Jamyang’s website describes this:
'The Old Courthouse was originally a Police Court, which later became a Magistrates Court and is the oldest surviving, intact, Victorian Police Court in London. Until it was opened in 1869, there was no regular place where a magistrate sat in Lambeth.'
The fascinating story of the transformation of a place of judgment and incarceration into a Buddhist centre teaching compassion and liberation is also described on the web site.
I had come to meet Jane Sill, Jamyang’s NBO representative on Tuesday the 15th August, but due to an email mix up, found myself drinking a peppermint tea in the café and wondering who to talk to. Fortunately and to my great surprise, an ex-work colleague, John Bonnell, who I had not seen for about five years, appeared, led me to the Jamyang offices, and introduced me to Di Carroll, the Director.
We sat in the courtyard and discussed some of the issues facing Jamyang and the NBO. Jamyang has good relationships with the local community and the Council, and other Buddhist organizations, and is well known in UK Buddhism. It hosts a great number of activities, including meditation teaching, open days, a range of classes on many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, special events on themes such as ‘Dying Well’, and community activities such as sponsored walks and Healthy Cooking Workshops. The centre is very welcoming, and includes a library, shrine room, Courtyard Café (currently closed), a large meeting room for hire, and limited accommodation.
Generally speaking, Di thought that Jamyang functioned very well. Perhaps one area that could improve was publicity, especially in the local area; Jamyang has a lot to offer and although many local people attend, this could be still greater. Jamyang is a member of the Foundation for the preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) and follows the Gelugpa tradition as taught by the founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Di was not very familiar with the NBO and we discussed its role as neutral information and networking ‘hub’ between Buddhist organizations in the UK. Not all NBO members are entirely comfortable with every other member on the NBO ‘hub’, but maintaining dialogue between groups was a core purpose of the NBO. The alternative is to reject certain groups and to have a much more selective membership.
This might be required at some point, but leads to a more polarized and sectarian situation: and also a more complex situation. I think we should be aware that Buddhism in the UK is relatively new and still evolving. The situation is not a static one. Groups are changing and redefining themselves. Especially at such a time, interaction between groups is to be encouraged so that good practice can be communicated and less helpful practices identified at an early stage.
After our discussion I was fortunate to meet Geshe Tashi Tsering, Jamyang’s resident teaching and to share a meal with him and the Jamyang workers and volunteers.
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