The visit to the Buddhist Centre was a very relaxing and educational experience. It is a religion that has always stirred great curiosity within me. So, this trip was very appealing on a personal level.
Upon arrival at the Buddhist Centre in town the building itself blended into the typical architecture of Dublin City and lacked any Buddhist characteristics, which you would expect to see. The room itself resembled a normal classroom. On the walls there were big pictures of Tibetan Buddha’s, full of fabulous color and designs. These pictures and other Tibetan decoration made this simple small room look very authentic and traditional. There was a television and flip board in the room, which showed that this place was also a centre for education. One point presented by our Buddhist guide, Bruno, was that Buddhism does not need a temple for it to function, a simple room like the one we were in will suffice.
He then went on to highlight two points about Buddhist teaching:
1) Tame the mind and open the heart
2) How to integrate peace of mind into everyday life.
The main teaching is to bring the peace inside each of us and engage it in the world. It is not simply meditating with our inner self. It is about enabling us to function in the world with a more peaceful frame of mind.
To begin with we sat on cushions around the room with our backs straight. We were also asked to begin meditating with our eyes open. This technique contrasts with the Meditation we are used to experiencing in the Christian tradition. Keeping our eyes open is used to help keep us aware of our surroundings and what is happening around us. Tibetan Buddhist believes that being able to see our surroundings keeps us in the present moment. Many people associate mediation with relaxation however, in Buddhism mediation is used to keep us alert and awake.
Also in contrast to Christian meditation Tibetan Buddhist hardly speak during meditation. The only noise we heard was the ringing of a Bell. Bruno hit this bell at the beginning of Meditating to draw our focus to something and also he rang it at the end to signal the end of meditating. The sound of the ringing bell was surprisingly soothing and peaceful.
He then went on to describe the artwork around the room. Buddhism as stated before by Bruno is about connecting with our inner self and “unleashing” it on the world. Why then do they need such elaborate artwork in the room? The artwork itself is traditional Tibetan Thangka paintings. The painters themselves dedicated their whole lives to painting this image. This is their form of meditation. The middle picture depicted the Buddha who discovered Buddhism in India 500 years before Jesus. The centre of the painting is called the Me lung which symbolizes a mirror. This reflects back to the individual and who they really are.
One aspect that was very interesting was the different pictures of the Tibetan Buddhist around the room. Bruno went on to explain that these were teachers of Buddhism. One female master or teacher passed away this year. She passed away meditating on her bed and she died still in her meditating position. According to Bruno her body never decayed even up until the day she was cremated. This along with reincarnation both contrast greatly with the beliefs of our Christian faith.
Overall this visit to the Buddhism Centre was enlightening and fascinating. It opened my eyes to a different approach towards meditating and a new frame of mind, one of peace and openness.