Inner peace leads to world peace

The monks and nuns of Samye Ling are active in working with other faiths, and are keen to spread the

Since its beginning forty years ago, Kagyu Samye Ling has pursued three main areas of activity; namely spirituality, health and charity. The spiritual aspect is immediately evident in the Buddhist teachings, prayers and meditation practice which are on offer throughout the year.

As well as being a spiritual teacher, Akong Tulku Rinpoche is also a doctor of Tibetan Medicine. One of his main aims has been to preserve this vast area of healing for the benefit of all beings. Under his direction a fully accredited system of psychotherapy has evolved in which Buddhist philosophy combines with Western therapy to create a holistic system aimed at relieving mental and physical suffering to bring about a more balanced and joyful state of being. It is run under the auspices of Tara Rokpa Therapy, which now has branches throughout the UK and around the world.

Rokpa is the Tibetan word for help. It is also the name of our charity which was originally set up to help Tibetan refugees, but now has branches in many countries which raise funds for hundreds of projects in Africa, Nepal and in Tibet itself. The projects range from orphanages, schools and clinics to cultural and environmental preservation projects in remote areas where no other help may be available.

Interfaith relations are also an important part of Samye Ling’s activities and Akong Rinpoche’s brother, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche who is Abbot of Samye Ling and a prominent member of the Interfaith Council, works with leading representatives from all major faiths to promote harmony and understanding. One of his main projects has been the acquisition and development of Holy Island, off the west coast of Scotland, where he has built a long term retreat Centre at the south end of the island and the magnificent interfaith Centre for World Peace and Health at the north end. The Centre was built with great sensitivity to the unique ecology of Holy Island, with its profusion of wildlife, flora and fauna, using environmentally friendly materials and technology. People of all faiths and nationalities come to enjoy a variety of therapeutic courses or simply unwind in the pure, natural environment.

These two indefatigable Tibetan brothers work constantly to benefit beings in whatever way is most appropriate. As Akong Rinpoche says, “People in the West rarely suffer from physical hunger but their minds may be undernourished or stressed therefore therapy and meditation can be very valuable to restore mental health and balance.” Their immediate goals are to complete the Samye Ling Monastery complex with the building of an educational wing, and to establish a substantial Tibetan Buddhist Centre of Peace and Health in Edinburgh.

With a large population of Buddhists and people of other faiths interested in meditation, therapy, interfaith and cultural activities the Scottish capital would provide fertile ground for such a Centre to flourish. A suitable property has already been identified. It is now a matter of raising funds to enable it to happen. It is said that, “to build temples and places where wisdom, truth and compassion flourish will generate much virtue which will last as long as even one stone or brick of the building continues to exist.”

If you would like to help or you wish to know more about this or any of the projects mentioned, you can contact Ani Rinchen Khandro on Tel.013873 73232 ext. 241

Ani Rinchen Khandro is a life ordained nun in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. She is based at Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Scotland where she has lived for the past fourteen years, apart from the three and a half years she spent in closed retreat on Holy Island. She recently wrote a book in honour of the Centre’s fortieth anniversary, entitled Kagyu Samye Ling - The Story, which is available for purchase online.
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Leaving the cleaning to someone else makes you happier? Men have known that for centuries

Research says avoiding housework is good for wellbeing, but women have rarely had the option.

If you want to be happy, there is apparently a trick: offload the shitwork onto somebody else. Hire cleaner. Get your groceries delivered. Have someone else launder your sheets. These are the findings published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but it’s also been the foundation of our economy since before we had economics. Who does the offloading? Men. Who does the shitwork? Women.

Over the last 40 years, female employment has risen to almost match the male rate, but inside the home, labour sticks stubbornly to old patterns: men self-report doing eight hours of housework a week, while women slog away for 13. When it comes to caring for family members, the difference is even more stark: men do ten hours, and women 23.

For your average heterosexual couple with kids, that means women spend 18 extra hours every week going to the shops, doing the laundry, laying out uniform, doing the school run, loading dishwashers, organising doctors' appointments, going to baby groups, picking things up, cooking meals, applying for tax credits, checking in on elderly parents, scrubbing pots, washing floors, combing out nits, dusting, folding laundry, etcetera etcetera et-tedious-cetera.

Split down the middle, that’s nine hours of unpaid work that men just sit back and let women take on. It’s not that men don’t need to eat, or that they don’t feel the cold cringe of horror when bare foot meets dropped food on a sticky kitchen floor. As Katrine Marçal pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smiths Dinner?, men’s participation in the labour market has always relied on a woman in the background to service his needs. As far as the majority of men are concerned, domestic work is Someone Else’s Problem.

And though one of the study authors expressed surprise at how few people spend their money on time-saving services given the substantial effect on happiness, it surely isn’t that mysterious. The male half of the population has the option to recruit a wife or girlfriend who’ll do all this for free, while the female half faces harsh judgement for bringing cover in. Got a cleaner? Shouldn’t you be doing it yourself rather than outsourcing it to another woman? The fact that men have even more definitively shrugged off the housework gets little notice. Dirt apparently belongs to girls.

From infancy up, chores are coded pink. Looking on the Toys “R” Us website, I see you can buy a Disney Princess My First Kitchen (fuchsia, of course), which is one in the eye for royal privilege. Suck it up, Snow White: you don’t get out of the housekeeping just because your prince has come. Shop the blue aisle and you’ll find the Just Like Home Workshop Deluxe Carry Case Workbench – and this, precisely, is the difference between masculine and feminine work. Masculine work is productive: it makes something, and that something is valuable. Feminine work is reproductive: a cleaned toilet doesn’t stay clean, the used plates stack up in the sink.

The worst part of this con is that women are presumed to take on the shitwork because we want to. Because our natures dictate that there is a satisfaction in wiping an arse with a woman’s hand that men could never feel and money could never match. That fiction is used to justify not only women picking up the slack at home, but also employers paying less for what is seen as traditional “women’s work” – the caring, cleaning roles.

It took a six-year legal battle to secure compensation for the women Birmingham council underpaid for care work over decades. “Don’t get me wrong, the men do work hard, but we did work hard,” said one of the women who brought the action. “And I couldn’t see a lot of them doing what we do. Would they empty a commode, wash somebody down covered in mess, go into a house full of maggots and clean it up? But I’ll tell you what, I would have gone and done a dustman’s job for the day.”

If women are paid less, they’re more financially dependent on the men they live with. If you’re financially dependent, you can’t walk out over your unfair housework burden. No wonder the settlement of shitwork has been so hard to budge. The dream, of course, is that one day men will sack up and start to look after themselves and their own children. Till then, of course women should buy happiness if they can. There’s no guilt in hiring a cleaner – housework is work, so why shouldn’t someone get paid for it? One proviso: every week, spend just a little of the time you’ve purchased plotting how you’ll overthrow patriarchy for good.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.