A chance meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka between a visiting Cambodian monk from Minnesota, has led to an amazing gift, a Buddha relic – called the proof of perfect enlightenment, the symbol of perfect wisdom, love and compassion.
Last weekend at the Watt Munisotaram, just east of Farmington at 2925 220th St. E., Hampton, the monks were presented with a Buddha relic from a group of visiting monks including the Venerable P. Seewalee Thero of the Maha Bodi Society of India, and the Ven. Jinarathana of Sri Lanka.
For three days of festivities and ceremony, crowds flocked to be blessed by monks with the relic before it was venerated and enshrined in the upper level of the main temple.
The relics are the not the cremated remains of Buddha, according to organizers, but of the holy monks that after a lifetime of teaching, compassion and spiritual enlightenment were cremated and crystallized, pearl-like “relics” were found in the remains. They were collected and stored over the centuries in monasteries.
The Ven Bun Sang Seng said that the relic is an unexpected and amazing gift for not only the Wat Munisotaram temple, but to the other Buddhist temples in the area and for the community at large. The Wat is reportedly one of the few in the United States to be honored with a relic.
He, the Sangha, Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society board and Cambodian Buddhist community, say the Wat is a place where people of different races and faiths are fortunate to be permanently blessed by the presence of the Buddha. The presence of the relic, he added will also serve as a permanent reminder that the path to complete liberation, happiness and peace is possible through determined effort.
The relic is now enshrined in an especially constructed “Stupa”, which was also blessed by the good deeds of the community during the 21st Flower Festival Parade and celebration at the Wat. The Ven. Meung Sang, Head Abbot of Wat Munisotaram and the Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society, led a procession of monks and community around the temple.
Bun Sang Seng, speaking through interpreter Chanda Sour, a Buddhist Society board member, said he was pleased at how many people came to celebrate the enshrinement activities over the weekend and that so much respect was shown for the Buddha relic and to Venerable P. Seewalee Thero the abbot of the temple in Sri Lanka who brought the relic to Minnesota.
“We are full of joy to get this relic to enshrine at this temple,” he said.
Bun Sang Seng said the relic has unified the faithful and was pleased to see not only the Cambodian Buddhists, but others from the Vietnamese, Sri Lankan and mainstream community over the weekend.
Phung Nguyen, a member of the Phat Anh Buddhist temple in Roseville, said that the relics are special and that Vietnamese faithful came to the events on buses from Phat Anh temple and the Vietnamese Buddhist Church in Blaine.
The faithful believe that the essence of Buddha exists in the relics and that this presence is felt especially in a holy temple.
“They came to be blessed by the relics,” said Nguyen.
Though the relics are considered holy, the monks and faithful say they don’t worship Buddha, but practice the set of truths he left to understand life, the world and the universe. It is service of life and the mind, a holiness without a creator, and a faith of heart and mind, according to a Buddhist nun present at the previous relics event.
Thousands visited Wat Munisotaram in August 2007, when the Heart Shrine Relic Tour brought a traveling exhibition of ancient and sacred Buddhist relics as a fundraiser for the construction of a 500-foot tall golden statue of Maitreya Buddha in Kushinagar, northern India. www.wattmunisota.org
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