The Isle of Man, a small, self-governing island in the Irish Sea, between Ireland and Britain, recently welcomed its first Buddhist temple, which opened to the public on 11 December.
The Isle of Man Today newspaper reported that the new temple, in the village of Baldrine, offered an opportunity for practicing Buddhists, and for those with an interest in meditation and Thai culture, to seek life advice, spiritual guidance, and a welcoming social environment.
“For the fairly large Thai community here, the temple is of great importance,” said the resident monk, Venerable Maha Gone, originally from Thailand, who presided over the opening ceremony for Wat Mahathat. “I, as a monk, am here as a teacher, a figurehead. And, even though I am ‘in charge’ of this temple and therefore involved in its development and decisions, the legalities are left to a group of trustees and lay supporters.” (Isle of Man Today)
The new temple offers meditation sessions, which can help people find happiness, calm, and insight. And for those who participate more actively, these sessions can offer the opportunity of a deeper understanding of the fundamental realities of existence.
“A Buddhist temple is a place to learn the brilliant, psychologically sound, profoundly liberating, applicable teachings of the man called [the] Buddha,” Ven. Maha Gone noted. “The result of this is contentment—a lasting happiness based internally and not dependent on anyone or anything external.” (Isle of Man Today)
According to Ven. Maha Gon, several long-term Thai residents of the Isle of Man had initially invited Buddhist monks to the island in order to establish a temple. The project received keen support from the local Thai community, whom Ven. Maha Gone characterized as very generous.
“I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity we have here,” Ven. Maha Gone added. “And, as my English improves, [I] hope to be able to involve myself and our temple in adding another dimension to this beautiful island, which has already made me feel so welcome.” (Isle of Man Today)
Buddhist temples have traditionally played a pivotal role in the social and spiritual lives of the Thai people, the majority of whom identify as Theravada Buddhists. Traditionally, monks have provided funeral services, spiritual counseling, emotional support and encouragement, meditation instruction, and sharing the Buddha’s teachings.
Ven. Maha Gone noted that in addition to these reasons, visitors to the temple could also enjoy Thai cuisine, experience interesting cultural rituals, and share the joy of Thai culture and community. He added that people who are interested in meditation, Buddhism, and Thailand would also benefit greatly from the temple.
Although now officially open to the public, the temple is still very much a work in progress and is entirely dependent on the financial contributions of supporters for its survival.
Island’s first Buddhist temple now open to the public (Isle of Man Today)
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