While Buddhism has a very logical and philosophical side, it also has a faith-based side. In many ways, I find the latter more difficult to access. My empirical mind steps to the front, often blocking the metaphysical view. Sometimes that's okay. Other times, I think it's best if it stays on the sidelines. That's how I approached viewing the relics of Buddhist masters.
The Maitreya Projects Heart Shrine Relics Tour, which is at Maitripa College in Portland, OR, this weekend, can be a powerful experience for the faithful and even for those without. Beautifully displayed in Maitripa's Jokhong, I was surprise by how much they moved me.
From the [http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/|Maitreya Project] website:
The relics were found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. They resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe the relics are produced as a result of the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Since we can all develop these qualities, the relics are a reminder of our own essential nature of purity and our inner potential to manifest that.
Here are my [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyannamedia/sets/72157621830811928/|pictures] of the relics at Maitripa.