Pages

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sometimes the Weather Just Doesn't Matter!

Last Friday, June 15th, was my birthday. One of my dearest friends decided that my birthday present would be to take me to the Lake District for a special meal and over-night stay. Our venue was the Fayrer Garden House Hotel in Bowness. And a very beautiful setting it was -- despite the non-stop deluge of rain that persisted all that day and for most of the next...




It was my intention to use this post as a rant on the many years that my birthday has fallen on rainy, cold, miserable British summer days. Yes, indeed, I am taking this very personally. I grew up with a birthday almost guaranteed to be warm and sunny. England has never -- not ever -- cooperated. But at least this year I was surrounded by great beauty and luxurious surroundings. And I didn't have to leave the hotel for dinner as the restaurant was superb and the service friendly, but impeccable.

So I have decided to let the rant go -- The Good Lord willing, there is always next year ...

On Saturday we left to explore the area around Ulverston and to meet up with my friend's husband. They have decided to move from North Yorkshire to the Ulverston area in order to be near the Manjushri Kadama Meditation Centre. The centre is a modern Buddhist establishment dedicated to the attainment of world peace. I was absolutely fascinated by the visit.

The rambling gothic Conishead Priory was rescued from years of neglect and is being painstakinly restored by the residential community. The Buddhist Centre stands in 70 acres of grounds that include mature woodland, paths, a lake, streams and a beach on the shores of Morecambe Bay. The history of the ancient Priory is very interesting:
The present Priory building stands on the site of a twelfth century Augustinian Priory. It was originally founded in 1160 by Gamelde Pennington as a hospital for the ‘poor, decrepit, indigent and lepers’ of the Ulverston area. The hospital was run by the black canons of the Order of St. Augustine. They ate and slept under one roof, living a common life of poverty, celibacy and obedience in accordance with the example of the early Christians. They also conducted a school at Conishead for the children of their tenants and workers. (More history)
In 1997 on the site of the old Priory kitchen garden, the new Manjusri Kadampa Meditation Centre was opened. I was impressed by the underlying simplicity of the structure which seems to be able to describe the complexities of this world without succumbing to them. Every level is representative of something intrinsic to the attainment of spiritual enlightenment. There is a lot of symbolism within and without the Temple -- much more than I could possible remember let alone understand and properly describe. However, I do have a worthwhile example.

\

The male and female deer with the wheel between them symbolize the final stages of the path to enlightenment. They are above each of the  doors on the four sides of the temple. The male deer symbolizes the experience of great bliss; the female deer the realization of ultimate truth, and the wheel the union of these two realizations.

The adornments on the roof are gold-leafed, which required many weeks of work by Kadampa artisans, and the windows above the doorways are impregnated with gold. Precious substances such as gold are made as an offering to the holy beings. They also symbolize the preciousness of the spiritual path as the only way to achieve liberation from suffering and experience lasting peace and happiness. To a Buddhist, inner realizations such as wisdom and compassion are far more valuable than ordinary wealth.

I found the interior of the Temple to be very peaceful and calming. It surprised me how much it reminded me of the interior of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool. The people I met were very warm and welcoming. Unlike Christian churches, Buddhists do not have missionaries. They wait to be invited... They do, however, welcome all people who visit them. The Temple is open to everyone.  For more information about opening times you can visit their website.


While I found the experience very interesting and worthwhile, I was not comfortable with certain things -- especially the statuary and the ornate decoration of the different Buddhas. I was, however, intrigued by a very ornate 'mandala' with many objects of a symbolic nature and I loved the symbolism and effect of the large central lantern. One thing is for sure, modern Buddhism is here to stay. Centres all over the world are growing at a phenomenal rate and so therefore are prayers for peace and tranquillity -- that has to be a good thing...

29 comments:

  1. Hello Katherine:
    well, what a surprise. The Lake District clearly has some hidden secrets that we have known absolutely nothing about until today.

    What a very splendid and thoughtful birthday present you received from your friend. The hotel looks supremely comfortable and we are certain that the time will have just flown by there. These lovely hotels really do make one feel so pampered, just the ticket when the weather is not up to par.

    And, the Buddhist centre is most intriguing. It does look to be a very large building and the congregations do sound as if they are substantial. A rather different state of affairs from many Anglican churches on a Sunday we are sad to reflect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The hotel was a real gem -- wonderful staff and very luxurious comfort! Speaking of hotels -- or rather 'writing' of hotels -- I spent so long looking over the Brody hotel you wrote about that I never got back to comment on your wonderful blog last night!! Too busy trying to think of way to entice The Man to take us there!

    The Buddhist centre was actually limited in size by the local planning council -- who did not want too ostentatious a building to be seen from the road!!! At a meeting last summer over 4,000 people attended. Too accommodate them all marquees had to be set up on all sides of the building. That is pretty impressive I would say!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It does sound as if you celebrated your birthday in excellent style. The hotel looks lovely, but what a shame that it seems you are required to celebrate birthdays in England in miserable weather. I am fascinated by the temple, and yes, it really does have the look of the Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. Although I've spent time in the area I was completely unaware of it, and will make an effort to visit when I can. Any passport news yet ? best wishes, J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhhh, the weather here! We just had two glorious sunny days here and now the rain is setting up shop yet again! I think you would find the Temple and Priory very interesting -- cafe has great cakes, too!

      As for the passport -- I have my appointment at the embassy on 29 June at 7.45 a.m.! Fortunately, I am able to stay with my niece in Bayswater so it should not be too difficult to get there on time! After that it could take up to 4 weeks. The documentation I've had to gather together is unbelievable, but I think I've got my ducks in a row at last!

      Delete
  4. Happy birthday! What a nice gift...the hotel and grounds look to be quite beautiful--and I enjoyed the interesting post/photos about the Buddhist center!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy belated birthday Broad. The hotel looks fabulous...so glad you had a great time, despite the miserable weather. Given the huge Japanese presence in Hawaii, we have many Buddhist Temples here...they all are quite lovely. I went to a Buddhist service once for a comparative religion class I was taking...the incense nearly choked me to death. Don't know how Buddhists can handle it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting about the incense. I didn't smell even a whiff of it. Thanks for the belated birthday wishes -- much appreciated!

      Delete
  6. Dear Broad, the hotel does look inviting--both beautiful and luxurious, as you said. The Buddhist temple/center also looks inviting. I find some aspects of Buddhism quite attractive--the being present to the moment; the living consciously; the centering of energy within the deep center of ourselves and within our breath.

    And as you say, to have centers around the world praying for peace is a great and glorious thing. A boon to all humanity.

    Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to have had you there, Dee. I think you would have found the place and the people very inspiring.

      Delete
  7. Belated Happy Birthday. What a great present, the hotel looks lovely. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos with us. Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Diane. Glad you enjoyed them!

      Delete
  8. Happy belated birthday, dear Broad. What an unforgettable birthday experience your friend came up with. You are so right, the weather didn't matter much, everything was just so interesting and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just goes to show that the really important things are about people.

      Delete
  9. This is such a nice hotel and who cares about the rain when you can stay somewhere like this. Happy Birthday!

    I love the Buddhists but I've never understood all the glitter with the Buddha either. I asked a monk one time and he said it was originally done for the masses as an attraction, rather the same as the Catholics with Mary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I asked one of the guides about the glitter -- said I was a bit uncomfortable with it, and he said that it appealed to those with other religious histories -- such as Hindus, for example -- which goes right along with what you said about the veneration of Mary.

      Delete
  10. Guess what, Friday the 15th was my birthday too! Happy Birthday to us.

    You got more in the way of treats than I did, I'd have loved a stay at a comfortable hotel and an amble around interesting places. It's best not to depend on the weather in 'flaming' June in the UK but to go ahead and do things regardless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Happy Birthday to us, Friko! The only other time I've been taken away for my birthday was for my 50th. We were living near Munich at the time and I was surprised the night before with a surprise trip to Rome. I will have to write a post about it some day as the best laid plans (lunch surprise in Florence) was a complete fiasco!

      Delete
  11. happy birthday! would love to visit a Buddha temple..I think it would be fascinating! a thoughtful gift for you!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, momto8, it's lovely to see you here. Like your blog very much and have become a follower. And thanks for the birthday wishes, too!

      Delete
  12. Happy Birthday. The Buddha temple looks incredible. So, are you thirty-nine yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The Buddhist temple was indeed amazing! I'm not sure about the thirty-nine -- I've forgotten how to count!

      Delete
  13. Glad that you found a solution to the ever recurring problem of bad weather on your birthday. The hotel looks splendid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am hoping that the weather for June 15th has rained itself out for the next several years! Last weekend was a doozy!

      Delete
  14. Happy belated birthday Kathie, and many happy and sunny returns of the day! Martine

    ReplyDelete
  15. G'day Broad. Belated birthday wishes. Glad to see that you had a terrific day. Lovely photos. Take care. Liz...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Even more belated birthday wishes from Normandy, Broad. What very thoughtful friends you have to give you such an unusual and interesting treat.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am including this comment from Vagabonde that she made in a later post as she refers to this post in it...

    Vagabonde07 July, 2012 04:02
    I enjoyed reading your diverse posts. It is an undertaking to remodel an older French house – my father did several and I always tried to stay away from him at the time…

    About your time at the US Embassy – what a difference with the French one. I went to renew my French passport and they did not even look in my purse. I did have a camera in it at the time and never thought a thing about it. They just asked my name and let me in.

    I enjoyed your trip to the Buddhist temple, but what type of Buddhism was it? Buddhism is like Christianity, there are many types. For example going into a Christian church – it could be Mormon, Catholic, Methodist, Charismatic, 7-Day Adventist, Lutheran, Anglican and many more, and they are all a bit different. Well, it is the same in Buddhism – they can be Mahayana, Theravada, Zen, Tantrayana, Shambhala Buddhism, Nichiren, Pure Land and many other. From your description I think it was a Tibetan Buddhist temple as they are more ornate than the others. I visited a non-denominational Buddhist temple in Kahaluu on Oahu Hawaii and it was almost bare on the inside with just one statue of the Buddha. So it does make a difference.

    ReplyDelete

    The Broad07 July, 2012 14:43
    Thank you, Vagabonde. Fortunately, the remodelling of the house in France has been fairly limited in scope! And most of it has been done without my presence being required!

    According to the brochure I acquired at the Buddhist temple it is Kadampa Buddhism. "Kadampa Buddhism is a special tradition of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Atisha (982-1054 CE), an Indian Buddhist Master largely responsible for the reintroduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the eleventh century. 'Ka' refers to all Buddha's Sutra and Tantra teachings, and 'dam' refers to Atisha's special instructions called the 'Stages of the Path', or Lamrim in Tibetan."

    I think I would have been more comfortable with just one statue of the Buddha... Apparently, the Bronze Buddha in the temple I visited is the largest bronze statue of Buddha ever made in the West...

    ReplyDelete

    ReplyDelete

Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!