WHAT: Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, a free public exhibition of ancient relics of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and many other Buddhist masters. The opening ceremony will be led by Hun Lye.
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 31, 6-8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
WHERE: The Venue, 21 N. Market St., Asheville
WHY: Most of the relics in this collection resemble pearl-like crystals called “ringsel” in Tibetan or “sarira” in Sanskrit. They’re believed by Buddhists to embody the master’s spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom and to have been deliberately produced by the master at his death to be recovered in his ashes. The tour includes relics donated by several worldwide institutions, as well as eight relics of the historical Buddha offered by the Dalai Lama. Xpress discussed the tour with publicity manager Michael Fouts:
Xpress: What will happen during the Children’s Blessing?
Michael Fouts: The relics of the Buddha will be placed inside of a small handheld stupa (Sanskrit for a mound-like or hemispheric structure for containing Buddhist relics). This stupa will then be placed gently against the crown of each child’s head while a prayer will be said for the child and for all people in the world to be released from all suffering and for them to find true happiness.
When was this type of tour — where relics are dispatched from monastic seclusion — first introduced? Is there a particular reason why this type of tour is important at this particular time in world history?
This tour is the first known type for relics of the Buddha, and it was first conceived by our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2000. Lama Zopa collected the relics over a period of many years. [He] realized that most relics are enshrined in a stupa in Eastern Asia and, as such, Westerners do not often get the chance to see any, let alone see [all] 3,000. Lama Zopa along with his Holiness the Dalai Lama decided to have the relics tour around the world giving everyone a chance to see and experience their blessings.
It is now more important than ever that these relics are touring, as we are in such uncertain times and the Buddha Relic exhibition gives people refuge from the storm, so to say, where they can connect with real peace and love.