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March 7, 2006 > Buddhist relics visit Fremont

Buddhist relics visit Fremont

by Mona Shah

The essence of Buddha is at the core of the Heart Shrine Relic Tour. His teachings of peace, love and kindness have profoundly affected millions of people. This exhibition of pearl-like objects, venerated as the remains of Buddhist masters and saints, include those of Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha who became enlightened under a tree at Bodhgaya in India, opens in Fremont Friday, March 10. It will allow free access to view these remarkable relics within their glass cases.

The remains, which look like pearls or crystals, are part of a collection unprecedented in size and for the first time, on tour available for public viewing. It is believed that these remnants are deliberately produced by the master at his death. All over the world, these relics found in the slow-burning funeral pyres of Buddhist monks have been enshrined in temples, cathedrals and monasteries. They are thought to embody the masters' spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom.

Visitors often report experiences of inspiration and healing in the presence of the relics. Some are inspired to pray for world peace while others are overcome by emotion. Viewers can have the objects placed on the crown of their head for a special blessing. "It's like being there with the actual person; as if Shakyamuni Buddha was with us today and we were standing in his presence. You would feel the same peace, the same calm," says Allan Bowman, coordinator of the exhibit.

The tour is organized by Tibetan monk, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of the Maitreya Project. Initiated in 2001, it is intended to end with the relics enshrined in the Heart Shrine of a huge, 500-foot tall bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha devoted to "loving kindness," in Kushinagar, in the state of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. Maitreya is the name of the expected next Buddha, coming from the Sanskrit word 'maitri' meaning 'love'. The tour and yet-to-be funded $195 million statue are part of the Maitreya project.

Lama Rinpoche spoke at the beginning of the tour in Taipei, Taiwan and said, "It is a great purification for our mind to see these relics. The teachings say that by circumambulating, prostrating and making offerings, you gain far more merit than by simply viewing a holy object. These teachings apply not just to statues of the Buddha, but equally, to these relics."

For more information visit www.maitreyaproject.org.

Buddhist Relics
Friday, March 10
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Willits Center
3755 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(925) 755-1136
(510) 979-5600- Willits Center

 
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