Friday, May 25, 2012

The Power of Relics

The Maitreya Project--Heart Shrine Relic Tour came to my home town in late 2011.  I was responsible for coordinating volunteers to perform various duties during the tour such as guarding the relics, assisting visitors to bathe the baby Buddha and receive a blessing.  This ended up to be a much bigger job than expected since it required coordinating the activities of approximately 60 volunteers over an entire weekend.

I have to admit that I did not understand what a relic even was prior to the tour.  I volunteered as an opportunity to get to know fellow sangha members and give back to a place that has been good to me. 

A relic is a religious object.  In the case of the Heart Shrine Relic Tour, the relics included personal items of the Dalia Lama himself, blood relics of various Buddhist spiritual masters, and those of the Buddhas.  When the bodies were cremated, crystals popped up in their ashes like popcorn. The crystals are put on display in different containers—these are the relics.

Many Buddhist believe the relics hold a special power or energy which transmit blessings or spiritual energy directly to all visitors.  I have to admit to being pretty skeptical of the power and energy of the relics at the beginning.  I never considered myself religious and rituals all seemed like a bunch of hocus pocus to me. 

The nuns in charge of the tour helped coordinate the setup.  The chapel was sealed off when they removed the relics to place them in the display case.  They even suited up with gloves and wore surgical masks.  A large table was set up with display cases which would hold the relics.  Displayed in the center of the table were golden Maitreya statues of various sizes.  The volunteers were allowed to place personal Buddhas on the table so they could absorb energy from the relics.  I added my little brass Buddha to the display table just for grins.  Who was I to turn down the possibility of obtaining some good juju!

Over the weekend, I watch visitors from all walks of life enter the chapel where the relics were displayed.  Some were like me and did not know what the in heck they were looking at. There were others that became mesmerized by the so called power of the relics.  There was a Korean man and woman I watch perform prostrations in front of the relics.  There were even visitors which returned for a second visit and blessing over the course of the weekend.  Some cried.  Many bowed before the relics.

There was one couple from a neighboring state that stayed for the entire length of the tour.  The woman claimed to be able to feel and transmit the power of the relics from her body.  I watched when she approached the relics.  As she rang tiny bells that were on display by the relics, her eyes began to flutter and roll back in her head.  

Each visitor was touched in a unique way.  Eventually, even I was touched.

On the last day of the tour, I found myself sobbing out of nowhere and left the chapel to gain composure.  They were happy tears like the kind that come when watching the end to a lovely movie.  I was overwhelmed with the energy, compassion, kindness and love in the room.  To top it off, the thought that I was able to put skills to use that I use every day in the corporate world to help support this wonderful experience made me beam from my heart outward. 

Do the relics really transmit energy?  I think there are people that believe they do.  For me, the wonderful transformative energy was coming from the visitors of the relics, and the powerful energy from my sangha who worked together to help create the experience for others.

The tiny brass Buddha that sat with the relics is now sitting on my fireplace mantel.  Our family is convinced the little Buddha is radiating love, kindness and compassion into our home.  

This is the true power of the relics. 

May you be happy.

"The aim of Maitreya Project is to bring long-term social and economic benefit to millions of people in northern India and sustained spiritual benefit to the world community."  For information on the Maitreya Project and Heart Shrine Relic Tour go to

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