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Words of wisdom from our loving Choje Lama Yeshe Rinpoche blessed the Grand Opening Day of the new Tibetan Centre for Kagyu Samye Dzong Cardiff, on 24 September 2017
It was a warm, bright afternoon as Laura Bradshaw’s Cardiff Canton Singers stood in front of the Samye Foundation singing a variety of lively traditional songs from around the world.
As supporters of the centre drifted in, along with friends and family, the forecourt was soon full of an appreciative crowd of listeners.
Volunteers who had been working around the clock for months to get the centre ready for the big day, finally found a minute or two to enjoy a moment of rest.
The new centre, under the auspices of the Rokpa Trust, houses a tea room, a reading room, and a shop. An extension to the Kagyu Samye Dzong's shrine room, on the top floor of the Samye Foundation building, it offers a cosy space for social gatherings and discussions, Buddhist or Mindful.
Just before two O’clock, there was a last minute scramble to find the red silk ribbon, which was carefully attached to the newly painted front door of the Tibetan tea room and centre.
A crowd that had gathered around the doorway for the big moment, fell quiet, and through them stepped Choje Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the chairman of Rokpa Trust, who also stands at the helm of the secular Samye Foundation, and is the Abbot of Kagyu Samye Ling monastery
After cutting the red silk ribbon, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche said: 'There are three doors here, this is very auspicious'
Dressed in the golden robes of his Tibetan Buddhist lineage, and smiling humorously, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche humbly stepped forwards and took the scissors in his hands.
As he cut the ribbon, he recited the ‘Three Jewels’ under which all Buddhists take refuge: ‘For the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.’
Thinking the opening was over, the silence faded as people started to talk and clap. But Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, his eyes sparkling and his face bright with inspiration, had more to say.
Working hard to be heard over the hubbub, quiet eventually fell again. Pointing to the centre as a whole, he said: ‘The Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and there are three doors here. This is very auspicious.’
And indeed, above each of the three buildings, of which the Tibetan Centre is the third, flies a different Buddhist flag, which were given to the centre by Choje Lama Yeshe Rinpoche.
Above the new Tibetan Centre (to the far right, as the building is viewed from the road) flies the Garuda flag of all Kagyu Samye Dzongs:
Above the Samye Foundation secular wellbeing and mindfulness centre (central building) flies the flag of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, designed after he had seen the flag in a dream:
Above the building on the far left, which is rented to ethical businesses and artists, flies the universal Buddhist flag:
Not long afterwards, a frisson of excitement shivered through the crowd as it was announced that everyone should take their seats for Lama Yeshe Rinpoche's opening day speech.
A seemingly never-ending stream of people quietly flowed into the large room that we call the Great Hall, and eventually spilled out into the garden. Seats were laid out in semi-circles around the door, but some chose instead to stand by the open windows to be sure to hear the talk.
Noting the extraordinary achievement of the Tibetan Centre’s creation, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche thanked the centre's leaders and volunteers, saying: ‘I want to thank all Lorraine’s team. They are Super Super-dupers! You have worked very very hard, very hard. Yes.’
Dedicating the Centre to ‘the people of Cardiff’, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche noted the widely felt need in society for a place ‘where there is joy, happiness, [and] where others are willing to share, willing to help’.
He promised that the centre would provide a place of 'safety' for all who visited it.
Delighted by all the young people present, he mooted the possibility of a dedicated 'children’s week' once a month, wherein young people (‘the future of this world’) would be helped to become ‘more open-minded, more positive’ towards other human beings, no matter what their colour, race, or gender, in order to collaborate.
'[People] need a place where there is joy, happiness, [and] where others are willing to share, willing to help’
‘The world is getting very small and we will meet all types of colour, race, gender, so why find reasons to hurt ourselves by and in the name of belief, in the name of gender, or race? These things make no sense,’ he told the gathering, calling it 'self-destruction'.
He also moved the gathering to understand the true meaning of compassion as ‘unconditional’ compassion.
‘If your compassion is only based on Me, Me, this is still selfishness.’
"Whoever you see is suffering, whoever has managed to get into a difficult situation, we should show unconditional compassion to them, [and be] willing and eager and happy to show them [the way], saying: “No, no, you can be free,” ’ he said.
Promoting an integral approach to the practice of Mindfulness, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche emphasised the need for a mindset dominated by universal ethical principles, such as ‘gratitude, appreciation, love, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness’, in order to get the full beneficial effects of mindfulness practice.
The world is getting very small, why find reasons to hurt ourselves in the name of belief, in the name of gender, or race?