An enlightening discovery on the Richmond Bay Trail

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Thupten Donyo, the Buddhist monk who founded the Gyuto Foundation,
Thupten Donyo, the Buddhist monk who founded the Gyuto Foundation, blesses a small Buddha found discarded on the shoreline in Marina Bay in Richmond on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

By Mike Kinney

I always knew walking along Richmond’s scenic shoreline can be a spiritual experience – it certainly was for me recently.

This past summer, I took a stroll on the San Francisco Bay Trail in Marina Bay and came upon a 3-inch-tall Buddha statue abandoned along the shoreline.

I kept it and did nothing about it until Thursday, when I got a ride to the Tibetan Gyuto Foundation’s monastery at 6401 Bernhard Ave. in Richmond. There, I learned the little Buddha was both authentic and destined for a special blessing ceremony and a new home.

Thupten Donyo, the Buddhist monk who founded the Gyuto Foundation, examined my find and determined it was likely made in India, a model that would be exported to Buddhist families in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. He estimated the small Buddha statue to be around 50 years old.

Donyo then led me from his office to the monastery’s sanctuary, where hundreds of Buddhas sit before a large altar. 

Donyo performed a special ceremony to bless the Buddha, and also conducted a ceremony for me as well during which I was presented with a beautiful Buddhist silk white neck scarf meant to bless me with longevity of life and prosperity.

The experience was spiritually uplifting, and further proof that seeking out connections with nature and our neighbors can work wonders for one’s soul.

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