Rare Buddhist relics to visit meditation center in Columbus

by Danielle Devery, The Lantern, Nov 9, 2007

Columbus, Ohio (USA) -- Buddhist relics - considered so special and rare they are described, "as though you are meeting the Buddha personally," - are coming to Columbus.

The Karma Thegsum Choling meditation center is hosting a special collection of Buddhist relics this weekend. The exhibit is in conjunction with the center's 30th anniversary celebration as a Buddhist worship center and will raise funds for the Maitreya Project.

The Maitreya Project is an organization working to promote peace and compassion to all human beings. Aside from raising funds for the construction of the statue of Buddha, proceeds will also go to building a hospital in Kushinagar.

The relics are the bodily remains of ancient Buddhist teachers dating back 2,500 years ago. Some of the relics are from Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, Ananda and Sariputra.

After the teachers died, their bodies were cremated and produced tiny crystal pearls within the ashes. The relics were intentionally left by the teachers and were thought to embody the teachers' wisdom and compassion. Current Buddhist teachers took the pearls of their beloved predecessors and sealed them in the hearts of statues of Buddha.

This exhibition is rare because relics are not often exhumed from within the statues. All the relics to be on display were collected from India, and some have special stories about how they got to Columbus. The relics on display will be placed around a golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha along with other prayers and blessings. The importance of this display is to bring positive energy and peace to everyone who comes to view the exhibit. The relics are intended to promote energy and happiness.

"I think that the primary purpose of this tour is to promote a message of love, kindness, and peace," said Erin Blue, director of the Karma Thegsum Choling center. "These are values throughout the world's major religions, and these are a common thread that binds us together."

Blue encouraged Ohio State students to come to the exhibit because she said there is so much curiosity surrounding Buddhism.

The relics will be placed in a life-sized statue of Buddha, which is under construction in Kushinagar, India as part of the Maitreya project. The relics will continue to travel throughout the world until the statue is completed.

The Karma Thegsum Choling is located at 231 S. Grubb St. in Columbus. The exhibit is open Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.. On Friday at 5 p.m., there will be an opening prayer ceremony commemorating the relics' arrival. There is no admission, but donations are welcome.