The London Buddhist Centre, the main temple in London for the Triratna Buddhist Community, has announced that it will hold an open day on 10 September, inviting the public to visit the temple’s historic location to learn about its history and about the community’s other buildings across England.
The event is being organized as part of the London Buddhist Centre’s participation in London’s annual Open House Festival, which is a two-week celebration of the city’s historic and unique homes, architecture, and neighborhoods, offering people the chance to explore the British capital’s history and learn about some of its hidden secrets.
“How did a derelict Victorian fire station, built in 1888, become a lively hub of Buddhism in London in 2023?,” the London Buddhist Centre pondered in an announcement share with BDG. “From the turrets at the top of the building where firefighters would look out for fires across the East End to the space where fire engines would be parked and now people meditate, there are many architectural secrets to discover.
“Whether you’ve yet to visit the London Buddhist Centre, or if you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve visited, do come along to our Open House on Sunday, 10 September and hear all about it.”
The London Buddhist Centre is a community landmark in the East London neighborhood of Bethnal Green. The center opened in 1978 in a renovated redbrick fire station, a listed building of historic interest that was built in 1888. The site remained in use by the fire service until 1969.
As a focal point for Buddhist practice and learning, the London Buddhist Centre offers meditation instruction and practice, as well as Buddhism-related courses, seminars, and classes. The center also runs courses and retreats centered on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, offering courses for depression based on the methodology of American scholar, author, and Zen Buddhist Jon Kabat-Zinn—a social initiative supported by the local authority, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Today, the London Buddhist Centre contains a library, a bookshop, a reception room with painted Buddhist murals, and two shrine rooms with Buddha images, as well as space for meditation and practice, which feature daily yoga classes, regular events for families, and classes and retreats for under-25s and people of color.
“Buddhist practices include meditation, retreats, study, ritual, community or Sangha, and myriad other ways in which our lives can be enriched with a sense of purpose and connection,” the London Buddhist Centre added. “We teach Buddhism and meditation in a way which is relevant to contemporary life. We host regular retreats at our rural retreat centre in Suffolk.” (London Buddhist Centre)
The Triranta Buddhist Community, formerly Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, was founded by a British spiritual teacher and writer Urgyen Sangharakshita (born Dennis Lingwood) in 1967. Sangharakshita was ordained as a Theravada monk after studying with teachers in India following the Second World War. He formally took refuge in May 1944 with the Burmese monk U Thittila. Sangharakshita worked to present an updated vision of Buddhism relevant to the modern world and incorporating teachings from different Buddhist traditions and utilizing the language and insights of Western traditions of philosophy and psychology.