Although not directly involved in the event, the FWBO’s Nottingham Buddhist Centre has been playing a part, offering accommodation and food to around 30 of the participants. The centre was opened to all wishing to use it, with sleeping spaces for women on the ground floor, men in the shrine room, and three Tibetan ladies on the top floors with the community. Interestingly, only one of those present knew members of the community in advance – it was a real ‘instant community’ open to all who needed it.
Jinaraja, the centre’s chairman, said “as well as different nationalities we also had different types of Buddhist all living in harmony. Much intermingling and friendship, trust generosity and kindness abounding - and someone left us a beautiful brocade on the shrine room as a gift. So much dana given as well, though we asked for no money – we’re planning to use some of what we were given to purchase a set of DVDs of the Dalai Lama’s talks.
“It was a little stressful for the community, being responsible for security among other things, but our guests became very sensitive and considerate of us, we all ate breakfast in our kitchen together and all used the bathrooms and showers. Nothing broken! And a mild smell of socks the only unpleasant after-effect! Actually, it was like being on retreat together – we were only five minutes from the Nottingham Arena where the teachings were talking place, so people were able to come and go as they needed to.
“Several of us were able to meet the Dalai Lama personally, some at an inter-faith event and others at a reception with civic dignitaries. I was pleased to be able to remind him of the Western Buddhist Order and the work we are doing in the West – of course he has seen a lot more of us in India at some of our TBMSG centres”.
Nottingham is having a bumper year for visiting Buddhists this year, with Thich Nhat Hanh due to visit in August.