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Archive for October, 2007

As stated previously, I visited the Jamyang Buddhist Center over the weekend to see the Relic’s Tour, and I can say I wasn’t disappointed.I’d already volunteered to be a helper at the center, and was asked to be a stuard.  I arrived just before lunch and introduced my self to the reception staff.  I was greeted warmly and asked to view the relics first.  I walked into the main Ghompa (shrine room) after removing my shoes.  As I walked in, the smell of incense was heavy in the room.  Their were two statues: One approx. 5 foot high golden statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, and a much bigger statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, which belonged to the center, dominating the end of the room.  I walked forward and bathed a small statue of the Buddha in water whilst reciting a prayer.  Then, I started looking at the relics.  Many people might look at them and say “is that it!  That’s what you came 110 miles to see!”, an understandable reaction.  As you may see from the photos, there isn’t that Buddha Shakyamuni's relicsmuch to see.  However, thousands of people (if no millions) have traveled to see these relics worldwide.  For some, they are the remains of some of the most influential people in Buddhist history (not to mention, one of the founders).After I had looked at all the relics, there was an opportunity to be blessed with the relics of the Buddha.  Once completed, I went to find someone who wanted my help.  I was introduced to the stuard supervisor, who gave me a world-wind tour of the center, and then asked me to stand by one of the doors to the relics.  As I stood there and watched as people shuffled round the table, I was amazed at the diversity in the room:  There were men, women, children (of all ages), white, black, Asian, oriental, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and even animals.  There was no rivalry, no aggression, no competitiveness, and no disrespect.  Everyone was doing “their thing”.  Some were prostrating, some where bowing, others just looked.  Some even perambulated (a kind of walking meditation/prayer).Tsongkapa Relic  One woman was siting in the corner of the room, meditating with a small dragon of some kind.  I am told that she had had it blessed earlier, and that the day before, she had bought in a pigeon.  Others had bought their dogs, cats and even insect’s of some kind for blessings.  At first I thought “how strange”, but upon reflection, why not? All animals are after all sentient beings too, and have every right to be blessed.  Whilst I was standing there, I looked around the room.  The whole building was the Court house of Lambeth Council, built in the late 1800’s and as seen some of the worst of the worst (the Krays twins to name but two).  As I stood in the old court, I couldn’t help but think the wonderful irony: Once this had been a place of high security, anger and pain.  Now, there was only love.I strongly suggest that any reader go and see the Relic if they come nearby.  It is a once in a life time opportunity, and an amazing experience.  To find out if the relics will be near you, visit the Maitreya project website.

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I am currently reading a book by Lama Surya Das called “Awakening the Buddha within”.  It’s a very good book written by a westerner who turned to Buddhism in his early 20’s (like me), and went so far as to be one of the first American Lama’s in the Tibetan tradition.  Today I read a chapter about one of the steps of the eight fold path (a set of guidelines found in most Buddhist schools, not unlike the ten commandments of Christianity).  Lama Surya Das was talking about right Intentions or right thought.  One particular part about it was that we all ‘fight’ with our ego, the part of us that is only interested in ourselves.  When we think of something, our first thoughts tend to be how they would affect us.  Take for example the rush hour traffic reports we get on the radio.  If they report an incident on our route to work/home, don’t we immediately think “oh no, I’m going to be late!” (and yes I’ll admit, I’ve done it too (notice the use of ‘I’ there…)).  What if it was a car crash… would we think anything about the injured?  Most likely not until we have planned our diversion so that we don’t get stuck in the traffic.

I was telling one of my work colleagues about my plans for the week end and that I was going to help out at the Relics Tour at the Jamyang Buddhist center.  I explained that I would be helping people with queries, drinks, umbrella’s etc.  I then said “At least I’ll gain a bit of merit for it”.  True, but why did I feel it necessary to add that in?  I have no real excuse.

What if we didn’t think about ourselves first, and only think about others, then us?  Would the world be any different?  I think the obvious answer is a resounding YES.  I’m not saying no one is like this… There are many stories of people who rush back into burning buildings to save someone and possibly die in the process.  If this sentiment was found everywhere in the world, there would be a lot less suffering in it.  What if the competitive attitude we teach our children was replaced with that of compassion, collaboration and mutual benefit?  I’d be out of a job, because the nuisance youths on our street’s would not act in anti social behaviour out of consideration; there would be more neighbourhood watch schemes because neighbours would look out for each other in the spirit of mutual benefit and collaboration; and more people would stop to help an elderly couple fix their flat tyre.  Maybe if we taught our children that the real benefit of team competition is to work as a team, fitness and making new friends, they wouldn’t grow up with a “me me me” attitude.  They may learn that it is not a weakness to care for your fellow being that walk this earth.  Fortunately, a growing majority of children being bought up are being taught these lessons.  I just hope it continues for all of our sake.

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Karma has been bought back to the fore front today when I found out that a couple of people that we know at work were involved in a car crash and are still in Hospital.  Although these people were a handful, it doesn’t make it any nicer to contemplate.  It even made one of my colleagues a little pale just to tell me about it.

All this just goes to show that karma IS a universal constant.  Some people call it fate, others call it an act of god.  I think that Karma is the most likely explanation, cause and effect.  I pray for all those that were involved in that crash, and hope they have a speedy recovery.

On a brighter note, I’d like to make any reader aware of the Relics tour that will be coming to London this week end at the Jamyang Buddhist Center.  I will be going, and will update soon.

Namaste

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