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.
Photo:Getty
Show Hide image

Why isn't Labour putting forward Corbynite candidates?

Despite his successes as a candidate, the organisational victories have gone the way of Corbyn's opponents. 

The contest changes, but the result remains the same: Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred candidate defeated in a parliamentary selection. Afzhal Khan is Labour’s candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election and the overwhelming favourite to be the seat’s next MP.

Although Khan, an MEP, was one of  the minority of Labour’s European MPs to dissent from a letter from the European parliamentary Labour party calling for Jeremy Corbyn to go in the summer of 2016, he backed Andy Burnham and Tom Watson in 2015, and it is widely believed, fairly or unfairly, that Khan had, as one local activist put it, “the brains to know which way the wind was blowing” rather than being a pukka Corbynite.

For the leader’s office, it was a double defeat;  their preferred candidate, Sam Wheeler, was kept off the longlist, when the party’s Corbynsceptics allied with the party’s BAME leadership to draw up an all ethnic minority shortlist, and Yasmine Dar, their back-up option, was narrowly defeated by Khan among members in Manchester Gorton.

But even when the leadership has got its preferred candidate to the contest, they have been defeated. That even happened in Copeland, where the shortlist was drawn up by Corbynites and designed to advantage Rachel Holliday, the leader’s office preferred candidate.

Why does the Labour left keep losing? Supporters combination of bad luck and bad decisions for the defeat.

In Oldham West, where Michael Meacher, a committed supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s, was succeeded by Jim McMahon, who voted for Liz Kendall, McMahon was seen to be so far ahead that they had no credible chance of stopping him. Rosena Allin-Khan was a near-perfect candidate to hold the seat of Tooting: a doctor at the local hospital, the seat’s largest employer, with links to both the Polish and Pakistani communities that make up the seat’s biggest minority blocs.  Gillian Troughton, who won the Copeland selection, is a respected local councillor.

But the leadership has also made bad decisions, some claim.  The failure to get a candidate in Manchester Gorton was particularly egregious, as one trade unionist puts it: “We all knew that Gerald was not going to make it [until 2020], they had a local boy with good connections to the trade unions, that contest should have been theirs for the taking”. Instead, they lost control of the selection panel because Jeremy Corbyn missed an NEC meeting – the NEC is hung at present as the Corbynsceptics sacrificed their majority of one to retain the chair – and with it their best chance of taking the seat.

Others close to the leadership point out that for the first year of Corbyn’s leadership, the leader’s office was more preoccupied with the struggle for survival than it was with getting more of its people in. Decisions in by-elections were taken on the hop and often in a way that led to problems later down the line. It made sense to keep Mo Azam, from the party’s left, off the shortlist in Oldham West when Labour MPs were worried for their own seats and about the Ukip effect if Labour selected a minority candidate. But that enraged the party’s minority politicians and led directly to the all-ethnic-minority shortlist in Manchester Gorton.

They also point out that the party's councillor base, from where many candidates are drawn, is still largely Corbynsceptic, though they hope that this will change in the next round of local government selections. (Councillors must go through a reselection process at every election.)

But the biggest shift has very little to do with the Labour leadership. The big victories for the Labour left in internal battles under Ed Miliband were the result of Unite and the GMB working together. Now they are, for various reasons, at odds and the GMB has proven significantly better at working shortlists and campaigning for its members to become MPs.  That helps Corbynsceptics. “The reason why so many of the unions supported Jeremy the first time,” one senior Corbynite argues, “Is they wanted to move the Labour party a little bit to the left. They didn’t want a socialist transformation of the Labour party. And actually if you look at the people getting selected they are not Corbynites, but they are not Blairites either, and that’s what the unions wanted.”

Regardless of why, it means that, two years into Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour left finds itself smaller in parliament than it was at the beginning.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.