Members of the Triratna Buddhist Community in the north London borough of Islington have launched an appeal for help to purchase their property. Leaders of the community hope that paying off the remainder of their mortgage on the building will allow low-cost and free programs at the center to continue.
The three-story building has been home to not only the local Buddhist community, but also to therapists, yoga teachers, and others. However, the COVID-19 lockdowns and ongoing pandemic concerns have led to a persisting decline in building use.
The community’s aim is to raise £75,000 (US$90,000), which will mean that they no longer need to make mortgage payments of £5,000 (US$6,000) monthly. As the charity plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer, members of the community hope to be free of the burden of monthly payments.
Ratnaprabha, 68, an ordained Buddhist and the chair of trustees for the center, said: “We’ve been under the burden of a mortgage for the whole time we’ve been open—that’s £5,000 a month going out on that mortgage, and the pandemic had a big effect on our income, as you can imagine.” (Islington Tribune)
Before COVID-19, the center relied heavily on renting out space for therapy sessions, yoga classes, meditation groups, and tai-chi, and qigong classes.
“All those streams of income were really quite reduced as a result of the pandemic,” Ratnaprabha said. “If we can stop having the outgoing of the mortgage it would make a huge difference to how free we are just to offer everything to people without worrying about money and trying to charge lots, because we want to keep it at a really low price, or for free.” (Islington Tribune)
He added: “We’re hoping it may well get to the pre-pandemic levels, but a lot of people do yoga online, and they get some famous American teacher taking them through it. And they think, ‘Oh, if I go to the local yoga center, I’ll have to go to the trouble of getting changed,’ and all that kind of thing.” (Islington Tribune)
Members of the community also hope that more people will learn about the center and consider becoming involved in some of its activities.
“We had 46 people in the meditation on Saturday morning, so we do get a lot of people coming, but we’ve got space for more.” said Ratnaprabha. “We’ve got three meditation rooms as well as the yoga studio. Why not make full use of them?” (Islington Tribune)
Ratnaprabha noted that most people who utilized the center for its many activities were not themselves Buddhist, but came from a variety of faiths and backgrounds. The center is home to a large bookshop, three shrine rooms, two treatment rooms, a bodywork studio, and several meeting rooms.
Speaking of his own path, which eventually led to ordination in the Triratna Buddhist Community, Ratnaprabha recounted that he first learned to meditate while facing the stress of exams at Sussex University in the late 1970s.
“I don’t know how to describe it really, but by doing regular meditation and having a bit of perspective on what the human mind is like, you can use it to push back a little bit and you don’t get so carried away and caught up in things like grief, or annoyance, or anger,” he said. (Islington Tribune)
The North London Buddhist Centre is a part of the Triratna Buddhist Community (TBC), formerly Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO). The TBC was founded by Urgyen Sangharakshita (an Englishman, born Dennis Lingwood, 1925–2018). Sangharakshita studied with teachers in India after the Second World War and later ordained as a Theravada monk. His vision, carried on by the TBC, was to learn from all schools of Buddhism and to present the teachings in a unique way for the modern world.
Covid-hit Buddhists launch bid to secure their home (Islington Tribune)
North London Buddhist Centre
Buy the building (Gofundme)
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