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Buddha, Dalai Lama collection in Davenport

Jul 12, 2013

DAVENPORT – The Quad Cities is now one of the stops on the World Tour of a precious collection of sacred relics of the Buddha and many other Buddhist masters, including the Dalai Lama.

“Thousands of locations around the world have submitted requests to host this exhibit, and we are very lucky to be able to host these beautiful, inspiring items here,” said local organizing committee co-chairwoman Rochel Rittgers.

The Loving Kindness Tour exhibit will be on display with free admission Sept. 7-8 at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

The relics are from the collections of Buddhist disciples from Tibet, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and other countries around the world. The oldest of the relics are believed to be about 2,500 years old.

This is a rare opportunity to view these relics, which were found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. They resemble beautiful, pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe these crystal-like relics embody the master’s spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom and are deliberately produced by the master at his death.

They are clearly displayed encircling a life-size, golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha. (Maitreya means loving-kindness.) Other artifacts on display include: prayer wheels, incense burners and statues.

An opening ceremony is being planned for Sept. 6.

Visitors may participate in a Blessing Ceremony where the relics of the Buddha are gently placed on the crown of the visitor’s head as a personal blessing.

Since the world tour started in 2001, more than 1.6 million people have viewed the relics.

This exhibit is non-sectarian; people of all faiths and non-faith are welcome.

“The purpose of the tour is not about worshipping Buddha, but about spreading loving-kindness and peace — which is a universal message,” said Rittgers.

In response to this exhibit at other places, visitors often report experiences of inspiration and healing when in the presence of the relics. While some are inspired to pray for world peace and to develop their inner wisdom, others are overcome by emotion as the powerful effects of the relics open their hearts to compassion and loving-kindness.

Eventually, the relics will be enshrined in a 150-foot bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha that is being built in Bodhgaya, northern India. According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha to bring teachings of loving-kindness to the world.

For more information about the local exhibit, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BuddhaRelicsQuadCities

“As a global city on the Mississippi River, in the heart of America, Davenport has long served as a crossroads where people of different origins, cultures and faiths have come together to form a dynamic community,” said Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba. “For that reason, it is fitting that Davenport, a regional center for the arts, will serve as a host city for the Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour. “Apart from its educational and cultural value, this tour’s message of peace and inter-faith cooperation are certainly ones we can use these days,” he said.

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