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A look inside the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour

Buddha’s relics come to Charlottesville to promote compassion, peace and loving kindness

The Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour came to downtown Charlottesville to share the ancient and sacred relics of Buddhist tradition Oct. 24-26. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama offered the tour the relics of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, which are more than 2,600 years old, as well as relics of more than 40 different Buddhist masters. The tour has traveled through 68 countries and was open to people of all spiritual practices.

More than 1,500 members of the Charlottesville community came to visit the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour during its stay.

The relics themselves are formed in the cremation process of high Buddhist masters. After a master or high lama has been cremated, beautiful pearl-like crystals, called “ringsels” in Tibetan, are found in the remains. These crystals are believed to be physical objects symbolic of the power of Buddhist meditation and life. Buddhists believe the relics are manifested from the cellular changes in the body from practicing compassion, loving kindness, wisdom and patience — carrying the energy, life and consciousness of the masters.

In addition to seeing the holy relics, visitors of the tour could turn prayer wheels for purification, ring bells to promote peace or read the Sutra of Golden Light to experience comfort and happiness. At the conclusion of the exhibit, visitors could also participate in a blessing ceremony, in which Tibetan monks gently placed the Buddhist relics on the visitor’s head for a personal blessing.

Leena Rose Miller, host of the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, said her love for the tour grew into a deep passion to organize the community for a shared interpersonal experience.

“The most moving aspect of the tour is being able to see and feel the effect of the relics on the community,” Miller said.

Some are moved to pray for world peace, compassion or loving kindness, and others report experiences of healing and overwhelming emotion, she said.

Amanda Karg, the traveling manager and curator for the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, said she also works to create a unifying experience for the community. She said she believes the focus of the exhibit is less on Buddhism and more on promoting interfaith and intercultural experiences.

“It is for people of all spiritual practices to come together and recognize the similar core values all religions have,” Karg said. 

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