My Week with Holy Relics – Matt Whiston – Oct 2017

Lord Buddha said “Every meeting must end with a parting of ways” so it was that with a mixture of joy and sadness we held the closing ceremony to farewell the holy relics exhibition we had hosted at Hayagriva Centre for just over a week.

Thanks to the initiatives of our resident teacher Geshe Sonam, Marlene, John and a large group of attentive and very welcoming volunteers, the local community both Buddhist and otherwise had access to the holy relics of Shakyamuni Buddha, Kashyapa Buddha, the great masters Atisha, Drontompa, the great Fifth Dalai Lama, and more recent Gurus such as Geshe Lama Konchog and Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup.

Access which would be difficult to gain elsewhere,with such close contact,such that continual light offerings, prostrations, prayers, sutra recitations, animal (and human!) blessings were offered in a continual stream.

The opening ceremony on Friday night saw several ordained Sangha members, hosted by Geshe Sonam including Ven. Thupten Lodey, three visiting Bhutanese monks, our meditation teacher Ven. Drolma, Ani Jampa, as well as Venerable Hasapanna (Abbess) and an Anigarika from the Theravadan Dhamassara Nunnery in attendance. The short prayer ceremony was capped by an intense, energetic, Lion Dance which took up all the space we had left in the gompa! Guests retired for refreshments afterwards. The timing of the rain was very interesting!

As mentioned above the week which followed was a hive of activity, and on two occasions our resident teacher Geshe Sonam, blessed members’ pets with a relic of the Buddha, including dogs, cats, a rabbit, all with varying degrees of bemusement, some rushing up only to be blissful and subdued after the event, some it must be said, a little less sure about it all. The pet owners were in for a blessing too, and apart from the advertised events Geshe la was able to bless hundreds of people during the course of the week. This was wonderful.

Three sutra recitations took place in the presence of the relics, one reading of the “Sanghata Sutra”, one reading of the “Sutra of Golden Light”, as well as recitations of the “Vajra Cutter Sutra” and “Dependent Arising: A Praise of the Buddha” by Lama Tsong Khapa.

Of course due to the majesty and power of the relics, the blessings, people were inspired to do their own practise in the temple. There were also a group of volunteers who got to do a sleep over with the holy relics:

“A very peaceful sleep after the hectic week going to Bendigo and back and having the privilege of travelling with the Relics.” – Marlene

“I had the best nights sleep in the Gompa with the relics and during my sleep had the sensation of walking in a green field in waist high grasses. There was no sound just the movement of the grasses as a gentle wind and I walked and moved through them. I could feel the gentleness of the wind moving everything but not hear anything. It was completely calm and the next day when I awoke I felt the same way, just calm. I also had the sensation during the day that I was being held, kind of hugged and that all would be well and I felt completely peaceful.” – DW

“The first night I was alone, my sleep was light even though I was very tired. I could hear the birds singing happily away for a long time next door and smell the very sweet fragrance of the yellow orchids several times. It was very calm and settling. It’s mind boggling to be so fortunately close to many physical manifestations of the Buddhas and Buddhist masters. On another night, we were a bit worried about knocking them over!” – LM

At the events conclusion Geshe Sonam mentioned due to hard work we had created a lot of merit, positive force, had been accumulated, and so we dedicated that potential for world peace, the removal of natural calamities on the planet, and prayers that the Buddha Dharma remain long in this world. Most significantly that the Holy Gurus who teach and inspire us have long healthy lives, that Hayagriva Buddhist centre flourishes, and that its members be harmonious, as that is the source of happiness.

It was on the whole a very inspiring event and one which is difficult to put into words, the way we felt about the holy relics and the blessings they bring, but it will make a visit to the Great Stupa of Compassion at the Atisha Centre in Bendigo a must on any one’s bucket list, and it will make us reflect and rejoice on the deeds of our kind and compassionate guru Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose vision through which we are able to create such merits.

Sarva manga lam.

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