Standing majestically on a 70-acre plot of land in Ulverston, Cumbria in North West England, Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre (MKMC) serves not only as a contemporary temple and an internationally renowned centre for meditation but also as the headquarters of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The main building is Conishead Priory, an English heritage landmark with Gothic-style architecture.
Founded by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the NKT is the largest Tibetan Buddhist-based organisation in the world today. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was one of the pioneering Tibetan Buddhist lamas who were instrumental in introducing and spreading the pure tradition of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa to the West.
Similar to its architecture which is a blend of tradition and modernity, the centre adopts a contemporary outlook whilst retaining the essence of Tibetan Buddhist tradition and culture. A prominent example is the Kadampa Temple for World Peace, conceptualised by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, which successfully blends ancient Tibetan iconography with modern architecture. Its key features include:
- The square base on the lowest level of the temple with a door on each side, symbolising the four ways of entering the path of liberation. It is also a reminder that living a spiritual life is the only avenue to true and permanent freedom from suffering.
- A Dharma wheel with a male and female deer on each side placed above each doorway. This represents the final stages of the spiritual path to Enlightenment.
- The next level of the temple features an octagonal structure with a lantern tower topped by a golden five-pronged vajra. It represents the five wisdoms of an enlightened being.
- Other vajras placed on the corners of the building reflect the indestructible qualities of an enlightened mind.
- Precious materials adorn the temple structure, such as the gold-leafed roof of the lantern tower and the gold-impregnated glass windows which showcase the preciousness of the Buddha’s teachings, especially when put into practice.
- The application of many auspicious symbols on the temple walls mimic the Pure Lands of the enlightened beings. These invoke blessings and bring peace of mind.
Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre is home to the largest bronze Buddha Shakyamuni statue in the West, which presides over the main altar of the temple. To either side are statues of Buddha Maitreya, embodying the enlightened mind and Buddha Manjushri, embodying enlightened wisdom. Magnificent statues of Lama Tsongkhapa and his two heart disciples are featured on the far left. A grand Protector altar on the far right features the five different emanations of Dharmapala Dorje Shugden.
The centre is well equipped with all the necessary facilities including extensive accommodation for residents and guests, a dining area, World Peace cafe, communal spaces, and even a gift shop, where Buddhist art, statues and practice supplies can be purchased.
Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre offers a wide range of activities which are open to the public. These include:
- A variety of Dharma programs that cater for Buddhists of all levels, which includes day or weekend courses and even empowerments for the serious practitioner
- Short and extensive meditation and retreat courses
- Art-related activities particularly the creation of Buddha statues and Buddhist art conducted by the in-house art department, known as The Kadampa Art Studio.
- A Teacher Training Programme which aims to train aspiring individuals to become Dharma teachers to help Dharma flourish internationally. This in-depth programme of study and practice also includes practical teaching experience in the centre, its branches or affiliated Kadampa temples.
- A structured volunteer program which offers a choice of other activities including cleaning, cooking, gardening, and more.
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