Williams Lake will be one of only two cities in B.C. hosting a world tour of ancient and sacred Buddhist relics from around the world this summer.
The exhibition which, originates in London, England and is stopping in Vancouver and Williams Lake Aug. 14-16 before heading to Regina, Saskatchewan, says Colleen O’Neill, Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre director.
“We are very excited and honoured to be hosting this relic tour in Williams Lake,” O’Neill says.
The exhibition will be housed in the cafeteria at Thompson Rivers University with opening ceremonies on the Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. and viewing again Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
O’Neill says Mayor Walt Cobb and Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre’s Ven. Tenzin Chogky will provide opening remarks Friday evening.
The Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour is an exhibition of ancient and sacred relics from the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and 44 other Buddhist masters from Tibet, India and China.
The purpose of the tour is to share the sacred relics to create community gatherings focused on loving kindness and openness with the goal of fostering local and global harmony.
“Nearly everyone reports some kind of change or shift, whether it is releasing physical or emotional pain or experiencing a profound sense of peace,” said tour manager Amanda Russell, in the release announcing the visit.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche founded the tour in 2001 when he put his own collection of relics on tour with contributions from others. Since then the exhibition has visited 68 countries and been viewed by 2.5 million people.
In all there are 3,000 relics in the collection including those offered to the tour by His Holiness the Dalai Lama which are more than 2,600 years old, a collection from the Sakya Reliquary in Tibet, and also from Meiktila Museum in Burma.
Most of the relics in this collection resemble multi-coloured pearl-like crystals that in Tibetan are called ‘ringsel’ and in Sanskrit they are known as ‘Sarira.’
It is believed that relics embody the master’s spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom and are deliberately produced by the master at his death.
The crystal relics were found among the cremation ashes of these masters.
“When these individuals were alive, they were practicing universal values, like for example, unconditional love, compassion, patience. Those qualities don’t belong to any one kind of religion. It is universal,” said Thubten Norbu, a Buddhist nun and one of the tour managers.
“So, the relics are really the manifestation of love and kindness and compassion. That is the real meaning.”
A previous tour host Kevin Thoren agrees: “It’s important for people to realize that loving kindness is the foundation of most all religions. So even though it’s a Buddhist exhibit, it goes beyond any specific religious philosophy and gets at what’s important.”
For more information on the tour go to www.MaitreyaLovingKindnessTour.com.
For more information on the Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre contact Colleen O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (778) 412 7780.