London Buddhist Vihara: The Way of the Buddha

London Buddhist Vihara: The Way of the Buddha

The Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera

The London Buddhist Vihara was the first to be founded outside Asia

Tucked away unobtrusively at the Turnham Green end of The Avenue, it is easy to miss the London Buddhist Vihara (temple-cummonastery). The doors are usually closed, but don’t mistake that for a lack of openness. Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has attended courses there or come across the resident monks will know well.
‘Everyone is welcome. We are open daily to visitors (8.30-11am and 2-8pm) and one of us is usually present to talk,’ explains The Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, who has been the Head Monk since 2007. ‘Also, our study classes are always popular and we try to play an active role in the community.’ The monks take a stall at the Bedford Park Festival and this year, for the first time, the Vihara is hosting an event (Roger McGough on 14 September) at the Chiswick Book Festival.

Founded in 1926 by Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), a global missionary who preached the Dharma in Asia, Europe and North America, the Vihara was the first
to be established outside Asia. Originally located in Ealing, it then moved to Gloucester Road and Knightsbridge before, in 1964, coming to Heathfield Gardens in Chiswick. The monks subsequently took up residence in The Avenue in 1994.

The Vihara runs a regular programme of events. A Buddhist service is held every Sunday – this includes a short sermon, meditation and chanting – and there is a Sunday School for children. Twice a year the monks host a fundraising Sri Lankan Food Festival, they support the Acton Homeless Centre and the Head Monk acts as a chaplain at the West Middlesex Hospital and Heathrow airport.

Locally, the Vihara is probably best-known for the free evening courses taught by the monks: students can choose an Introduction to Buddhism (Monday), Buddhist doctrine classes (Tuesday), Meditation (Wednesday) and Theravada Buddhism (Thursday). ‘Meditation is always well-attended, it’s such an important practice,’ says the Head Monk. ‘With so much stress in daily life, having a peaceful mind is essential.’ In addition, on the last Saturday of every month (except August and December) there is a retreat which is open to beginners and experienced practitioners.

Founder’s Day, one of the key dates in the Vihara’s annual calendar, will be held on 15 September. As the Head Monk explains, it’s the ideal opportunity to discover more about the philosophy and history of Buddhism. ‘Our speaker will be Dr Peter Harvey, a former Professor of Buddhist Studies, and afterwards we have invited 25 monks to lead a chanting ceremony. We hope local people will come along and meet us.’

London Buddhist Vihara
17 The Avenue, W4 1UD
+442089959493
london.vihara@virgin.net
http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/
London-Buddist-Vihara

London-Buddist-Vihara

London-Buddist-Vihara

London Buddhist Vihara
17 The Avenue, W4 1UD
+442089959493
london.vihara@virgin.net
http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/

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