Sunday, 29 April 2012

Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre

I've driven past this Centre a couple of times in the past and have always been intrigued by it. So, as things were pretty quiet in the Lakes, I decided the other Sunday to have a little drive up and investigate. I had intended to drive the whole way up Eskdalemuir as it's a fine Scottish glen but just spent too much time here.

The building that now houses Samyé Ling was originally a hunting lodge called Johnstone House. In 1965 the Johnstone House Trust was formed with the objectives of making the lodge's facilities available to the general public for study and meditation based on Buddhist and other religious teaching. It was founded by two spiritual masters, Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to be established in the West and was named after Samye, the very first monastery to be established in Tibet.

The grounds are full of shrines, places for prayer and Stupas. The eight stupas line both sides of the entrance to Samye Ling next to the Butterlamp House (where1008 lamps are lit as a prayerful gesture of hope at 16:00 each day). When the Buddha died and passed into parinirvana (final liberation), his disciples cremated his body and interred his ashes in eight stupas, which were erected in different auspicious locations. Each stupa represent an important event in the life of the Buddha. The form and contents of the Stupa express the balance and purification of earth, water, fire, air and space.

 As you enter the peace garden there is a Cloutie tree with colourful cloths tied to its branches. It is seemingly both a Scottish and Tibetan custom to make a wish and then tie a coloured ribbon to the tree and as the cloth fades the wish is carried off by the elements and hopefully one day comes true.

Another interesting section was the Prayer Wheel House. The prayer wheels contain millions of mantras (short prayers) for peace and compassion which have been inscribed on paper soaked in saffron water and blessed in a special way. As you turn the prayer wheel clockwise it supposedly activates the blessing of the mantras, transmitting the energy of peace and compassion in all directions.

I would have liked to have gone into the Temple but there were prayers and meditation going on and it would have been intrusive so I decided to have a drink and something to eat in the Tibetan Tea Rooms instead. Unfortunately it was closed due to it being lunchtime........but apparently not my lunchtime! I bet you don't have that problem at Sid's Cafe in Holmfirth.Oh well, that's Buddhism for you. Although I did notice that the people who were praying in the Temple brought out tray after tray of free food and took it into the dinning room and everyone seemed to just pile in for it but with me just being a tourist, I felt as though I hadn't earned it!

I'm not a religious person but I really took to the serenity of the place. Everything seemed so peaceful and everyone was so friendly and polite which is a rarity these days. Mind you I think it's situation in a secluded Scottish glen may have had a lot to do with that.

Buddhism seems a very caring and harmless religion to me and the people do seem genuinely good; after all, I can't think of any wars being fought in the name of it can you?I spent a very enjoyable afternoon there.

The Victory Stupa

Prayer flag

Nagarjuna Statue in Pond

Prayer Wheel House

The Victory Stupa

Buddhist Statue

Cloutie tree

Peace Garden

Two of the Eight Stupa

Chenrezig Mantra in Tibetan script.

Medicine Tara statue

The Temple

The Victory Stupa.

Prayer Wheel House

Prayer Wheel House

The Peace Garden

The Peace Garden

Peace Garden

Prayer flags, Fairy Hill

Prayer bells.

Prayer flag

To Lochinver via Coigach

Again, I don't really think many words are needed for this blog. The photos tell the whole story of one of the best drives in the UK. ...