Why Relics Glow

Why Relics Glow

Date of Advice:
April 2014
Date Posted:
March 2020

In this advice, Rinpoche discusses the relics of holy beings and advises that seeing the relics emit light depends on people’s karma and merit.

This stupa contains a relic and powerful mantras. When held over the water, it blesses all beings that go below it or are touched by its shadow. Photo: Holly Ansett, October 2016.

When Lama Tsongkhapa’s tooth fell out he gave it to his disciple, Khedrub Je.1 There were two heart disciples, Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Khedrub Rinpoche, and normally there are statues of Lama Tsongkhapa and his two disciples. Khedrub Rinpoche is the one who usually has his eyes open. So, nine relic [pills] came from that [tooth relic.]

When I was in Tibet [in 1987] I received one of those nine relics. It was quite big. Another group had that Lama Tsongkhapa relic and in Taiwan recently light came from the relic. Light shone from that relic.

It seems it affected the relics of the other Kadampa geshes, Lama Atisha and his disciples, then another one and another one, and then the last one, Geshe Lama Konchog’s relic, which was also glowing. That happened and then after one hour the light stopped.

The relics went to Korea and again light came from those relics, in the same way. The light started coming from Lama Tsongkhapa's relic through to the last one, Geshe Lama Khonchog’s relic. So many people came to do prostrations there.

Student: Rinpoche, why did they glow like that?

Rinpoche: I think recently, some time ago, there was one relic where that happened. A Buddha’s relic manifested out and many relics were produced. That happened. So, light came from the relic, just like this time when it happened [in Taiwan and Korea]. I think for the people at that time, those people coming to see this have good karma; they have especially good karma.

Student: They have the karma to see that and to have that experience?

Rinpoche: Yes, yes, yes. This is special and it happened due to their merit. I remember in San Francisco I met a woman at a restaurant and the owner of that restaurant, one Chinese man, said he had become a Buddhist. He went to some place, some temple somewhere, and he saw light coming out of a relic but only he saw it. He said that from that day on he became a Buddhist. So, it seems to be people’s karma. He had the merit to see that. So it’s like that. That’s unbelievable, that it happened. It helps.

I think it’s a spiritual education for many people who don’t know Dharma, to enlighten their mind—to enlighten, to dispel darkness, to enlighten the mind. Like that, to bring enlightenment. It causes, it starts to [bring] omniscience to their mind. From this they can find faith and gradually they are able to develop their mind, to develop wisdom, Dharma wisdom, and compassion. They can develop these things for all living beings and from that they are able to achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and achieve full enlightenment, by ceasing even the subtle defilements.


1 Read more about the original tooth relic and see an image of the relic pill offered to Lama Zopa Rinpoche when he was in Tibet in this Mandala magazine article, Feb–Mar 2007. [Return to text]