00:00 Saturday 18 September 2010  Written by Jackie Keogh

Irelands first Buddhist temple for Beara

THE ground for Ireland's first Buddhist temple has been blessed by a Tibetan lama and Cork County Council.

Earlier this summer, the local authority granted planning permission for the proposed three-storey temple, which is expected to cost €1.5 million to complete.

Meanwhile, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, a uniquely qualified Tibetan master, recently travelled to Dzogchen Beara, the Tibetan retreat centre near Allihies, to consecrate the site.

Rinpoche conducted a pacifying "Jinsek", or fire ceremony, which Dzogchen Beara's director, Matt Padwick described as being 'traditional at this stage of the project in order to eliminate any negative or harmful influences.'

A few hundred people gathered for the ceremony around a 'peace pole', a timber pole that was erected at the central point of the site and bears the legend 'May peace prevail on earth' in English, Irish and Tibetan.

Matt Padwick told The Southern Star that Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, together with Sogyal Rinpoche the spiritual director of Dzogchen Beara, has closely guided every aspect the building location, orientation, design and detail, in order to integrate the most authentic Tibetan traditions with the best, and most appropriate, modern building techniques.

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche has been advising on the project from the outset, using the ancient art of geomancy and following the advice laid down in traditional texts.

Geomancy, described as a divination that employs the scattering of pebbles, grains of sand, or seeds, on the earth and then the interpretation of their shape and position, was central to the plans that were submitted to Cork County Council.

Meanwhile, architect Giles Oliver, who alongside his colleague Bob Whiteside also had a key role to play in drawing the plans for the new temple, said he was pleased that the local authority had approved the plans for 'this small wildly attractive thing at the end of a long path.'

Inspired by the consecration ceremony, Giles Oliver said: 'This is how all temples should begin, out of doors, in a clearing in the trees.'

Ireland's first Tibetan temple will be distinctive in many ways, including its copper roof. To have a copper roof is traditional in Tibet, but it is likely to have special resonance locally, considering that Allihies was once a major centre for copper mining.

The temple will be cut into the hillside and be protected from the harsh Atlantic winds by a mature shelter bed of trees to the north and west, which were planted more than thirty years ago by Peter and the late Harriet Cornish, who founded the centre in 1974.

The 14.5 metre high temple and ancillary buildings, which will overlook the meditation garden, will cost an estimated €1.5 million to build, but the centre's fundraising committee is already actively working on the project and to date it has raised €112,00.

Matt Padwick said: 'We are confident that we will be in a position to start construction next year and, hopefully, we will be able to officially open the temple eighteen months later.'

Many Tibetan masters have commented on the qualities of Dzogchen Beara, with its beautiful natural environment and atmosphere of profound peace, which comes from deep spiritual practice.

No doubt, most people are aware of the tragedy that overtook Tibet in 1959 when more than 100,000 people were forced into exile.

Among the exiles were a number of Buddhist masters, the last holders of that wisdom, coming from a lineage which stretches back over two and a half millennia to the Buddha himself.

According to Matt, 'We are fortunate to have authentic holders of that lineage guiding us as this tradition takes root in the western world.'

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