By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Buddhist Relics Promote Loving Kindness

June 12, 2014, Ventura County Star

The Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, featuring relics from Buddhist masters, aims to promote peace, love and compassion when it comes to Ventura as part of a national tour.

Amanda Russell, manager of the North American Relic Tour, said the relics bring universal virtues.

“This we can all relate to,” she said.

For the next seven months, the tour will travel throughout the United States and Canada, with a stop at the Ventura Buddhist Center at An Lac Mission from Friday to Sunday.

The center hosted the relic tour in 2005 and 2008, drawing tens of thousands of visitors, said Sutadhara Tapovanaye, center director. The display includes relics from those who brought the teachings of Buddha into Tibet.

“Relics are the embodiment of enlightened beings. This makes us more focused on the Buddha who was a human,” Tapovanaye said.

The relics inspire people and establish confidence to practice the teachings of Buddha, he said.

“When someone is in the presence of relics, they experience the peace and happiness by replacing negative thoughts with kindness, generosity, love and equanimity, which replace the negative thoughts,” Tapovanaye said.

This is a rare viewing opportunity, said Russell, adding that relics from this particular tradition usually are enshrined into a special monument called a stupa, or sacred burial site, only allowed to be viewed by higher-ranking masters of hierarchy.

“Because of the kindness of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, the lama in which this collection belongs, these relics have been able to be displayed all over the world for millions of people to see,” Russell said.

The relics look like little pearl-like crystals, all different shapes and colors, some dating back more than 2,600 years.

Tour organizers say the relics are formed during the cremation of a great master and are said to hold the qualities of their enlightened mind.

“Throughout their lives, they spend thousands of hours in meditation. This focus and concentration helps to develop the subtlest parts of consciousness,” Russell said. “Today in science, we know that there are subtle changes in the cellular structural and functional aspect of these great meditators’ minds. Their brains are different than ours.”

Through the cremation process, the fire element hits the body, and any cellular changes made through the development of mind crystallize, forming the relics, Russell said.

“That is why it is said that the spiritual attainment is encapsulated in the relics. The energy is part of the enlightened mind — the mind of unconditional loving kindness, forgiveness and great wisdom,” she said.

The entire collection represents 46 great masters and totals more than 3,000 relics.

“We even have relics of the great master Guru Padmasambhava, who was an eighth-century master, said to be the great sage responsible for bringing the teachings of Buddha into Tibet,” Russell said.

The exhibit helps people around the world examine the potentiality of a kinder mind and heart, she said.

“Regardless of religion, people everywhere can relate to love, kindness, compassion, happiness and peace,” Russell said.

“The great masters ... of all time have a pure quality of unconditional love and these relics emanate this with amazing energy.”

The relics inspire those who see them to become better human beings,” really helping us in opening our hearts,” she said.

The free tour will be from 6-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Buddhist center, 901 S. Saticoy Ave., Ventura. Visit http://www.maitreyalovingkindnesstour.com for more information.

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