Cathkin High pupils visit Buddhist monastery

by Will Henshaw, Rutherglen Reformer, Jun 9 2010

Eskdalemuir, Scotland (UK) -- CATHKIN High pupils received some good Karma recently as they visited a Buddhist monastery.

As part of their current topic about Buddhism, a third-year class took a trip to the Samye Ling Buddhist Monastery in Eskdalemuir near Dumfries.

They were greeted by a ‘Weegie’ monk, a Glaswegian man who had left his family and given up his job to become a Buddhist monk. Under his guidance, the pupils were shown round the temple which was preparing for the 70th birthday of Akong Rinpoche, the founder of the monastery.

A whirlwind of sounds, chanting and cheering was held in the temple itself as the monks, both male and female, practised their celebrations.

After that, the guide led the class to the Shupa, the burial place for Buddhists. The guide was witty and kept pupils on their toes by asking questions and challenging them.

He then showed the students the prayer wheels which contained millions of mantras (short prayers) which are for compassion and peace.

Kieran Gilhooly, a pupil at Cathkin High, said: “It was amazing. They showed us around the temple and it looked all shiny.”

Stephanie Nicoll enjoyed her day at the monastery saying: “It was really interesting and the Buddhist monk was very detailed in his stories – a great experience!”

Kieran McMillan agreed with Stephanie and added: “It was really interesting learning about something that you don’t normally see everyday.”

RE teacher Orla Prendergast accompanied the pupils on their trip and was full of praise for the monastery, which is the only one in the UK to enjoy a visit from the Dalai Lama.

She said: “It’s stunning. They’re actually doing a £5million extension on it at the moment.

“It is invaluable for the pupils to have first-hand experience of the religion. I could talk for two years on Buddhism but actually seeing it first hand is brilliant.

“The monk told them a story that he hadn’t gone to his son’s wedding because he was in retreat at the time. They couldn’t believe that he had given up so much for his faith.”