Buddha leaves spiritual connection

by Venerable Chanhan Ouk, The Washington Times, November 6, 2006

This talk was given recently by Venerable Chanhan Ouk, abbot of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Silver Spring, MD (USA) -- Homage to the Exalted One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One.

What is the meaning of paying respect to Buddha's relics? In our society, parents who do good deeds deserve gratitude from their sons and daughters. Teachers who try their best for their students are the greatest teachers. Kings or presidents or any leaders who truly love and develop their country deserve respect from their population.

The Buddha possesses the greatest purity, the intellect, power, compassion and wisdom. Those who spread his teachings and loving kindness to all beings, without prejudice to race, national origin or color of skin, deserve profound gratitude from all beings. Buddha's teaching provides training to human beings to do good in their actions, speech and minds for the well-being of all people during this life and their next life.

There are five symbols of Buddhism deserving Buddhists' respect. Those five symbols are: Buddha's statue, the Buddha image, the bodhi tree, a Buddhist book called Tripitaka and Buddha's remains.

To the Buddhists, the remains of their ancestors are precious and inviolable. If they are the relics of their spiritual masters, they are very holy. Furthermore, if they are those of the Buddha or his well-known disciples, they are even more precious, holy and rare.

The Buddhists believe that paying respect to the Buddha's relics is the same as paying respect to the Buddha himself, and in doing so, they can gain the same merits. After his passing, the Buddha left relics, so that we still have the opportunity to receive his blessing today.

The Buddhists believe that the relics provide an opportunity to make a spiritual connection with the Buddha. To see the sacred relics is to remind us of the Buddha's glory. It makes people who do not have a Buddhist vocation to have a Buddhist vocation or to make people who have a Buddhist vocation to have a stronger Buddhist vocation. In brief, viewing the holy relics can inspire all Buddhists to develop loving kindness and compassion and to contribute to peace in the world.

By viewing the holy relics, people remember the Buddha's important role in indicating the path of living for us to study and follow to attain well-being, prosperity and peace within the mind of each person, each society and all people in general. If we believe in his teaching and want to have the same peace, we should cultivate our mind to achieve loving kindness and compassion, to tolerate each other, to love each other and to unite to build a true peace in the world.

The true peace begins from the individual level, to each society, to each nation and finally to the whole world. Because of greed, aberration, anger, ignorance and mistreatment of each other by misdeeds, we see widespread killing and mutual rancor, which produce wars all over the world. In brief, viewing the holy relics can inspire all Buddhists to develop loving kindness and compassion and to contribute to the world peace.

Upon his passing, while he lay in a grove of sala trees, he addressed his last words to the monks around him: "Brethren, all things decay," he said. "Be mindful, be righteous and be vigilant. Be lamps unto yourselves. Transient are all component things. Therefore, strive earnestly to attain perfection."