July 19 2011
A visit to the Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon with the Anglo-Thai Society (ATS) on 19th July introduced members to an oasis of calm and tranquillity in an increasingly frenetic world. First sight of the Temple is a delight, its distinctly Thai shape unmistakable at the top of a staircase adorned with white balustrades. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens, tended by volunteers, with a path that wanders around a small lake providing a more peaceful a walk than you will find anywhere in London.
Following a donation to the temple by the Anglo-Thai Society, members took part in a blessing ceremony led by Phra Rachabhavanavimol, the chief of the Dhammaduta monks and the abbot. A delicious picnic, cooked by the Temple`s permanent cook, was eaten in the peace of the grounds and in the warmth of the sun. Lunch, and an enthusiastic photo session, was followed by a talk about Buddhism and a tour of the Buddhapadipa Temple. Also known as Uposotha Hall, the Temple was designed by Praves Limparangsi during the time when he was the first architect of the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Education of Thailand. The inauguration ceremony, held on 30 October 1979 (B.E.2525), was performed by HRH Princess Kallayanivaddana, the elder sister of the King of Thailand. The Temple is a place of community, offering teaching of the ways of Buddha and meditation classes.
While the Anglo-Thai group listened attentively, Phramaha Sangthong Dhammacaro, Dhammaduta Monk, Meditation Master and Dhamma speaker in English, described Buddhism and its history, explaining that it is a way of life rather than a religion and relating its principal beliefs. Buddha – the Englightened one – was born Prince Siddattha in India, the only son of King Suddhodana. Well brought up and educated, with a deep sense of responsibility, the prince sought the meaning of life in long years walking around India and studying religions. Finding his beliefs within himself the prince attained Enlightenment when he was 35 years old after which he was known as Buddha – the Englightened one who teaches.
Images of Buddha, revered in the sense of giving respect to a teacher, are displayed in the Temple`s Shrine Room. The main statue is caste in black bronze and was presented to the Temple by the King of Thailand in 1966 (B.E.2509). Other images, one caste in gold and another made as a replica of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Keow in Bangkok, have also been presented. The candles and lights surrounding the images represent light that guides us and chases away evil with lotus flowers to represent the community.