It was a quiet Sunday morning and an email notification pinned into the inbox telling me about Newcastle Buddhist Centre. A little research found me a few hours later in their new home on the Westgate Road.
I visited Newcastle Central Mosque back in February and thought it a good idea that I visit other religious centres around the northeast. Purely out of my own curiosity and interest in religion.
During my university years, I had studied Buddhist Philosophy and Psychology not that I remember too much about it now but I still retain a basic knowledge about the religion. My interest in learning about what other people believe or use as a mantra for their own lives will always fascinate me.
Newcastle Buddhist Centre belongs to a western version of Buddhism called the Triratna Buddhist community which incorporates various parts of the two strands of Buddhism from the Mahayana and Theravada traditions.
It was good to see that they had used a building that had been empty for a while. Breathing new life in to old. Making sure that they use the things that around. It was a beautiful building and still retained some of the old stone fireplaces that would have been used when the building was a house.
Walking in I met a lady called Sarah who immediately asked if I would like a cup of tea. You know you are going to like a place when someone offers you a beverage before you tell them the reason for your visit.
The house was lovely. I know from my own experience with renovation how much things cost to put right and there was no expense spared when it came to making the place a sanctuary for peace and calm. Entering into the main room on the first floor you felt you could spend time in meditation and calm. They provided mats, cushions, chairs and even blankets for those who spend time in mindfulness and tranquillity.
Another gentleman gave me a brief rundown of the history of the Triratna Buddhist Community. A small photo of the founding teacher had been placed at the foot of a large figure of the Buddha sitting aloft a foundation that represented the industrial industries of the northeast.
I explained the history I had experienced growing up and my own involvement with meditation. Something I don’t practice at the moment but knowing the benefits of with someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety it’s certainly something I am keen to explore once again.
They had their official opening the day before I visited and the month of June there are a lot of events catered for people who are thinking about exploring meditation and mindfulness.
Asking about their membership I was told they do have a number of people who are regulars but also there are people who will attend every few months and to me, that is what I found appealing that you are not obliged to attend and not frowned upon if you miss a few meetings.
Their connections and events were just not limited to the northeast. I noticed a number of activities planned all over the UK. A time when we are immersed in social media and 24-hour rolling news its difficult to maintain a balance between connecting people online and communicating with others in the real world. People are paying hundreds of pounds for weekends of digital detox. I think its time we all looked at how much time we are spending each day.