Being part of the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism for such a long time it is only natural that certain aspects of the culture rub off onto one’s character after a while.
On nearly every temple shrine, and most shrines at people’s homes you would find a Buddha ‘rupa’ or image, flowers, candles, incense and a collection of personal spiritual memorabilia like a photo of a teacher and precious remains or relics.
The Buddha gave permission for the fragments of bone and ashes from his funeral pyre to be enshrined in stupas. These became focus points where devotees could offer respects and gratitude to their teacher who had passed away. Nowadays we see a vast array of relics enshrined in reliquaries of numerous shapes and sizes from vast mountainous structures in India, Tibet and all parts of South East Asia to tiny glass vessels high on a shrine shelf in a devotee’s home.
There is something very touching about preserving some element of a loved one or respected teacher in an elevated place, a venerated position in the home or temple as well as in the heart and mind. I know from my own experience how important it is to recollect my blessings and especially those beings that have helped me.
To take something that may be quite small, then pace it in an honorable position, safely and with reverence is the purpose of the reliquary. You might even keep your mother’s wedding ring in one alongside her photo? Some enshrine a lock of hair or a small stone from a memorable place spent together. Then on special days, anniversaries or as part of a daily practice we can offer incense, flowers or anything that helps to cement the feelings of gratitude and love for that person.
Many of my designs have an organic expression as they follow the contours of the wood and look wonderful next to flower arrangements.