate, and circumambulate the relics.
“What began as a monumental act of kindness of Lama Zopa Rinpoche has gradually evolved into an interfaith event that reminds us of our basic human qualities — compassion, tolerance towards others and having a good heart.”
Relics are tiny crystalline and pearl-like substances (ringsel) found in the ashes of highly realized masters’ cremated remains. It is believed that the purity of the masters’ minds and bodies create these ringsel, which remind us of the high consciousness of the masters, even after death.
Historically, relics are protected in temples and shrines. When many Tibetans fled their country due to Chinese invasion in the 1950s, the lamas, including Lama Zopa Rinpoche, salvaged sacred relics from the desecrated monasteries, stupas and statues.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is fulfilling the life dream of his teacher Lama Yeshe by building a Maitreya Buddha statue. His collection of relics will be placed in its heart-shrine as a way to bless its visitors. Inspired by this vision, His Holiness the Dalai Lama contributed relics of the Shakyamuni Buddha from his personal collection. Others soon followed.
The idea for the relics to tour the world came from a Malaysian student, who suggested a public exhibition of the relics as a way to publicize the Maitreya Project. Thus, the Heart-Shrine Relic Tour was born. Victoria was appointed tour manager in June 2001 for the exhibition in Auckland, New Zealand.
The organizers say the historical timing is significant. In the wake of the September 11 attack, wars, and economic uncertainty, the relics offer a cause for world peace…
“Maitreya symbolizes loving kindness — love, compassion, tolerance for others,” says Victoria. “Once you generate that in your heart, the result is peace in your own heart, and peace for others. Loving kindness is the cause and peace is the result …
For information about upcoming Heart-Shrine Relic Shows, or to organize one in your area, contact email@example.com or visit www.maitreyaproject.org for the full calendar of upcoming shows.