Author Topic: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings  (Read 12208 times)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« on: May 22, 2010, 07:01:09 pm »
Resource:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic

Quote
Main article: Cetiya

In Buddhism, relics of the Buddha and various sages are venerated. After the Buddha's death, his remains were divided into eight portions. Afterward, these relics were enshrined in stupas wherever Buddhism was spread, despite his instructions that relics were not to be collected or venerated.

Some relics believed to be original cereal of Buddha still survive including the much revered Sacred Relic of the tooth of the Buddha in Sri Lanka.


Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay, Burma. Teresa Merrigan, 2005

A stupa is a building created specifically for the relics. Many Buddhist temples have stupas and historically, the placement of relics in a stupa often became the initial structure around which the whole temple would be based. Today, many stupas also hold the ashes or ringsel of prominent/respected Buddhists who were cremated. In rare cases the whole body is conserved, for example in the case of Dudjom Rinpoche, after his death his physical body was moved a year later from France and placed in a stupa in one of his main monasteries near Boudhanath, Nepal in 1988. Pilgrims may view his body through a glass window in the stupa.

The Buddha's relics are considered to show people that enlightenment is possible, to remind them that the Buddha was a real person, and to also promote good virtue.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 07:19:20 pm by Bodhisatta2010 »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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The First Relics Upon The Cremation of Buddha
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2010, 07:08:29 pm »
source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html

DN 16 PTS: D ii 72 (chapters 1-6)
Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha
translated from the Pali by
Sister Vajira & Francis Story
© 1998–2010
Alternate translation: Thanissaro (chapters 5-6)

Quote
30. And the Venerable Maha Kassapa approached the pyre of the Blessed One, at the cetiya of the Mallas, Makuta-bandhana, in Kusinara. And he arranged his upper robe on one shoulder, and with his clasped hands raised in salutation, he walked three times round the pyre, keeping his right side towards the Blessed One's body, and he paid homage at the feet of the Blessed One. And even so did the five hundred bhikkhus.

And when homage had been paid by the Venerable Maha Kassapa and the five hundred bhikkhus, the pyre of the Blessed One burst into flame by itself.

31. And it came about that when the body of the Blessed One had been burned, no ashes or particles were to be seen of what had been skin, tissue, flesh, sinews, and fluid; only bones remained. Just as when ghee or oil is burned, it leaves no particles or ashes behind, even so when the body of the Blessed One had been burned, no ashes or particles were to be seen of what had been skin, tissue, flesh, sinews, and fluid; only bones remained. And of the five hundred linen wrappings, only two were not consumed, the innermost and the outermost.

32. And when the body of the Blessed One had been burned, water rained down from heaven and extinguished the pyre of the Blessed One, and from the sala trees water came forth, and the Mallas of Kusinara brought water scented with many kinds of perfumes, and they too extinguished the pyre of the Blessed One.

And the Mallas of Kusinara laid the relics of the Blessed One in their council hall, and surrounded them with a lattice-work of spears and encircled them with a fence of bows; and there for seven days they paid homage to the relics of the Blessed One with dance, song, music, flower-garlands, and perfume, and showed respect, honor, and veneration to the relics of the Blessed One.

Partition of the Relics
33. Then the king of Magadha, Ajatasattu, son of the Videhi queen, came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And he sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and I am too. I am worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. I will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

34. And the Licchavis of Vesali came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

35. And the Sakyas of Kapilavatthu came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was the greatest of our clan. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

36. And the Bulis of Allakappa came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

37. And the Kolis of Ramagama came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

38. And the Vethadipa brahman came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And he sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and I am a brahman. I am worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. I will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

39. And the Mallas of Pava came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

40. But when they heard these words, the Mallas of Kusinara addressed the assembly, saying: "The Blessed One has passed away in our township. We shall not part with any portion of the relics of the Blessed One." Then the brahman Dona spoke to the assembly, saying:

One word from me, I beg you, sirs, to hear!
Our Buddha taught us ever to forbear;
Unseemly would it be should strife arise
And war and bloodshed, over the custody
Of his remains, who was the best of men!
Let us all, sirs, in friendliness agree
To share eight portions  â€”  so that far and wide
Stupas may rise, and seeing them, mankind
Faith in the All-Enlightened One will find!
"So be it, brahman! Divide the relics into eight equal portions yourself."

And the brahman Dona said to the assembly: "So be it, sirs." And he divided justly into eight equal portions the relics of the Blessed One, and having done so, he addressed the assembly, saying: "Let this urn, sirs, be given to me. Over this urn I will erect a stupa, and in its honor I will hold a festival." And the urn was given to the brahman Dona.

41. Then the Moriyas of Pipphalivana came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

"There is no portion of the relics of the Blessed One remaining; the relics of the Blessed One have been divided. But take from here the ashes." And they took from there the ashes.

42. And the king of Magadha, Ajatasattu, son of the Videhi queen, erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Rajagaha, and in their honor held a festival. The Licchavis of Vesali erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Vesali, and in their honor held a festival. The Sakyas of Kapilavatthu erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Kapilavatthu, and in their honor held a festival. The Bulis of Allakappa erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Allakappa, and in their honor held a festival. The Kolis of Ramagama erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Ramagama, and in their honor held a festival. The Vethadipa brahman erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Vethadipa, and in their honor held a festival. The Mallas of Pava erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Pava, and in their honor held a festival. The Mallas of Kusinara erected a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One at Kusinara, and in their honor held a festival. The brahman Dona erected a stupa over the urn, and in its honor held a festival. And the Moriyas of Pipphalivana erected a stupa over the ashes at Pipphalivana, and in their honor held a festival.

So it came about that there were eight stupas for the relics, a ninth for the urn, and a tenth for the ashes.

And thus it was in the days of old.

43. Eight portions there were of the relics of him,
The All-Seeing One, the greatest of men.
Seven in Jambudipa are honored, and one
In Ramagama, by kings of the Naga race.
One tooth is honored in the Tavatimsa heaven,
One in the realm of Kalinga, and one by the Naga kings.
Through their brightness this bountiful earth
With its most excellent gifts is endowed;
For thus the relics of the All-Seeing One are best honored
By those who are worthy of honor  â€”  by gods and Nagas
And lords of men, yea, by the highest of mankind.
Pay homage with clasped hands! For hard indeed it is
Through hundreds of ages to meet with an All-Enlightened One! [65]
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 09:25:13 pm by Bodhisatta2010 »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Offerings - Their Meaning
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 07:17:44 pm »
source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html

The purpose of flower offerings

Quote
As was mentioned earlier, an essential part of the ritual of offering flowers is the recital of the following Pali stanza, whereby the offering is made valid:

Vannagandhagunopetam
etam kusumasantatim
pujayami munindassa
siripadasaroruhe.
Pujemi Buddham kusumena 'nena
punnena 'metena ca hotu mokkham
Puppham milayati yatha idam me
kayo tatha yati vinasabahavam.

"This mass of flowers endowed with color, fragrance, and quality I offer at the lotus-like feet of the King of Sages. I worship the Buddha with these flowers: by the merit of this may I attain freedom. Even as these flowers do fade, so does my body come to destruction."

It is of interest to note that this stanza incorporates the Buddhist idea of the impermanence (anicca) of all phenomena. Merit-acquisition is also regarded as contributing towards the attainment of Nibbanic freedom.


The purpose of lamps in ritual:

Quote
Another popular offering of much importance is that of lighted lamps, usually of coconut oil (dipa-puja or pahan-puja). As the Buddha is regarded as the dispeller of the darkness of ignorance, when lighted lamps are offered in his name this metaphorical contrast between the light of knowledge and the darkness of ignorance is taken as the theoretical basis for the ritual. This kind of symbolism being too deep for the vast majority of ordinary people, their motive for this ritual is usually the desire to acquire merit or to avert the evil influence of a bad planetary conjunction. However, it is the former idea that is implied in the traditional stanza used by the Buddhists of Sri Lanka for this offering:

Ghanasarappadittena
dipena tamadamsina
tilokadipam sambuddham
pujayami tamonudam.
"With this lamp lit with camphor that dispels all darkness, I worship the Perfectly Enlightened One who is a lamp unto the three worlds and is the dispeller of darkness."

The epithets tilokadipa ("lamp unto the three worlds") and tamonuda ("dispeller of darkness") as applied to the Buddha are significant in this context. The stanza itself seems to testify to the popularity of the offering of camphor (ghanasara) in early times. But nowadays, even when coconut oil has replaced camphor, the stanza has survived without change. [5]

The offering of lighted lamps had been a popular ritual even in ancient times. The Bodhi-tree and the dagaba (also referred to as stupa, cetiya, or caitya) are the two main objects or places where the ritual is usually performed. The offering of lamps is one of the main aspects of the worship of the Bodhi-tree (bodhi-puja). As it was under a Bodhi-tree that the Buddha attained Enlightenment, it is quite natural that lamps be lit under that tree, not only in memory of the great event, but also as a ritual whereby the devotee could expect to obtain a ray of that light of wisdom attained by the Great Sage. Thus the entire ritual becomes a spiritual exercise, the merits of which are transferred to all other beings, gods, humans, and spirits (bhuta).

See also:  Making Lights:  http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/arty/stupa.htm




The Offering of food and drink
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As regards the offering of drinks and beverages, it is customary to offer these prepared from fruit-juices. Unlike the solid foods, these may be offered in the afternoon, in keeping with the meal habits of the Buddhist monks. Offering of incense generally consists of joss sticks, these being the most easily available. Otherwise this offering is made by putting certain kinds of sweet-smelling powders or incense into glowing charcoal so that it smokes well. A kind of resin, known locally as sambrani, is the variety generally used.

The chew of betel (dahat-vita) is yet another item of offering. This is mostly for consumption after meals, and consists of betel leaves, arecanut, and certain other items like cloves, nutmeg, cardamons, etc. which give a pleasant smell and a pungent taste when chewed. For every kind of offering there are separate stanzas like the one quoted earlier for food. These stanzas are composed in Pali, which is supposed to be the language in which the Buddha preached his doctrine.


Buddha Image

Quote
First Buddha Images:  http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/arty/bud-imag.htm

Making Statues source: http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/arty/stupa.htm

Evolution of Buddha's Image source: http://www.exoticindiaart.com/article/lordbuddha

Thai Buddha's Images:  http://www.buddha-images.com/

Buddha Statues Around the World:  http://terragallery.ru/pictures-subjects/buddha-statues/

 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 09:38:40 pm by Bodhisatta2010 »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Worship of Relics - Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 07:21:53 pm »
source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html

Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka
by
A.G.S. Kariyawasam
© 1996–2010

Relics itemized:

Quote
When visiting the temple the object of worship that ranks first is the dagaba enshrining the bone-relics of the Buddha. There are three categories of worshipful objects: (i) bodily relics, consisting of the bones collected after cremation (saririka); (ii) those articles the Buddha used, e.g., the alms-bowl, Bodhi-tree, etc. (paribhogika); and (iii) those memorials that have been erected on his account as a mark of remembrance (uddesika), e.g., images, paintings, etc. The devotee is expected to worship these in due order, reciting the appropriate stanzas and making at least an offering of a few flowers.

An important aspect of the worship of the dagaba and the Bodhi-tree is the custom of circumambulation (padakkhina) as a mark of respect. Usually three rounds are done, always keeping the object of worship to the right side and with the hands clasped together in adoration. As regards dagaba worship in Sri Lanka, the local Buddhists have a separate stanza for worshipping each of the sixteen sacred places hallowed by the Lord Buddha on his three visits to the island. There is also a popular stanza that covers in a general manner all the three categories of worshipful objects mentioned above:

Vandami cetiyam sabbam
sabbathanesu patitthitam,
saririkadhatu mahabodhim
buddharupam sakalam sada.
"Forever do I worship all the dagabas situated all over, all the bodily relics, the Mahabodhi (tree), and Buddha-images."

The worship of the dagaba or stupa is an important merit-acquiring act of devotional Buddhism in Sri Lanka as also in other Buddhist lands. The first such dagaba to be constructed after the official introduction of Buddhism into the country by the arahant Mahinda was the Thuparama at Anuradhapura, which enshrines the collar-bone of the Buddha. It was constructed by the first Buddhist ruler of Sri Lanka, King Devanampiya Tissa, in the 3rd century B.C. Since then dagabas have become so popular among the local Buddhists that almost every village temple has a dagaba as an indispensable feature. A special ritual connected with the dagaba is the enshrining of relics, which is done with much ceremony at a specially selected astrologically auspicious moment called nakata (Skt. naksatra). A similar ritual is that of pinnacle-setting (kot-palandavima), which is the concluding stage in the construction of a dagaba.

It should be mentioned here that scriptural sanction for dagaba worship is found in the words of the Buddha himself in the Maha-parinibbana Sutta (D.ii,142), where he has enumerated four categories of individuals worthy of dagabas. These are the Tathagata, a Paccekabuddha, a disciple of the Tathagata, and a universal monarch (raja cakkavattin). The worship and offerings made to the Buddha's body after his passing away may also be cited as an instance in this connection.

The most important item that comes within the uddesika kind of sacred object is the Buddha-image, which is found in every temple in its image-house (viharage). In addition to the central image or images, the inside walls of the temple — and sometimes the ceiling as well — are covered with paintings depicting events from the Buddha's life, as well as from his past lives as a Bodhisatta, recorded in the Jataka stories. An important ceremony associated with the Buddha-image is the ritual of painting its eyes (netra-pinkama), which is performed with much care on an auspicious occasion as the last item of its construction. Until this is done the image is not considered an adequate representation of the Buddha.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 09:23:34 pm by Bodhisatta2010 »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Elements of Construction: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 09:21:18 pm »
Quote
   A R T   A N D   C U L T U R E   Â·Â·  S T U P A S  A N D   P A G O D A S
R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S

Ancient

 source:  http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/arty/stupa.htm

   

ANCIENT | RECENT | MODERN
    A stupa is a memorial - a symbol of Buddha, as the enlightenment principle, pointing indirectly to both the teacher and his teachings. It is specifically a reminder of his final passing.
 
Relics divided


2 oldest stupas

The stupa is by far the earliest and architecturally the most significant Buddhist expression. Burial mounds were already in use at the time of the Buddha and he suggested that a stupa be built for his remains at the intersection of four major roads - i.e. in a public place. [Mahaparinibbana Sutta (D.II.141–3)]. After his death the relics were divided into eight portions and perhaps the earliest datable stupas are those at Kusinara, site of his cremation, and the one raised by his family. Presumably these were built not long after his death. Originally stupas were little more than a mound of earth raised over the remains of saints, kings, etc. but over the centuries they have been gradually transformed into major works of art.

The basic elements of construction had evolved after only a few centuries of development and the main four are: the base - usually square; a 'hemispherical' dome; a reliquary - often on top of the dome including a spire (often a stylised umbrella) and, the jewel or crown. There is a great deal of symbolism and stylistic developments that have come to be associated with stupas. Rather than repeat information you can read this information in this small on-line booklet or you could download it [385k] and read it off-line.


Votive stupas
With the spread of Buddhism and the need many people have of a tangible focus for worship the popular cult of the Buddha as a semi-divine and then a divine figure gradually developed. The worship of stupas increased parallel with this. Stupas were also made on a small scale as (portable) objects for devotional worship and/or as containers to hold sacred relics. These reliquary stupas (and stupas generally) might not necessarily contain human remains and an assortment of beads, crystal, pearls, gem stones, gold or silver in various forms is sometimes found in the relic chamber. The mixture of sacred and precious often seems haphazard, suggesting that the intention of the donor was of primary importance.
SANCHI

stupa supremo
stonework details

With the expansion of the monastic order there was an increase in patronage for the construction of many substantial monuments and a great number of large stupas were built. They were built by laymen and were primarily objects of lay religiosity until around the 2nd century BCE when monastic quarters were seen next to stupas (or v.v.). Part of this work also involved the maintenance and expansion of many of the earlier constructions. The main stupa at Sanchi is probably one of the best preserved ancient Indian stupas. It is a splendid example of extended construction with the original core of 18m. diam. attributed to King Asoka (c. 273 – 236 BCE). There have been a considerable number of additions and restorations carried out on the main stupa over the centuries and the site generally has several stupas and monastic remains presenting the full range of Buddhist art and architecture from the third century BCE to the twelfth CE. It was a major centre of Buddhist monasticism between 200 BCE and 600 CE. The various stupas and other monuments feature several hundred short inscriptions covering aspects of the Buddha's teaching and details of various well known monks and nuns. Here is a link to the Sanchi page in the stupa book.

 There are many web sites with information on Sanchi (try any search engine) but here is one that presents a good pictorial review.


Karle - cut-rock.
The excavation of rock-cut monasteries and temples started on a large scale in the early 2nd century BCE and each would usually contain areas for accommodation (with rock beds and pillows!), a pillared hall for monastic meetings and conducting religious ceremonies and a sanctuary which usually contained a stupa. By far the most famous of these is at Ajanta where 28 cave temples were excavated over several centuries. They are extremely well preserved. There is more information on these sites in ARCHITECTURE.

Another famous stupa is the one at Sarnath where the Buddha gave his first discourse. Two of the first monasteries were built here during the time of the Buddha and it was the centre of a distinctive style of Buddhist art. The main stupa dates from about the 5th century CE. [see top thumbnail for link.]


Borobudur
With construction of the Borobudur stupa beginning around 700 CE it falls very close to being considered to be a 'recent' stupa. However as it is the biggest Buddhist monument in the world, being both unique in style and the degree of preservation, I thought to give it the same status of the 'grand old masters.' Visitors ascend from the earthly plane of desire through the world of form without desire to the formless world where the summit represents the absolute. All along the way various scenes of the Buddha's life, miniature stupas, a wealth of Buddha images and iconography create a cosmic and spiritual hierarchy which impresses itself on the mind of the pilgrim.
Here is a link to the Borobudur page in the stupa book.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 03:28:04 am »
In terms of an explanation of the relics, rituals and offerings in the Vajrayana, this online resources is excelllent and leads to deeper explanations on the meaning of different offerings within the tradition:

http://www.khandro.net/symbolism_ritual_toc.htm :

''Elements of Buddhist Ritual & Practice


    * images are used as a guide, a focus or a reminder.  They take the form of tangkas (scroll paintings) or rupas (figurines and statues.)
          o bones, skulls and skeletons
    * practice calendar
          o special days
    * mandala
    * mantra
          o mala (beads)
          o prayer wheel
          o prayer flag
    * offerings
          o white scarf, or katha or kathag
    * the shrine
          o Scriptures are not only studied, but also displayed.
          o incense
          o lamps (candles or butter lamps)
          o water
          o tormas
    * pilgrimage
    * stupas are constructed, displayed, and circumambulated as memorials and guides.  
          o Boudhanath
          o Swayambhu
    * parasol
    * skulls and bones
    * swastika
    * vajra (dorje)
          o p'hurba
          o Bell (Skt. ghanta) and ringing bowls.  (Link to Govt.-of-Tibet-in-Exile 3 Objects)  Other musical instruments used are drums, trumpets, horns, cymbals & gongs.
    * wheel (Skt.: chakra)''[/i]

''
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 03:46:38 am by Yeshe Zopa »

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 03:43:22 am »
The site at Khandro.net goes into detail about the items in the above list, including this section about offerings made on shrines.  It is a long extract but is pretty comprehensive.  Other information on Tsog, Tormas, Chod, Tonglen, Stupas etc. in the context of the Vajrayana is available on this site or via Wiki :)   :




How to Set Up a Buddhist Shrine

Adapted from How to Setup an Altar or Shrine by Ven. Tenzin Yignyen of Namgyal Monastery.




Why Have an Altar ?

A proper altar holds images or representations of the Buddha's enlightened body, speech and mind which serves as reminders of the goal of Buddhist practice -- to develop these qualities in oneself so as to be able to fully benefit all sentient beings. The reason for setting up an altar is not for fame, for showing off wealth, or to increase pride, but rather it is to reduce one's mental afflictions and to seek the ability to help all sentient beings.

Where to Place the Altar*/Shrine


The best place . . . is in a separate shrine room, but if you live in a small place and cannot set aside a separate room for worship, any room can be used. The size of the altar is not important, but it should be in a clean and respectful place, higher than the level of your head as you sit facing it.

If it is in your bedroom, the altar should be placed near the head of your bed, never at the foot, and it should be higher than the bed. The altar should be either on a separate shelf or on a table set aside for this purpose that does not double as a coffee table or night stand.

The Objects and What They Represent

A proper Buddhist altar holds symbols of enlightened body, speech and mind, traditionally represented by displaying a statue or picture of Buddha Shakyamuni, a scripture, and a stupa [Tibetan: chorten].  

At the very least, the altar should hold an image of Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder and source of the teachings in our time.

Regarding the placement of the images, it is important that Shakyamuni Buddha be the central figure. Other images are not requisite, but if you have them, place them around the central figure in this order:  root lamas, yidams (highest yoga tantra deities, yoga tantra deities, performance tantra deities, then action tantra deities), dakinis, and finally protector deities. The order of the arrangement is never by the quality of the material or the artistry. Often it is better to have only a few images, as too many can be distracting.

The scripture representing the speech of the Buddha does not need to be written in Tibetan or Sanskrit, but can be in any language. It can be the Heart Sutra if you wish to represent all the teachings of the Buddha, or it can be a special scripture related to your practice. If the altar consists of three or more levels, the scripture should be placed highest on the altar, above the Buddha statue. If the altar is on one level, the order should be, from left to right: scripture, Buddha, stupa.

The mind of the Buddha is traditionally represented by a stupa of enlightenment, but you need not go out and buy a costly silver or gold one. A photograph or a clay model is perfectly acceptable. The stupa [Tib.: chorten] should be placed to the right of the Buddha image, or below the Buddha if the altar consists of several levels.

The objects on the altar also represent the Three Jewels of Refuge. If there is only a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, think that it represents all Three Jewels. If there is also a scripture and a stupa, think that the stupa represents the Buddha Jewel, the scripture represents the Dharma Jewel, and the image of the Buddha represents the Sangha Jewel.

It is important to keep in mind that the objects on the altar serve as a means for directing one's mind to the Buddha and the Buddha's enlightened qualities, which we aspire to emulate for others' benefit. In maintaining an altar one is trying to cultivate the qualities of the Buddha -- his enlightened body, his enlightened speech and his enlightened mind.

By remembering these qualities and aspiring to develop them, one reduces the negative qualities of attachment, hatred and ignorance, and increases positive qualities like faith, respect, devotion and rejoicing.

Making Offerings


There is no limitation to what can be offered, and there are many levels of offering. In general, one can offer any pleasing object, particularly objects pleasing to the five senses -- form, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition it is customary to offer seven bowls of water which represent the seven limbs of prayer -- prostrating, offering, confession, rejoicing in the good qualities of oneself and others, requesting the Buddhas to remain in this world, beseeching them to teach others, and dedicating the merits.

Flowers, candles or butter lamps, and incense are also commonly offered. It is customary to offer a part of every meal on the altar before eating and a portion of tea before drinking.

The things that should be offered should be clean, new and pleasing.  . . . only the best part, fresh, and clean -- never old, leftover, or spoiled food.

It is best to offer things that you already have or can obtain without difficulty. Don't think that you have to deceive others in order to get offering materials -- they should not come from stealing, cheating or hurting others in any way. Rather, they should be honestly obtained. In fact, it is better not to offer things that were obtained in even a slightly negative way.

As you make offerings, think that what you are offering is in nature your own good qualities and your practice, although it appears in the form of external offering objects. These external offerings should not be imagined as limited to the actual objects on the altar, but should be seen as vast in number, as extensive as space.

Offer food with the wish that all beings be relieved of hunger, and offer water with the wish that all beings be relieved of thirst.  

It is important to think that the deities accept the offerings, enjoy them and are pleased.  Think that by making these offerings all beings are purified of their negative qualities and their thirst for knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality is satisfied.

The purpose of making offerings is to accumulate merit and in particular to develop and increase the mind of generosity and to reduce stinginess and miserliness. By making offerings you also create the causes for the future results of becoming wealthy and becoming naturally and spontaneously generous.

Placing the Offerings on the Altar

If you have the space, place the offerings a little lower than the objects of refuge on your altar. When you awaken in the morning, it is customary to wash at least your face before approaching the altar to offer prostrations and then offerings -- this is a sign of respect for the objects represented there. One is making offerings as if one is accepting a dignitary or a great being into one's home, and it is important to be gracious and respectful.

To offer water on your altar, you should have a minimum of seven bowls. Start with fresh water every day. The bowls should be clean. Pour a little water into each bowl before placing it on the altar. Place the bowls in a straight line, close together but not touching. The distance between the bowls is traditionally measured by the width of a grain of wheat. The bowls should then be filled up to the space of a grain's width from the top -- neither too little nor too much. Pour water like the shape of a wheat grain -- in a thin stream at first, then gradually more, then tapering off at the end.

Try not to breathe on the offerings. If you have a butter lamp, you can place it on your altar between the third and fourth water bowls. Lamps or candles symbolize wisdom, eliminating the darkness of ignorance. In Tibetan monasteries hundreds of lamps are lit as offerings. There is really no limit to the quantity of either water bowls or lamps.

Blessing The Offerings

After pouring the water, lighting the candles and offering incense, bless the offerings by dipping a piece of kusha grass (or a tree twig) into the water, reciting three times OM AH HUM (seed syllables of the Buddha's body, speech, and mind), and then sprinkling the offerings with water. Visualize that the offerings are blessed.

Dedication


Whether external offerings become pure or not, or whether they become a cause for good rebirth in the next life, a cause to achieve liberation, or a cause to achieve enlightenment to benefit all beings depends on one's motivation and dedication. Dedication is crucial.

It will not exhaust or limit one's store of merit but will multiply and increase it. It is excellent to dedicate the merit of making offerings to the elimination of suffering and its causes from all beings, to their achievement of lasting happiness, and to world peace.

Removing the Offerings


At the end of the day, before or at sunset, empty the bowls one by one, dry them with a clean cloth and stack them upside down or put them away. Never leave empty bowls right side up on the altar. The water is not simply thrown away but offered to the plants in your house or in the garden.

Food and flowers should also be put in a clean place outside where birds and animals can eat them. Bowls of fruit can be left on the altar for a few days and can then be eaten when they come down -- there is no need to put them outside.

~ made available by Snow Lion Publications


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Some people object to the use of the English word altar in reference to the surface upon which we keep objects symbolizing the 3 Jewels.  The word altar derives directly from the meaning high place with the connotation of sacrifice and proximity to the gods.  

It goes against fundamental Buddhist teachings to make offerings to beings with the idea of appeasing or bribing them.   Read on to see why it is better to think of this table or set of shelves as a shrine - with the idea of remembrance-  rather than an altar.

< butterlamps
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 03:59:56 am by Yeshe Zopa »

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2010, 03:49:09 am »
The Meaning of the 8 Offerings

edited from a talk by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche (5/1/1993)

". . . enlightened beings do not want or need these things. We make offerings for our own benefit, to accumulate great merit and wisdom.

Enlightenment, Buddhahood, is achieved through the two great qualities - accumulation and purification. As you know, the Buddha has limitless qualities, which were gained through the great accumulations and purifications. Our offerings are a simple way to accumulate both merit and wisdom.

1. WATER TO CLEANSE THE MOUTH OR FACE - Auspiciousness

It signifies auspiciousness or all the positive causes and conditions which bring positive effects. So, make an offering of water which is clean, fresh, cool, smooth, light, delicious, comfortable to the throat and stomach - these qualities are the qualities of auspiciousness. When you drink that kind of water, it is healthy; if you take a shower with it is healthy. While you make this kind of water offering to the enlightened beings, visualize an ocean of water.

Then we dedicate this water to become a cause for all sentient beings to also collect positive causes and conditions. So this is the first water offering - to cleanse the mouth or face.

2. WATER TO WASH THE FEET - Purification

This is clear water mixed with incense or sandalwood which is made as an offering to all enlightened beings' feet. The symbolic meaning is purification. By cleansing the feet of the enlightened beings, we cleanse all our own negative karma and obscurations. By making offerings to clean the enlightened beings feet, we are really cleaning the "feet" of our own mind.

With respect, devotion and confidence, we offer an ocean of this kind of water to all enlightened beings to purify all the temporary obscurations of ourselves and all sentient beings. Obscurations are called "temporary" because they can be purified. If they were permanent, we could not purify them even if we make an effort. So meditate on this when you make these offerings.

All the different types of obscurations -- gross, subtle, negative karma, afflictive emotions, and obscurations to enlightenment -- all these different types of obscurations become fully purified.

3. FLOWERS - Generosity
 
Next is offering of ... the flower of the beauty of enlightenment. It signifies the practice of generosity and opens the heart. A flower is very beautiful; so you naturally want to keep it.

But when you offer it to others, there is some special feeling in the mind. With that connection, make the offering and practice freedom from stinginess. Milarepa said there is no special practice of generosity if one is free from stinginess.  Meditate on that by offering flowers, which signifies the practice of generosity.

May all sentient beings achieve the freedom and endowment of a precious human life. Flowers are offered to the head of the enlightened beings, for them to wear on the crown of the head. Within the practice of generosity, we immediately think of giving wealth, giving fearlessness, giving wisdom -- there are many different types of generosity.

Usually when we say generosity, we immediately think of giving wealth, but it is not only that. For example, giving fearlessness means giving life. If someone is afraid for their life, like drowning in water, and if you give them safety from the water, this is called giving fearlessness, giving freedom from danger to life.

Giving wisdom is very special generosity. When we give teaching to one who has no wisdom -- does not know what samsara is, what enlightenment is, or what the cause of suffering is -- that is such a great gift. To help them understand "Oh, that is samsara, that is enlightenment." Such a great gift! So, offering a flower symbolizes generosity.

4. INCENSE - Discipline, Moral Ethics

Moral discipline is one of the most important practices. In the West, maybe discipline and morality are a little bit different. What I mean here is that when we have good discipline, there is morality. Discipline is in the teaching of the Dharma. For instance, it says, "do this, this, this. Sit like this, meditate like this." It is taught like discipline. So when we do that, it is good moral ethics; when we cannot do these things that are taught to be done, then there is no morality, no ethics.

In Sanskrit, this is called shila ... . means coolness, freshness. When we have good discipline, it cools the mind free from suffering. When we stay in that position well, it relaxes the mind and frees it from agitation. All these disciplines are part of the process of progressing in our meditation practice. Unless these disciplines and moral ethics are there, it is not possible to achieve enlightenment.

Therefore, Buddha gave these three teachings -- moral ethics, samadhi and wisdom -- called the Three Trainings. These Three Trainings are very important. Wisdom or special insight comes from samadhi, [meditation] the stability and strength of the mind. That kind of strength in the mind is based on discipline and morality. So they are all related to each other, are connected to each other and depend on each other.

Therefore, moral ethics is a very important aspect of path. Incense, which is the nature of morality, makes offerings to the nose of the enlightened beings. The enlightened beings are not attached to smell, but to our purity. All people respect those who have kept moral ethics well. It doesn't matter who they are, they get respect because they are trustworthy and dependable. That kind of person gives a good smell, good odor, and people are attracted to that. not only people, but the qualities of enlightened beings are also attracted by that morality. It is their foundation/basis, like the ground which grows ... the "crops" of ... enlightened qualities.


5. LIGHT - Patience

Light . . . signifies the stability and clarity of patience, the beauty which dispels all ignorance. The light offering is made to the eyes of all the enlightened beings, who see clearly without mistake. Some people feel patience is showing weakness or pessimism. But, actually, patience shows the strength and clarity of mind, which are based on wisdom and compassion.

Without proper wisdom and compassion, one cannot practice patience. So light shows that the strength of the mind, the clear, stable nature of the mind, achieved through the practice of patience. Because the mind is not disturbed by other forces, it has such great qualities: clarity knows what is to be done, which is necessary, which is not necessary. That dispels ignorance.

Patience can be practiced in all different forms, different ways, not just when people are faced with anger. For example, there is patience in Dharma practice and study. First, this is based on wisdom, so we should have such wisdom to really know how Dharma is, what quality it has, the depth and vastness of Dharma, and how we can achieve these qualities. Seeing those great qualities, then we need patience to study and practice. When we have that, there is a mind of clarity, of stability.

On the other hand we should not be patient with our afflictive emotions. When we have anger, desire, jealousy, pride, don't practice patience with these! This is the wrong way to practice patience. Even if it is hard or painful, these are subjects to get rid of or purify; they don't do any good thing.  Without sacrificing something, there is no chance that we will have peace and happiness. So no matter what kind of pain we face, what difficult circumstances we face, we have to go thru it. Even if we have to sacrifice this life, it is worthwhile to sacrifice.

A lot of people commit suicide to get rid of all these afflictive emotions. They are overpowered by the afflictive emotions and they kill themselves. That is the wrong way to sacrifice this life. We have to sacrifice this life the other way around. Buddha said that if we have to lose our life to keep the moral discipline, it just finishes this life, but next lives will be higher and higher, better and better. But if we do it the other way around and sacrifice this life for the afflictive emotions, then we will go worse and worse.

In Shantideva's text it is said that we should not commit suicide or give this body without much purpose. Rather, we should cherish this precious human life. An explanation is given. When a medicinal tree is very small plant, it has to be protected in order to grow into a huge tree. If you pick it up when it is small, it will benefit only a few and then it is finished. But if you protect it well with many fences, it will grow into a huge tree that will bring fruits, flowers, roots, leaves, branches for the benefit of many, many sentient beings.

Similarly we have a fragile mind at this time. We must protect this precious human life with all these antidotes, fences, and let it grow big. Then we can benefit many sentient beings. By the practice of patience, all the 112 major and minor marks of a Buddha will come. Of course, we should not expect it, but the result of patience is a healthy, good body, to which all people are attracted, which is respected and admired. All this comes from the practice of patience.

6. FRAGRANCE - Perseverance

. . . the fragrance of saffron or sandalwood. -- all the different types of perfume . . . signifies perseverance or joyous effort. Through that one quality, one develops all the qualities of enlightenment. Without perseverance, without joyous effort, nothing can be achieved. Even in samsara, we have to work so hard to achieve anything. A lot of people sacrifice a lot of things just for samsaric achievement. You sacrifice your life for your work; if you die, what will you do with your wealth? So now, see the other side -- Dharma study and practice. When we could make such a great effort to study, practice Dharma, we have to sacrifice some little thing.

It is said in Shantideva's text that studying Dharma is the cause to freedom from suffering. To achieve ultimate enlightenment, ultimate happiness, why can't we do that? Others in samsara, . . . even sacrifice their life for their achievements, but that becomes a cause only for suffering.

As flowers were offered to the eyes of enlightenment, perfumes are offered to the Buddha's mind because perseverance is the heart of enlightenment. Perfect generosity, moral ethics, patience, samadhi, wisdom -these all depend on perseverance. Without joyous effort none of these can be accomplished, so it is the heart, the essence. Meditate that by this offering, may all sentient beings progress in their attainment of the qualities of enlightenment.

7. DELICIOUS FOOD - Samadhi

. . . food which has a lot of different tastes. The delicious, excellent quality of food signifies . . . nectar or ambrosia to feed the mind.  This is an offering to the tongue of the enlightened beings, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Samadhi is also the source of all the siddhis like clairvoyance.

There are two different types of clairvoyance -- ordinary clairvoyance is usually from other lifetimes. The other type is special insight clairvoyance, which we achieve this lifetime through meditation practice. Flying in the sky, different types of miraculous power, these can all be achieved through samadhi, the virtuous one-pointed mind.

The very stable mind, one-pointed, clear, calm, peaceful mind of samadhi becomes a basis to achieve all the enlightenment qualities. Food symbolizes samadhi because eating food maintains this body, and samadhi is a kind of food that maintains the mind as well as the physical body.

When you achieve any kind of samadhi, it is the fruition of the effort you made before, and it can also become a path to get higher fruition. Generally, when we eat nutritious healthy food, it makes our health better.  ... the nutritious food of samadhi, it keeps the health of the mind. It makes the mind healthy, clear, calm and peaceful. By making this offering of delicious food, may all sentient beings have the health which results from the samadhi food. May all sentient beings have the samadhi nature, quality.

8. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - Wisdom

 There are different types of instruments -- cymbals, bells, guitars, lutes -- all of these are offered. Their nature is wisdom, which makes an offering to the ears of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and all the enlightened beings.

Sound represents wisdom because wisdom is a special power of the mind which penetrates phenomena. Compassion is achieved through great wisdom; interdependence of all phenomena is realized through great wisdom. of course all phenomena have the nature of interdependence, causes and conditions, but sound is especially easy to understand. If you play a guitar, what does the sound depend on?  It does not come just from the piece of wood, the string, not from the finger.

So where does it come from? It comes from all these things, none alone is sufficient to produce the sound. That nature is called illusion. We can hear the Sound, but it has no independent existence. So we should see all sound having that nature. It just comes and goes like an echo. That realization is wisdom, and through that realization we can attain supra-mundane quality.

May the wisdom, that quality of the supra-mundane, arise within the minds of all sentient beings and free them from all confusion and ignorance.  May they achieve enlightenment.

Questions & Answers


Q.  Should the bowls be emptied every evening?
A.  Yes, when you empty them, you should meditate on impermanence. Now all the enlightened beings are fully satisfied. Dedicate the merit accumulation of making these offerings to all sentient beings. May all those beings also become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, free from confusion and suffering.

Q.  Do you have to have actual flowers, or can I use rice or water?
A.  Buddha said that there are so many different levels of meditation practice -- from 100% to 1%. So all this we can do depending on the individual practitioner. But even the 1% . . .  -- it's better than nothing.

When we make offering by filling all the bowls with rice, it is wonderful. The Buddha said that even if you take one piece of flower and throw it in the air while focusing on the Buddha, that will become a cause for freedom from samsara.

Q.  Some people make it very elaborate and elegant, expensive looking; others have simple white bowls with water.
A.  No matter what, you have to have a pure motive. This is very important. With pure motivation, any offering you make is good. Expensive is great because you sacrifice a lot of things for that offering. but if you do not have pure motivation, like doing it to show wealth, then maybe it's not so pure.

We work this entire life, so for us these things mean so much. When we make an offering of them to the enlightened beings, it has meaning for us. We sacrifice that part of our life. In this way, offering becomes a special meditation practice."

   ~ from a talk by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche on May 1, 1993 at the Tibetan Meditation Center, published in The Dharma Wheel, Summer 1993 and made available online by Sacred Texts.

    * Khenpo Karthar at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra: The Seven Shrine Offerings
    * a Cho-Yang article on offerings

~ offering photo ArtToday.com

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« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 04:01:06 am by Yeshe Zopa »

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2010, 04:01:37 am »

An exhibition of the relics of many Buddhist masters is touring at the moment.

The 'relics' seem to be crystals which were found after the cremation or diosposal of the dead bodies:

http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/gallery.html

''A unique and precious collection of more than 1000 sacred Buddhist relics will be permanently displayed in the Heart Shrine of the completed Maitreya Buddha statue in Kushinagar. Meanwhile, it is the wish of the Spiritual Director of the Maitreya Project, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, that the collection should travel throughout the world to bring the blessings of the relics and the message of loving-kindness to people everywhere.

Most of the relics — those found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters — resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe these relics are produced as a result of the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Since we can all develop these qualities, the relics are a reminder of our own essential nature of purity and our inner potential to manifest that.

The collection includes relics of the historical Buddha and the Buddha’s closest disciples as well as many other well-known Buddhist masters from different Buddhist traditions.''

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2010, 09:54:23 am »
One form of 'relic' used within Vajrayana is the 'Kapala' or Skull Cup.  Various impements are made from the bones of the dead found in charnel grounds after cremations or sky burial.


This article explains the Kapala Skull Cup and its uses:

http://pagodagallery.com/PagodaGallery/05_Interesting_information/03_Archive/Kapala_skull_cup/Kapala_skull_cup.htm

Offline TashiNyima

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2010, 01:31:06 pm »
Dear Yeshe la

om svasti

Thank you for your posts.

My Root Teacher's sharira (Tib. ringsel) continue to multiply. Originally, i received approximately 12 ringsel, which i placed in a silver container, and worshiped with saffron.

Even though i have shared a number of these relics with others, as of today the ringsel on my altar number in the thousands. Some Dharma friends have also experienced the multiplication of the ringsel entrusted to them.

These divine manifestations are not limited by time, place, or circumstance.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2010, 01:54:20 pm »
Dear Yeshe la

om svasti

Thank you for your posts.

My Root Teacher's sharira (Tib. ringsel) continue to multiply. Originally, i received approximately 12 ringsel, which i placed in a silver container, and worshiped with saffron.

Even though i have shared a number of these relics with others, as of today the ringsel on my altar number in the thousands. Some Dharma friends have also experienced the multiplication of the ringsel entrusted to them.

These divine manifestations are not limited by time, place, or circumstance.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

That's amazing. I have heard about such things but never seen the phenomenon.

You must have received wonderful blessings from your Root Teacher. 


Offline Mani

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2010, 02:33:11 pm »

An exhibition of the relics of many Buddhist masters is touring at the moment.

The 'relics' seem to be crystals which were found after the cremation or diosposal of the dead bodies:

http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/gallery.html

''A unique and precious collection of more than 1000 sacred Buddhist relics will be permanently displayed in the Heart Shrine of the completed Maitreya Buddha statue in Kushinagar. Meanwhile, it is the wish of the Spiritual Director of the Maitreya Project, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, that the collection should travel throughout the world to bring the blessings of the relics and the message of loving-kindness to people everywhere.

Most of the relics — those found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters — resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe these relics are produced as a result of the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Since we can all develop these qualities, the relics are a reminder of our own essential nature of purity and our inner potential to manifest that.

The collection includes relics of the historical Buddha and the Buddha’s closest disciples as well as many other well-known Buddhist masters from different Buddhist traditions.''



I have seen the relic's exhibit and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do the same.  It was quite an experience. So many relics from so many great teachers and lineage Masters.  Wow was about all I could say...

Yeshe Zopa

  • Guest
Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2010, 09:33:05 am »

An exhibition of the relics of many Buddhist masters is touring at the moment.

The 'relics' seem to be crystals which were found after the cremation or diosposal of the dead bodies:

http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/gallery.html

''A unique and precious collection of more than 1000 sacred Buddhist relics will be permanently displayed in the Heart Shrine of the completed Maitreya Buddha statue in Kushinagar. Meanwhile, it is the wish of the Spiritual Director of the Maitreya Project, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, that the collection should travel throughout the world to bring the blessings of the relics and the message of loving-kindness to people everywhere.

Most of the relics — those found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters — resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe these relics are produced as a result of the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Since we can all develop these qualities, the relics are a reminder of our own essential nature of purity and our inner potential to manifest that.

The collection includes relics of the historical Buddha and the Buddha’s closest disciples as well as many other well-known Buddhist masters from different Buddhist traditions.''



I have seen the relic's exhibit and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do the same.  It was quite an experience. So many relics from so many great teachers and lineage Masters.  Wow was about all I could say...


I attended the exhibition of Relics today.  Wonderful experience.

I expected mainly Tibetan Buddhist practitioners to be there, as the event was organised by Gelugpa and had mainly relics from Tibetan lineage masters, but when I was given the blessing it was performed by a Theravadan monk from Thailand who is studying in the UK.










 


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