Sammye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre ~ and the Lockerbie Memorial
During my recent break, my husband and I covered a lot of miles and a lot of smiles, visiting family and friends in the north of England and into Scotland. My husband’s sister lives just outside Dumfries with her husband but the last time we’d seen them was for their wedding in April 2009. It’s about an eight hour drive to get there from here on the east coast, and for Brits, that’s one hell of a long drive. So we did it in stages, driving from here first to North Yorkshire and staying with friends there, then going a bit further into County Durham and visiting his mother, and then we made the last stage over the Pennines and over the border and into Scotland. It was great to get there and catch up.
Gus and Zoe wanted to show us some of their favourite places to go, so despite the rather dismal wet weather, we set off on the Saturday for the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre. I didn’t realise I’d heard of where we were going because the name wasn’t mentioned, and it was only when we came from the car-park I knew where I was.
Heavy rain fell steadily and we headed first for the café. I couldn’t resist having an Himalayan Hot Chocolate but was mildly disappointed it wasn’t made with Yak butter. However, Yaks do not live well at lower altitudes so the possibility was remote….
Walking around the grounds I was struck by the serenity of everyone around; peacefulness seemed to just seep into you as you breathed in the air. Some of my worries, my pain, stopped screaming at me for a while. I made a special prayer for peace, by tying a rag to the prayer tree and that helped too.
I attended afternoon prayers, after we’d had some rather superb soup for lunch, and I was struck by the joyfulness of the attending Tibetan monks. The service was in Sanskrit so I just had to content myself with enjoying the chanting and the drums. The whole premise is that they are praying for peace for every being on earth. To my disappointment, the massive, bath-sized Singing Bowl was not played. Later, in the gift shop I bought myself a large singing bowl. These amazing bowls make a sound when the wooden stick is run around the rim; you are drawn into the sound and it leads you into meditative states.
When we headed back, Gus took us into the town of Lockerbie, scene of one of the most awful terrorist attacks in the world. He was there the night the plane came down, brought down by a bomb. I will not go into the details of it, because it is distressing. He asked if we’d like to go to the Memorial. We said yes.
I have no photos of the memorial for this seemed the height of disrespect to those innocent lives. I stood in the now gentler rain and I shivered. I cannot put into words what I felt, because words are inadequate. Gus told us about the people on the memorial, families he knew, their stories. What they were doing that night, who had been going about their lives with no expectation that atrocity would be falling from the sky and murdering them. We stood in silence and listened and shivered.
The contrast between the peace-seeking ethos of Samye Ling, that sought to change the world by praying that all beings would have peace, and the ethos of the minds that made Lockerbie a fireball could not have been more dramatic.
I know which I choose.