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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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.