Buddhists' centre opens in Gisborne

By Christine McCafferty, Gisborne Herald, August 1, 2008

Gisborne, New Zealand -- Eight years of fundraising by the Gisborne Buddhist community has brought to fruition their goal to open a dedicated space for practitioners of the ancient teachings.

Swaths of vibrant Tibetan holy prayer flags line the rooftop and traditional artefacts adorn the walls of the James Street house, which has undergone a major transformation as Buddhists prepare to open the institute to the community.

Resident lama, the Venerable Lama Lobsang and abbot, the Venerable Choje Lama Shedrup, have been in Gisborne in the lead-up to a gathering at the institute this Sunday.

Lama Shedrup praised the local sangha (practitioners) who had put in many years of hard work to open the institute.

"We are very fortunate our group has worked very hard and sincerely to make this available for the whole community," he said.

"Now we finally have this important place. I'm extremely happy to come here and bless this place."

The teachings of the Palpung branch of Tibetan Buddhism, under the blessing of Thai Situpa, stem from thousands of years of unbroken lineage.

Its basic principles of non-judgement and treating all life forms with equal respect still rang true in today's society, Lama Shedrup said.

He described Gisborne as a very "significant city" with powerful spiritual energy.

"This is the first place to see the sun and there is much power from this beautiful illuminating energy. People are very loving and respectful here. They have so much sincere sympathy for Tibetan people - we are all very grateful and fortunate for that."

Centre spokesperson Meikle McNab echoed his appreciation, saying the community and neighbourhood had been supportive towards their fundraising efforts.

"We have a small core group but many friends in Gisborne. As soon as we get the house finished, we will really be able to grow as a centre and be available for the community," she said.

This Sunday there will be a puja (ceremony) at the institute.

If you are interested in finding out more, contact Palpung Kagyu Samten Choeling Tibetan Buddhist Institute on 868 3836.