The Beara peninsula, in south-west Cork, is described as "barren and remote and seems to have an energy all of its own" by the old Rough Guide, Ireland and is "bounding in great ribs of rock thirty miles out into the ocean." The Beara peninsula has been chosen by The Irish Times as one of the five finalists in the Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland contest of 2014. It is here that the Dzogchen Beara Retreat Centre is located, where people frequently visit to take a break from their hectic lives. Visitors to the centre are invited to join free meditation classes that take place every morning and afternoon. These meditation classes are up to an hour long and are guided classes that explore the idea of being present in your own thoughts and becoming more aware of these thoughts in your daily life.
Dzogchen (which according to Tibetian buddhism means a natural premordial state) Beara Retreat Centre is situated on the Beara Peninsula, on the most south-westerly point of County Cork. The retreat centre was opened in the 70s and it was the founders wish "to create a place that would offer a spiritual home to people of all traditions." In 1992 the founders made a gift of the land and buildings to a charitable trust under the spiritual guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche (a teacher of Tibetian buddhism). Rinpoche named the centre Dzogchen Beara, "Holder of Dzogchen." Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection," is the most ancient and direct stream of wisdom within the Buddhist tradition of Tibet.
In 2008, Sogyal Rinpoche submitted plans for Ireland's first Tibetan Buddhist temple at Dzogchen Beara Retreat Centre and in 2010 the plans were approved. A temple built as a result of these plans is hoped to promote inner peace and well-being and hold an inspiring natural environment in trust, for present and future generations. It will be open to individuals, families, and communities of all backgrounds and faiths.
Sharon Downey, a volunteer at the centre says that "it's thanks to it's founder Peter Cornish, who planted the trees that are in the area some forty years ago, that it's got the planning permission for such a development because if the temple could be seen, it wouldn't have got the go-ahead. "
There are some very strict measures in places in Ireland that require that a building blend well with it's environment and each application must adhere to an environmental assessment.
Downey goes on to say that "it's not the only Buddhist center in Ireland, there is one more in Cavan that actually has a lama living there. That's not the Dali Lama of course."
I first encountered Buddhism in South Korea. Of the South Korean population in 2005, 46.5% were classified as Irreligious, 22.8% were Buddhist, 29.2% were Christians (18.3% were Protestant and 10.9% were Catholic), and the rest adhered to various minority religions. Buddhism was allowed to blend in with Shamanism, the indigenous religion of Korea and the Korean people. Buddhism has a rich history in the country, with huge statues of different Buddhas adorning the mountains and pagodas as places of worships for Buddhists. Every year, the Koreans celebrates Buddha's birthday with a lantern festival in the fall, at which time all temples are lit with lanterns and candles.
Are there any Buddhist temples where you live? What role do they play in the environment and community?
Credit: Images by Sharon Downey. Data linked to sources.