What happens to beings on their way to enlightenment when they die? Devotees and people who were just curious came to see at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center last weekend in Santa Fe. Relics from the Buddha and several more Buddhist masters were on display for visitors of The Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour.
An adobe church, with giant wooden doors held within its walls an array of Buddhist treasures. A golden statue of Maitreya, a future enlightened being, sat tall in the middle of an altar draped in: gold, red, blue, green, and yellow fabrics. A golden parasol hovered over him. Visitors followed a circular route among the ancient relics on display.
A set of small glass bowls with small piles of bead-like objects called ringsels were the main attraction at the exhibit. Buddhist tradition say that these ringsels are found among great Buddhists’ cremation ashes, and that they encapsulate and embody their spiritual realizations.
"You can think of how a diamond is created. Its carbon when compressed the same thing with these relics except for it’s coming from the conscious mind," said Amanda Russell.
Russell is one of the relics’ keepers. She travels all over North America exhibiting the sacred items. "You or I wouldn’t have ringsels,'' Russell added. "We wouldn’t be cremated and you wouldn’t find these little gems inside our ashes. These come from highly conscious beings."
Geshe Thubten Sherab is with Thubten Norbu Ling Buddhist Center in Santa Fe. He says he believes having the relics in any part of the world brings good energy for peace, and inspires love and compassion in people.
The relics have been viewed by 1.8 million people, and have traveled to 67 different countries. The display has drawn crowds' attention from all over the world, and kept many visitors coming back to be in their presence.
Visitors in Santa Fe bowed and chanted as they viewed the sacred items. Others simply cried from emotion. Geshe Sherab explained, "I see some people when they have the blessing or when they see the relics tears comes and they just… cries."
Is there any scientific explanation for the sensations or emotions that the relics give off to others you might wonder?
Dr. William Tiller and Dr. Nisha Manek two researchers from Stanford University have studied the space around these relics and how the space is changed by their presence. They used electrical devices to soak up and then measure energy from the relics. They found that the tiny ringsels, along with other relics on the tour, create the same kind of energy levels as well known places of worship like high cathedrals.
"I don’t know exactly what’s going on in their minds… but it seems something has been touched, and I see that quite often," said Geshe Sherab.
After the US tour ends in Palm Springs, California, The Loving Kindness Tour will head south for a tour of Mexico.