Eskdalemuir, Scotland -- A MONK in burgundy robes smiles as he chants a melodic Tibetan prayer to the sound of drumbeat and horn. The monastery, which was established in 1967 on the site of a former Buddhist centre, is the first and largest of its kind in the West.
Although the design is traditionally Tibetan, the materials mostly came from local sources, partly because the monastery aims to be a product of its environment, but also for practical reasons.
The temple is the heart of the monastery, where prayer and meditation sessions are carried out at regular intervals every day, as well as on special occasions.
Meals are an important part of monastery life, and we are taken into the newly built kitchen and dining area for a hearty pasta lunch. Outside in the Garden for World Peace, the stupa (or shrine) is a startling white and gold against the green hills behind. The monastery brings in much-needed revenue through courses, accommodation, sales from its shop and traditional tearoom, and donations. But the positive, calm, Buddhist energy that everyone in the centre seems to exude is infectious, and it also appears likely that somehow it will be possible to create the Abbot's vision of a full Tibetan monastery in Scotland.


Prayer wheels bearing thousands of mantras for compassion and purification, silently turn in their brass tubes, and on either side of a smiling golden Buddha, dragons weave around pillars, colourful jewels glinting amongst their scales.
The Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre is a surprising find, nestled among the rolling hills of Dumfries and Galloway, near the tiny village of Eskdalemuir. She has a shaved head and wears the traditional burgundy robes, although the Scottish climate means she has added a burgundy hooded top and padded jacket to keep warm. Abbot Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, the energetic presence behind much of Samye Ling, leads morning meditations, while nuns or monks lead the prayer sessions, which are open to the public and held before breakfast, after lunch and following supper.
The atmosphere is convivial and bustling as monks, nuns and several members of the public, who are part of a weekend meditation course, sit down together.
This symbol of peace represents the mind of the Buddha and is thought to restore balance and transform negative energy.
Around 3,000 people visit Samye Ling each year, an economic boost which has helped to woo initially suspicious locals, and is vital for the continued existence of the centre and its charitable work around the world.
9, 2003, after 30+ years as a Nichiren Buddhist, Lynda Caine-Barrett (now named Myokei, Wonderful Virtue) of Houston, became the first female of African descent (as well as the very first person of African-Japanese descent) to be ordained by any Nichiren School as she took her initial vows (tokudo) as an acolyte (shamini) under the Rev.


It is the first part of a three-stage project to build an authentic monastery, which will include accommodation, kitchen and dining facilities, a library of rare texts in English and Tibetan, a museum, lecture hall, audio-visual department and administrative offices.
She explains that the temple, like other parts of the monastery, was built and decorated mostly by volunteers, many of whom had to learn their crafts especially for the job.
Ani Lhamo enthusiastically encourages us to eat as much as we like, although she savours the small amount on her plate. Behind it, an unfinished prayer wheel house will include 45 copper prayer wheels, each with around 40 million mantras inside.
The ceiling is tiled with intricately painted Tibetan drawings and the walls are painted in bright, primary colours.
The impressive statues, an ornate new gate and several administrative and accommodation buildings require ongoing maintenance and the unfinished third phase of the monastery requires around £7 million, which has not yet been raised.



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