A free exhibition of ancient and sacred relics of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and 44 other Buddhist masters from India, Tibet & China is currently touring the world. Organized by the Maitreya Loving Kindness Project, coordinated in Minneapolis by local sponsors and hosted by Intelligent Nutrients Gallery, this unique exhibit is a rare opportunity to experience relics in person.
The exhibit will be on display at Intelligent Nutrients Gallery, 983 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, on September 18-20. Also, the exhibit will feature a special collection of Tibetan Buddhist art (including rarely seen examples of the Himalayan tsa-tsa art form) from a private local collection.
In all there are 3,000 relics in this collection, including those offered to the tour by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that 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-colored, pearl-like crystals that in Tibetan are called “ringsel” and in Sanskrit 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. The beauty of the reliquary objects is experienced on a number of levels, including the cultural, spiritual and artistic.
“When these individuals were alive, they were practicing universal values, 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, kindness and compassion. That is the real meaning.”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche founded the tour in 2001 when he put his own collection of relics on tour with contributions from others, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tour has visited 68 countries and 2.5 million people have viewed the relics to date.
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.
“This exhibit is a beautiful opportunity to reflect on loving kindness as a universal human value, and to see that all spiritual traditions emphasize compassion and harmony. The relics are inspirational reminders of these values from highly realized masters. The exhibit is a non-sectarian event, celebrating the universal human potential for spiritual attainment, peace, and harmony,” said Minneapolis tour host Nancy Dadak.
Tour Manager Amanda Russell says, “Nearly everyone reports some kind of change or shift, whether it is releasing physical or emotional pain or experiencing a profound sense of peace.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Public exhibit hours: September 18: 6-8 p.m., opening ceremony followed by relic viewing; September 19: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., relic viewing; and September 20: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., relic viewing.
During exhibit hours Saturday and Sunday, the Tibetan Buddhist Monks of Gyuto Wheel of Dharma Monastery will offer ritual blessings to exhibit guests who wish it, with a relic touched to the crown of the head. Pet blessings will be offered Saturday, 4-6 p.m., and Sunday, 1-3 p.m. , for leashed or kenneled small domestic pets such as cats and dogs, or other gentle creatures.