The remarkable Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, seen by more than 2.5m people around the world, is coming to University College Cork next weekend thanks to Ballydehob-based Richard Walsh.
He was so moved by the experience of seeing the relics in Holland last year, he decided to do what he could to get them to Ireland, and to Cork in particular.
“I’m not a Buddhist, but I was so impressed with the feeling I experienced after attending the exhibition,” says Richard. “I came away with an amazing sense of peace and compassion — it is inexplicable.
“And I just thought that Cork has to have a sense of this. So I phoned a friend of mine Peter Tadd, and we set about organising the event.
“I would encourage people to come along and experience it for themselves.”
The mysterious crystal relics of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born in Nepal 2,500 years ago and upon whose teachings Buddhism was founded, are the main feature of the exhibition.
Buddhists believe the relics embody Buddha’s spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom and that they were deliberately produced by him at his death — the relics are said to have been found amongst his cremation ashes.
These relics will be on display alongside the relics of dozens of other great Buddhist masters from India, Tibet, and China.
The relics tour was created in 2001 by Buddhist master Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of the tour. Backed by the Dalai Lama, it has so far visited 68 countries.
Since 2010, the relics have been studied by Stanford University physicist William A Tiller and former long-term Mayo clinic faculty member Nisha J Manek.
Their work found the atom-molecules in the space around the relics are ordered in a more coherent way than when the relics are not present.
Mr Walsh says people often report experiences of inspiration and healing when they are in the presence of the relics.
He stressed that the tour is free, multi-faith, and multi-cultural, and is not an attempt to convert people to Buddhism. It is open to people from all walks of life and faith.
The relics will be on display in UCC’s Aula Maxima from 6pm on Friday, which will include an opening ceremony led by the Venerable Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche, the only rinpoche or Buddhist holy man living in Ireland. The exhibition continues Saturday 10am-7pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm.