Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour Comes to Saskatoon, August 1–3
by Victoria Coleman, Tour Director
An unusual tour, offering free public events in cities all over the world where the relics of the historical Buddha are displayed, will visit Saskatoon during the weekend of 1, 2 & 3 August 2014.
“The very name ‘Maitri,’ that’s loving-kindness. Now in today’s world, we really need the promotion of Maitreya, Maitri, loving kindness.”— His Holiness the Dalai Lama
What are Relics?
When we think of relics, we might think of something dead, inanimate, and maybe not very appealing, such as clothing, bones, or tooth fragments. But, that is not what these relics are. When a spiritual master is cremated, beautiful, pearl-like crystals are found among their ashes.
Tibetans call these Ringsel and in Sanskrit they are known as Sarira. These Ringsel are special because they hold the essence of the qualities of the spiritual master. His inner purity appears as in the form of relics. True spiritual teachers do not generally discuss their own attainments. The relics are physical evidence that the teacher attained qualities of compassion and wisdom before death.
What we have witnessed during 770 public events, spanning six continents in 68 countries, is that this blessing is experienced not just by those who believe in the Buddha’s teachings. It is universal. This is why we describe tour events as non-sectarian. Of course, the events are open to everyone to attend regardless of their spiritual background, but also the nature of the blessing experienced appears to transcend religious beliefs.
I was skeptical going into it, but I’m a curious person and kept an open mind. I left there amazed. It’s hard to put into words, but the energy was very powerful. …My friend who was with me, and who doesn’t believe in anything, was blown away.—Ben Easter, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, 2012
The relics are clearly visible inside custom-made display cases that encircle a life-size, golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha. According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha to bring teachings of loving-kindness to the world.
Ten years ago in India, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama offered eight relics of Shakyamuni Buddha to Lama Zopa Rinpoche for the collection. Relics have also been offered from the Sakya Reliquary in Tibet and also from Meiktila Museum in Burma that has housed Buddha Relics for many hundreds of years.
When I first joined the tour in May 2001, I definitely had doubts. In June 2001, it was suggested to me that it would be wise to compile a photographic inventory of the collection. So, I arranged to have photographs taken of every relic by a professional photographer.
During the photoshoot, there were two relics of Kasyapa Buddha in one of the containers. One month later, I noticed that this same container had five relics inside it. I was sure I had made a mistake. But when I checked the photograph, it revealed only two relics. Therefore three additional relics had been birthed from the original two. As the sole custodian of these containers, I knew that I had not added more relics to the container. I was mystified and somewhat alarmed by this inexplicable turn of events.
I asked Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of the tour, about this apparent multiplication and he explained that it was due to the actions and attitude of the visitors at events; their minds of faith and devotion had resulted in more relics appearing. Not likely, I thought. A few months later, the relics of the Buddha’s main disciple, Ananda, also multiplied and even changed colour.
Subsequent managers placed in charge of the custody of the touring relics have reported regular changes in colour, shape, size, and number of relics. The inventory of relics is now updated every three months to keep up with these changes.
How Visitors Respond to the Relics
Visitors may participate in a Blessing Ceremony where the relics of the Buddha are gently placed on the crown of the visitor’s head for a personal blessing. Pets may also receive a blessing.
“The energy and atmosphere built from there into a most peaceful day, people were overwhelmed by the presence of the relics at times, with many moved to tears, as Siliana and I did the blessings. I had one big hulk of a man who said, “Never done anything like this before.” I got him to kneel down and feel the peace and light fill his heart and body. When he looked up, his eyes were full of tears as he said, “Never expected that!”—Venerable Rinchen, Cairns, Australia, 2012
During the event, visitors may offer water to bathe the Buddha, while visualizing their surroundings as pure and reciting a prayer of purification. They can choose to write a few lines of the Sanghata Sutra (sacred text of Buddha’s teachings) in gold ink. Or they can read some pages of the Sutra of Golden Light. Recitation of this sutra is said to protect against wars and violence, as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones, fires, and tornadoes.
Over the past decade, those who travel with the relics have begun to realize that it doesn’t matter what religious or spiritual background visitors have, all are affected in some positive way. Relic Manager Amanda Russell said, “Nearly everyone reports some kind of change or shift, whether it is releasing physical or emotional pain or experiencing a profound sense of peace.”
Tour events are both multi-faith and multi-cultural, bringing communities together in harmony. The opening ceremony at each event has been a wonderful way for people of all different backgrounds and faiths to share their common values and pray for world peace.
The relics will be displayed at Yoga Republic in Saskatoon, during 1, 2 & 3 August 2014 at the following times: Friday, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Opening Ceremony followed by relic viewing; Saturday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm; and Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more details, contact Lorrel Elian, email: email@example.com or phone: 306-220-6626.
Victoria Coleman joined the Tour in March 2001, after leaving her career as a corporate lawyer in London, England. Her devotion to Lama Zopa Rinpoche has been the energy propelling her through the incredible journey that is the Relic Tour. She is inspired every day by the generosity of many kind people around the world who make relic events happen. She feels privileged to be part of the Tour team and is humbled by the qualities of the many organizers, volunteers, and donors who keep the relics continually touring the world. For more details, visit www.MaitreyaRelicTour.com.