More lovingkindness

We drove to Sedona using some sketchy directions (yes, directions I found — which were apparently sketchy enough that The Cop declared, “Never get directions from a Buddhist!”) and eventually ended up on a narrow road at the top of a pinetree-covered hill in Sedona. There was snow on the ground and cars parked on both side of the street.

My Gift and her two roommates (let’s call them The Anthropology Grad Student and The Earnest Humorist) showed up a bit later (My Gift inherited my sense of direction).

We entered the grounds of the yoga center where the Relic Tour was housed. “One thing I notice about Buddhists,” The Cop said, “is that they dress poorly.” A fellow met us at the gate and directed us to a yurt where an instructional video about the Maitreya Project was playing.

We watched the video & then got on line to wait to be let into the building. Once in, we were directed to stand on line in front of a beautifully decorated table covered with flowers, brocade, flickering candles and shiny gold reliquaries. The Tibetans love their visuals.

There was chanting in the background and the sound of a nun blessing people.

While on line, we turned the prayer wheel and looked around. Finally, a man gestured for me and The Cop to approach a small statue of the Buddha that was standing in a glass container filled with saffron-water. We dipped wooden ladles into the water and poured it over the Buddha, holding in mind our spiritual masters, imagining the water as washing away our impurities and preparing ourselves to be open to the relics.

The relics were very intense. The video we saw showed monks, after presiding at a cremation, spooning relics out of the ashes.

Some of the relics looked like freshwater pearls, some like grains of rice. Others were perfectly spherical. Some were raisinet-shaped/sized (this was noted by The Anthropology Grad Student and The Earnest Humorist). Some were pure white, some pearly, and some amber. Some were cloudy, some opaque, and some clear.

If only I could burn up and leave just the tiniest perfect sphere. I found that such an inspiring thought — just one pinhead-sized sphere.

Some of the masters had many relic bits — Buddha was many rice-shaped ones.

And I loved the single container that held the relics of 500 Thai Arhats all mixed together.

Mahakashyapa (the first patriarch) was there!

Once when the World-Honored One in ancient times was upon Vulture Peak, he held up a flower before the assembly of monks. At this time all were silent. The Venerable Kashyapa alone broke into a smile. The World-Honored One said, “I have the All-Pervading Eye of the True Dharma, the Secret Heart of Incomparable Nirvana, the True Aspect of Formless Form. It does not rely on letters and is transmitted outside the scriptures. I now pass it on to Mahakashyapa.”

And Ananda, who I’ve always loved!

Ananda asked Mahakashyapa, “Buddha gave you the golden woven robe of successorship. What else did he give you?”
Kashapa said, “Ananda!”
“Yes!” answered Ananda.
“Knock down the flagpole at the gate!” said Kashyapa.

And Shariputra!

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.

form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness form.

The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.

Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.


10 Responses

  1. Hi Karen
    beautiful story and The Cop’s observation is very funny. monk’s robes can be beautiful in color, though. last week we saw a beautiful blue sash over a black robe on the monk that spoke to us. he said he received it while on a recent trip to Japan and he was debuting it that day, but that its beauty of significance should not go to his head.

  2. DZM made my comments far more, uh, mean-spirited than they were intended. And I certainly wasn’t talking about the monks; frankly, they all have an inner beauty that far outshines whatever they happen to be wearing. I was commenting on all the dirty hippies in attendance 😉

  3. LOL! Stop it.

    No, Arturo. He meant our fellow Buddhists (does that make it better, Cop?).

    This reminds me of my precepts ceremony. The Kwan Um school monks wear grey robes. My Gift, around 10 years old at the time, was accustomed to the Korean zen monks in their nondescript robes.

    A Tibetan lama was visiting the area and he attended the ceremony. As My Gift and I entered the zendo, she took a long look at the Tibetan monk in his saffron robes and exclaimed, “I *love* your outfit!”

  4. That sounds like a really great experience. I’m eager to visit Sedona. Do you find it as ‘charged’ (can’t think of a better word this early) as everyone says it is?

  5. The first time I went to Sedona I made a point of going to all of the places that are considered vortices of energy (and yes, you can get maps with them marked out!), but I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary.

    That said, we LOVE going to Sedona. There is something quite magical about it. So I guess it is more subtly magical than its marketing suggests… 🙂

  6. Hmmm. Thanks. I should be thinking of Kashyapa during kashyabasana…?

  7. Yes! Don’t say a word, just smile and accept the transmission. 🙂

  8. Beautiful post and story.

    I wouldn’t call the Sedonites “dirty” hippies so much as freaky hippies. Must be the vortices. Seriously.

    Whenever I am in town I take a little hike at Sycamore Canyon a ways to the north. Feels vortexy down there.

  9. Hmmm “Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.
    That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness form.” This is not correct at all. But who cares? (Form or Emptiness?) Rather: Form is form and emptiness is emptiness and leave it like that… I said the same comment 2,5 years ago. Some things never change, some things do change 🙂

    … all things are settled today… it’s DONE !!!!!!!!!!!!! (finally). like I had any choice 😉

    ……………Meine Damen und Herein,
    ………..Mesdames et Messieurs,
    ……..Ladies and Gentlemen;

    I, double aries, have completed the puzzle: MY PAIR IS ……. who else then……. MY TEACHER……. Honorable El See Door.

    Lets not forget what “PAIR” means:
    – two identical, similar, or corresponding things.
    – something consisting of or regarded as having two identical parts or pieces joined together.
    – two individuals who are similar or in some way associated.

    Done. 🙂

    M-E Thank You.

  10. The Cop commented? wow.
    Really nice post- I love artifacts of any kind, especially if they’re sort of Indiana Jones (am I being too irreverent?).
    Hilarious that the robe was called an outfit. That’s something I might have said. I like outfits.

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