Maitreya Project Update, April 2010
- Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relic Tour
- Maitreya Education Project
- Progress in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India
"I did not believe in miracles, but I do now... Everything was like the buddhas were really there, acting. It felt like the buddhas were showing us to trust and have confidence - anything that is for the good and benefit, they help."
- Harold Schofield, Lima, Peru, event organiser, February 2010
Healing in Hiroshima, Japan
In February 2010, the relics were displayed at Taiko-ji Temple in Hiroshima. This new temple complex, established on the grounds of a 600 year old temple, is located on the crest of a mountain overlooking the city. The commanding, 360-degree view reinforced the feeling that the positive energy of the relics was blessing everyone in Hiroshima.
The relics visited the Peace Memorial Park where prayers were offered at the epicentre of the devastating atomic bomb blast of August, 1945. A second ceremony was held at the graves of the unidentified victims.
At Taiko-ji Temple, some survivors from the bomb attended and received blessings from the relics. Ms Une Toshie (pictured), who was 28 years old when the bomb hit, is very famous in Hiroshima. At the time of the devastation, she helped a lot of people by finding water for them. Ever since then she has made water offerings at the memorial site. She gives lectures and campaigns to end nuclear weapons.
Andy Melnic and Ven Siliana Bosa, Asia Relic Tour Managers commented, "The experience of being in Hiroshima was intense but it was very beneficial to bring the relics there. In our current world, where there are still so many nuclear weapons existing, it is important to remember the events of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
Colombia's President Visits the Relics
Meanwhile, the South America Relic Tour opened in Bogota, Colombia. It was an auspicious beginning, with many people spilling from the venue onto the street as they queued to see the relics. At the Opening Ceremony, the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe was ushered in. He made a Buddha Bath offering to the statue of the baby Buddha, showed great interest in the relics, traced some words of the Sanghata Sutra in gold ink and was blessed with the relics of Shakyamuni Buddha.
We don't know what benefits this presidential visit will eventually bring to Colombia, but we do know that blessings touched the hearts of 4,000 Colombian people and many animals. In Cali, 1,600 people came to see the relics. This was the second event in Cali organised by one lady who commented:
"I want to continue taking part in the diffusion of this wonderful Maitreya Project that benefits so many beings freely."
- Lucero Rodriguez, Cali, Colombia, event organiser, February 2010
At Fundación Dharma, a non-profit Cancer Foundation for Children, in Bogota, Colombia, children and adults received the warmth of the presence of the relics.
A Rainbow in Peru
In Cusco, Peru local people suffered flooding and nearly 11,000 homes were washed away. However the organisers in Cusco and Lima, Peru worked hard to keep preparing for the arrival of the holy relics. One organiser, Miguel Cordero commented, "We faced a lot of obstacles... At the beginning it seemed it was almost impossible to deal with...but, as Cristian (the Americas Relic Tour Manager) told us, 'Don't worry, the relics will take care of everything' - and it was true." At the end of the Cusco relic event a rainbow appeared around the sun (pictured).
"Everyone says rainbows are auspicious buddha signs... On the last day, over the roof of the venue, there was a huge rainbow around the sun. Many people took pictures. To see this sign at the end was fantastic."
- Harold Schofield, Peru, February 2010
In March, the Relic Tour visited Phuket, Thailand. Andy Melnic, Asia Relic Tour Manager, gave a presentation which you can watch on YouTube - Karuna Meditation in Phuket - Buddhist Relics Info.MP4
"The best world peace news"
In March 2010, the relics went to Malaysia for an event hosted by the FPMT centre in Penang, the Chokyi Gyaltsen Group. Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Maitreya Project and FPMT, sent this message:
"Thank you very much, a billion zillion times. What a great blessing there is in Penang. You must realise that the actual Buddha is there, especially at Chokyi Gyaltsen Centre where they are very, very lucky to receive the Buddha's relics, other enlightened beings' relics, great holy beings' relics. By the way, this is the best world peace news."
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche, March 2010
53 Countries So Far...
The Relic Tour has now visited 53 countries and more than 500 different venues. Approximately 1.3 million visitors have been blessed by the relics.
To see more images from these events, please visit www.maitreyaproject.org.
For information about Relic Tour events for the remainder of 2010, please visit the Relic Tour Calendar, which is also on the website.
Update: Maitreya Universal Education School, Bodhgaya, Bihar State, India
It is with great regret that we have to announce the Maitreya Universal Education School (MUES) in Bodhgaya, India, will not reopen for the school year 2010/2011. (The school year 2009/2010 was completed on 23rd March 2010.) However, as we will discuss in more detail below, Maitreya Project has arranged for all of the MUES students and teachers to transition to a new school so that there is no interruption in the students' education and our teachers will continue to be employed.
The Maitreya Universal Education School will remain closed until such time as it can re-locate to new premises and finalise agreement with a major sponsor to underwrite the continuing development of the Maitreya Education Project.
For a combination of reasons, it became impossible for Maitreya Education Project to continue the school in its current location. A number of major unforeseen difficulties have arisen which have seriously frustrated the smooth operation of MUES:
- A major obstacle for the school has been the recently implemented master plan for Bodhgaya. It results directly from the Bodhgaya Stupa having been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Under this new master plan, Maitreya Project's land has been re-zoned as agricultural and parkland. For the time being, pending appeals, this prevents construction of a school, and we are therefore currently unable to construct new school buildings on our own land.
- Secondly, for the last 10 years, the school has operated out of leased premises on land owned by Root Institute. In 2004, MUES contracted with Root Institute to purchase the site, but was never able to fully fund and complete the purchase. Accordingly for the last six years, the Project has continued operation, while intending to move the school from its currently leased premises onto its own land in Bodhgaya as soon as circumstances permitted. In the meantime, Root Institute has continued to plan an important new project for the site they have been leasing to MUES, which is the opening of a home for HIV affected orphans. This will provide orphans with accommodation and primary education and will be operated by Root Institute.
- During the last several school years MUES has been running a significant financial deficit despite two urgent appeals to our incredibly generous and loyal supporters during 2009. Whatever funds have been donated have therefore been fully utilised for the school with no residual surplus whatsoever. With insufficient support specifically for MUES, Maitreya Project's general fund has been underwriting the school to a point where a major new source of funding must be secured.
We are actively pursuing new major funding sources and, fortunately, this appears close to resolution, but not in time for the school year 2010/2011. However, the lack of a new site for the school continues to present a major additional obstacle.
Thus, the combined effect of the new building restrictions and lack of suitable premises, as well as a shortage of funding, have forced us to suspend the operation of the school for the time being.
As and when the new funding source and new land, or special planning permission for our existing land, become available we will review as quickly as possible plans for reopening a new school on a new site.
Whilst the Maitreya Universal Education School has been renting the site from Root Institute and has been paying a monthly ground rent, the capital cost of additions to the school buildings and facilities has been borne by MUES. A professional valuation of building additions and improvements, at current market rates, has been undertaken. Root Institute will compensate Maitreya Education Project for this value which will be applied towards the settling of outstanding MUES debts, obligations, and the re-establishment of MUES as quickly as possible.
Current Maitreya Education Project Donations
Some of our donors have instructed regular standing order payments from their banks or credit cards. In the event they wish to cancel their standing orders we fully understand. The instructions for doing so are as follows:
If you signed up on our website to make a monthly credit card donation to the Maitreya Education Project over our website, and wish to cancel this agreement, you may do so easily.
When you first signed up for monthly payments, you received an email from our bankers, RBS Worldpay, with details of how to cancel your account. If you cannot find this email, simply follow the instructions below.
Full instructions on how to log into your account, and cancel your agreement once logged in, can be found here:
If you cannot cancel your agreement for some reason, please email us at - firstname.lastname@example.org - and we will be pleased do this for you. Please note, that we cannot cancel your agreement unless you include either your Agreement ID number, or a Transaction Reference number, both of which have been sent to you by email from RBS Worldpay every month when your card has been debited.
As Maitreya Education Project will continue as soon as this situation is resolved, in case donors wish to maintain their standing orders to assist through this difficult period, that will be greatly appreciated and those funds will be held in trust and applied towards the re-launch of MUES.
Thank You All So Much
We remain indebted to all those who have so kindly and generously supported the Maitreya Universal Education School during its development. On behalf of the hundreds of students who have benefited to date, and who will benefit in the future, we thank you all for your extraordinary generosity and support past, present, and future.
The New Bhansali Trust School
The Bhansali Trust has agreed to take on all of the students and teachers from the Maitreya Universal Education School, in a new school under its own banner. Maitreya Project has a long association with the Bhansali Trust, who run the very successful bi-annual 'Eye Camp' in Bodhgaya, in which our school children have participated as volunteers for many years. (For more information about the contributions of MUES students to Bhansali Trust's Eye Camps, please see our earlier Update: http://maitreyabuddha.org/en/updates/2008-10-ue.html#6 )
The Bhansali Trust have been considering opening their own school in Bodhgaya for some time, and the temporary closure of the Maitreya Universal Education School has afforded them the opportunity to begin with trained teachers and a student base which will be fully functional from day one.
The Trust will operate in rented premises whilst constructing their own school buildings over the next six months. This ensures the uninterrupted continuation of the MUES students' education as well as continued employment for our teachers.
Maitreya Project has offered all furniture, books, computers, laboratory equipment and other educational materials from MUES to the Bhansali Trust.
Maitreya Project wish the Bhansali Trust, and all of the students and teachers, the very best for the continued successful operation of their new school in Bodhgaya.
In January 2010, members of Maitreya Project met with the Culture Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Awanish K. Awasthi. The meeting included the executive director of Maitreya Project Trust Tony Simmons, Maitreya Project advocate Atul Chopra, trustees from Maitreya Project Trust, and friend of Maitreya Project Richard Gere. Mr Awasthi presented a plan and timetable for the state government to identify final land site boundaries that are agreeable to all stakeholders.
In a series of meetings since then, which have been held daily in Lucknow, further progress has been made. Our understanding directly from state government is that the timetable for handover is now approximately June 2010. The fact that such an announcement has been made directly to representatives of Maitreya Project and also published widely in state government press releases indicates that Maitreya Project should soon be in a position to take possession of the landsite in Kushinagar.
There have been many reasons why this process has been long and drawn out. Some of these reasons have been presented already and they include the difficult circumstances involved in dealing with the state government responsible for over 150 million people in an essentially rural and poor part of India. A system of 'office rotation' that occurs within the Indian Administrative Service is frequently implemented and hinders continuity. Politics also plays a part. Nevertheless, this year, 2010, has seen strong determination from the side of the State Government of Uttar Pradesh as well as, of course, Maitreya Project to bringing this issue to full resolution.
The landsite itself is extraordinary being adjacent to the shrine marking the place where Buddha Shakyamuni passed away in final nirvana and the Ramabhar Stupa, which is the site of Buddha Shakyamuni's cremation.
As soon as Maitreya Project is in possession of the land there is a team ready to move swiftly to remobilise engineering and implement the education and healthcare projects in Kushinagar.