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It seems we have amazing scenic drive karma! Our trip from Boise, ID to Portland, OR was breathtaking to say the least. Our GPS took us on a route through the countryside on a minor highway through hills and valleys. During the last leg of the drive, we drove parallel to the Columbia River as the sun was setting, bringing out amazing colors in the water and valley. The journey was a long one, about 7 hours, and we were happy to arrive. We spent the first few days with Prajal Vajracharya, a Nepalese Buddhist Priest who is the lineage holder of a sacred Buddhist Dance.

On Friday we drove over to Maitripa College to begin set up. I had never been there before, and was very happy to meet Yangsi Rinpoche. We had lunch with him, and was very happy to find out that he is very tall like me. All of the lamas I have met are quite small compared to me (I am 6’7″), and so I always found myself leaning way down to pay my respects. To be in the presence of Yangsi Rinpoche, a lama who stood as tall as me, was very exciting and novel!

The altar room at Mairipa College is absolutely beautiful. Their altar has exquisite statues, and the sky blue background gave a feeling of being in a pure land!

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From the moment we stepped in the door, we were greeted with warmth and kindness. The volunteers were very helpful and hard working, and set up the most beautiful altar I have seen in my travels with the Relic Tour. They definitely know how to set up an altar!

Lama Zopa Rinpoche was at Maitripa College a few weeks before, to give teachings and empowerments. Having the Relics displayed made the energy even more powerful. During the Relics exhibition, Yangsi Rinpoche and his students did Chod practice in a corner of the room. During the practice, and even after, the energy was quite tangible. Very powerful stuff going on!

People first offered a bath to Baby Buddha, symbolic of their own and all sentient beings’ purification. At the same time, the bath is an offering to ones guru. After this, they circumambulated around a beautiful sand mandala, made only a few weeks prior. It was Chenrezig Buddha’s Mandala.

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I want to take this opportunity to share an image I took during the Relic Tour event in Guadalajara, Mexico. I really like this image:

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During the weekend, a major heat wave was blazing outside. We were very fortunate to be indoors in air conditioning! The event brought in a small but steady stream of people, most people taking refuge from the heat in the river or inside air conditioned houses. Many animals came to receive blessings, including several dogs and cats, a parrot and two snakes!

More pictures of the event:

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It was a very beautiful event. The fact that we were right below FPMT International Office was great, as we were able to meet some people who work there. During the take down of the exhibition on Sunday evening, I stepped outside to get something in the van, and noticed many crows surrounding the building. They were everywhere; on telephone wires and on top of buildings. In Buddhism, this is considered to be very auspicious. Many thanks to all who made the event possible!

I leave you with some images from my collection:

Avalokiteshevara

“In every atom are Buddha fields numberless as atoms,

Each field is filled with Buddhas beyond conception,

And each Buddha is surrounded by myriad Bodhisattvas;

To all these dwellers in sublime ways I turn my attention”

-From ‘The King of Prayers’

Ladybug

OM AH HUM

Boise, ID

The drive from Davis, CA to Boise, ID was breathtaking. With the van fixed and better than ever, we set out on a very scenic trip.

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The highlight of the voyage was driving by Mt. Shasta, considered by many to be a holy mountain. We almost circumnavigated the entire mountain! At the foothills of Mt. Shasta, we drove by huge fields of natural-grown sage, at which Dekyi-Lee asked to stop and collect some. We took the opportunity to admire the incredible beauty of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding area.

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The Relic Tour event in Boise was quite special. About 8 spiritual groups came together to organize the event, including a Nepalese Buddhist Dance group, a Vietnamese monastery, a Zen group, and several Tibetan groups. To my surprise, there is a lot of spiritual activity in Boise. Many high teachers have come to teach, and as a result, many spiritual traditions flourish there. So to have the event organized by many groups brought them closer together. It is so precious when different traditions come together and share, dwelling in respect and appreciation for these diverse paths. I think this is crucial to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of other spiritual traditions.

The event was hosted at the Boise Unitarian Universalist church, a precious facility with beautiful gardens. I hope you enjoy the photos!

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For those of you who are not familiar with Maitreya Buddha, he is prophesied to be the future buddha in this earth. It is said that the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha (the present buddha, who is the originator of all Buddhist teachings that currently exist) will eventually disappear. Maitreya Buddha will then appear to teach. Maitreya comes from the Sanskrit work ‘Maitri’ which means loving-kindness, thus Maitreya is the buddha of loving-kindness. The reason a 500 ft statue is being built in Kushinagar, India, is so that we are able to make a connection with Maitreya, which will then ripen in the future.

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The Relics travel in this bag. At the end of the day, we place all the Relics back into the bag, and take it home with us. We then bring the bag in the morning and set out all the Relics. Currently there are Relics from 49 masters, and they all fit inside the bag. One of my favorite things is to place the entire bag of Relics on top of people’s heads as we are heading out the door!

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Every morning we make water bowl offerings. These are beautifully arranged around the altar, and at night we empty them all. Water has the ability to absorb the surrounding energy, so this water is imbued with the blessing energy from the Relics. We like to give the water to the people who come, as it is very beneficial to drink, share with sick people, and even give to pets! This group was very keen on making the blessed water available to everybody, so they went out and purchased over 1,000 little bottles, and spent a lot of time filling them.

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Eagle spent a few hours tracing the Sanghata sutra with a gold pen! If the sutra is completed during an event, it is left with the hosting group.We him this, and he became very enthusiastic about finishing it before closing time. Talk about single-pointed concentration! There are always a few Sanghata sutras available for people to trace, and they are quite popular with grown-ups and children.

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These Vietnamese nuns came for a few hours during the weekend to give blessings. The most senior nun (wearing glasses) was very special. She trully embodied mindfulness in all her actions.

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This is Leanne (the host organizer) and her two boys. They were offering prayers at the closing ceremony, and the boys went wild on the microphone! It was very funny.

Fotos Cristian 471a

May the precious Bodhi mind

not yet born arise and grow

and may that born have no decline

but increase forever more.

BW Lotus

OM AH HUM

Davis, CA

Our second stop in our North America Tour took us to a charming town called Davis, in northern California. We had quite the trip from San Jose to Davis.About 30 minutes into our drive there was a loss of power in our Dodge Sprinter van as we were climbing some hills. The van could only travel at about 30 mph, it felt like driving up a hill at 5th gear. Shortly thereafter, the engine light turned on, so we quickly found a gas station and pulled over. We called AAA, and a flat-bed tow truck came to the rescue. They sent the most experienced tow truck driver in the area, as our van is very big and fully loaded. We got the van on to the flat-bed, and it turned out that the total height was about 10 inches below the maximum height allowed! We were also very heavy, and the driver was confident we were over the allowed weight, but he decided to take us anyways.

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We rode in front with the driver, and had a wonderful 2 hour trip. He shared with us the intricacies of the tow-truck industry, his best stories, close calls and near death experiences while rescuing stranded people along the highway. Dekyi-Lee and I were loving every second of it. We got talking about spirituality, and this guy shared some pretty profound stuff from his experiences on the road. (This tow truck driver knew more dharma than some dharma practitioners!) We finally arrived past midnight safe and sound and hit the mattress with a vengeance.

I had a 6am TV interview on a Spanish speaking TV station, so I didn’t get much sleep. (Having traveled with the Relics in Mexico earlier this year got me some good experience doing interviews,  as I was the only Spanish speaking custodian of the team. I remember the first time going to the TV station for a talk show interview I was so nervous. Besides all the cameras and being in the studio, the talk show host was a beautiful and voluptuous Mexican lady! It was a pretty funny experience.)

The group that hosted the Relic Tour was amazing and very well organized. Several spiritual groups came together to organize the event, which made it very special. I had to take the van to get fixed, and so left Dekyi-Lee alone with the volunteers. When I returned a few hours later, they practically set up the whole thing! As for the van, It turned out that the gasket feeding the turbo had cracked, a common occurrence for these vans. They also noticed that the transition fluid was overdue a change, so we got that done as well. It turned out to be a blessing that the van broke down so that they could change the transition fluid. Coincidence? :)

Here are some pictures of the event:

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We had a pretty good turn out for this event. We figured that almost 2,000 people came. We also blessed a handful of big rats a gentleman brought in!

Purple flower

“How wonderful it would be if all beings had equanimity, free from attachment and aversion,

How wonderful it would be if all beings had happiness and its causes,

How wonderful it would be if all beings were free from suffering and its causes,

How wonderful it would be it all beings always obtained higher rebirths or blissful liberation!”

Shakyamuni Buddha comp.

San Jose, CA

We are off to a pretty amazing start! Our first event was held at a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in San Jose, which is a short drive of about 50 minutes from Santa Cruz. The night before leaving, a Guru puja was held at Land of Medicine Buddha, led by Choden Rinpoche. Choden Rinpoche is a very high lama, considered to be a buddha by many. Dekyi-Lee (the other custodian) and I took part of the puja, and took the Relics as well. We thought it was a very nice way to start the Relic Tour, by paying homage to the Guru and receiving Choden Rinpoche’s blessings.

The temple is a house in a residential area in San Jose. The house as a bit small for a temple, but the community has a huge heart. I was very happy to have our first event at a Vietnamese temple, because Vietnamese people are very devout Buddhists and cook amazingly well. To be able to witness their devotion was very beautiful and moving. Even little children would show amazing respect and reverence. It was a long set up, perhaps taking about 7 hours since it was the very first event. We had many boxes of merchandise that had to be inventoried and arranged in display for the shop area. We offered books, malas, statues, music CD’s, prayer flags and wall hangings. All proceeds go to support Maitreya Project.

Working with Dekyi-Lee has been wonderful. We have only know each other for almost 10 days, but feel as if it’s going to be a great team. She used to be a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 7 years, and is very active with Essential Education. She runs a center in Canada, and does healing work as well. I look forward to learning lots from her.Her website is: http://www.lamponthepath.org.

Here are some photographs of the temple and the community doing prayers.

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The volunteers were very organized and hard working. They all wore beautiful smiles.

Although the altar room was small, about one thousand people saw the Relics. Due to the small room, we had to make a smaller altar, but it worked just fine. Usually, we like to have a larger altar with abundant offerings of light, water bowls and incense.

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We were very fortunate to have Ven. Jangchup from Vajrapani Institute come and bless people both Saturday and Sunday.

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Even children showed much devotion. It was very beautiful to see.

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Even though most people who came to see the Relics were Vietnamese, a few westerners dropped by as well.

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This first event was very auspicious because a kind and generous lady donated Relics to the Relic Tour. She obtained these from Thailand and offered Relics belonging to the first and third Buddha’s. (Shakyamuni Buddha is said to be the fourth buddha of this fortunate eon.) The offered Relics will be taken to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of Maitreya Project, for authentication. We were very happy by such an auspicious offering.

On Saturday, a Geshe came by to see the Relics and bless people. His name is Geshe Rigya, and he was in the same party with His Holiness the Dalai Lama when they escaped Tibet in 1959. Geshe Rigya was 25 years old then. Apparently he is a very high lama. We had no idea he was coming, so it was a wonderful surprise. I was able to meet him and offer a khata. We spoke for a while via his translator. He seemed to be amazed at my height, and kept commenting that this was very good. I saw him again later on, but this time his translator wasn’t there. We had a very funny exchange, lots of gesturing and body language to get our messages across. Geshe-la radiated warmth and kindness, and Dekyi-Lee said that his smile resembles that of HH the Dalai Lama.

Dekyi-Lee and I did not get much sleep during the event. We worked long hours, but ever so joyful.

The event ended on Sunday night, and on Monday morning we drove back to LMB (Land of Medicine Buddha), as a long life puja was going to be offered to Choden Rinpoche. Again, we brought along the Relics for the occasion. The puja was amazing, simply amazing. There were perhaps 100 people present, both ordained and lay. The offerings were spectacular. A long life puja helps the guru to have a long and healthy life, and establish a positive connection between the student and guru. The weekend could not have ended better.

We have been resting at LMB since Monday, and tomorrow (Thursday) we drive to Davis, CA for our next event. Davis is about 3 hours north of Santa Cruz, near Sacramento.

It’s been a pretty cool voyage so far!

May all beings be happy and free from suffering!

OM AH HUM

Tashi Delek

This is my first blog, and it comes as a suggestion of a friend. I am about to embark on a 6 month journey around the US and Canada, and have just purchased a laptop. Therefore, my friend suggested I start a blog. So let’s see where this goes and how often I update it. I must admit that I was never very good at updating social network sites. I have an account in orkut.com, and my last entry was about 3 years ago!

I will be traveling with the Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relic Tour, a very special Tour of relics from the Buddha and His disciples, up to contemporary masters from different countries. In total, there are about 38 master’s relics in the collection. Here is the website for more information: http://www.maitreyaproject.org

I have already toured with the Relic Tour for 2 months in the US, driving from Florida to California, and recently 3 months in Mexico where we visited 9 cities. The most notable visit was in Mexico City, where 36,000 people visited the Relics during 8 days of exhibition.  We travel in a van with all our gear, so we definitely rack up lots of miles!

Right now I am getting ready to hit the road once more. Our first event will be in San Jose, and you can see the Relic Tour calendar here: http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/calendar.html

I will be sharing my photography with all of you, which is one of my passions. I picked it up whilst working in a fishing boat in Alaska.

I took the following photograph in Santa Cruz, California. I got really lucky to get this shot of these pelicans flying low against the breaking waves. I was amazed that my camera was able to focus on the birds. This is one of my favorite shots.

The Flight for Light
For me, this image is symbolic of our timeless struggle to depart from suffering and ignorance towards genuine happiness, inner peace and wisdom. May all beings dwell in this state without delay!

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