I was in the Scottish borders last week and popped into the Samye Ling monastery, which is located near the village of Eskdalemuir. I had an absolutely wonderful visit, so I thought it would be good to share my experience with you.
Samye Ling is more than a monastery, it is an international centre for Buddhist training, known for its teachings and traditions of Buddhist philosophy. Founded in 1967 by two spiritual masters, Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist centre in the west. The name ‘Samye’ came from the very first monastery in Tibet.
The centre in Scotland, which is home to a community of more than 50 monks, nuns and volunteers, uphold the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, living their lives in accordance with their basic principles: doing no harm, performing wholesome actions, and training the mind through meditation.
The temple is stunning
I talked with Ani Lhamo, a fully ordained Buddhist nun, about life at the centre and about meditation. Ani explained about the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, which were formed over 2,500 years ago. Although there are many different versions of Buddhism, they are all based on Prince Siddhartha and his teachings. Through concentrated meditation, he experienced a deep realisation of true nature and what causes unhappiness.
Buddhist methods of meditation are aimed at calming the mind and achieving insight into how the mind works. Ani explained, through regular meditative practice, the mind gradually settles into a peaceful state. It is when we enter into a blissful state that we experience insight into our being.
“Meditation can help bring about a natural sense of peace and well-being that can extend to every aspect of our lives,” Ani said. “People who meditate regularly tend to sleep better, have better digestion of food and can handle the ups and downs of life with more clarity and ease, and they relate to others with more compassion and warmth.
“Meditation is the patient process of settling our mind in the present moment so that we are fully engaged with whatever we are doing at that time.
“In modern life, we are often left feeling like there is never enough time. Busy and over-worked, as soon as we get around to doing one thing, our mind is already thinking about something else. We collapse in front of the television to chill out. But, this is not real peace.
“When the mind is constantly agitated, it is almost impossible to be happy. However, as we become practiced at meditation, our minds become more peaceful. This is ‘natural’ happiness rather than perceived happiness.
“As our practice deepens, we become increasingly in the present. This equilibrium brings stability to our minds and it brings insight into how our minds function. This is true peace and unconditional happiness.”
Samye Ling centre
Samye Ling is open all year round to visitors. It is a beautiful place to visit; the gardens and temple are stunning. They have a shop and cafe too.
The monks and nuns at Samye Ling offer short courses on meditation and mindfulness, and they offer longer retreats for people who want to explore the benefits of living a traditional way of life.
I would like to thank Ani and her colleagues for their wonderful welcome and for talking with me about the Tibetan Buddhist centre. They made my visit enjoyable and memorable.
You can hear Ani talking on my podcast.
Visit the Samye Ling website for more information.