Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds new building concept drawing, August 2017. Image by Martijn Prins.

Over twenty years, Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds (JBCL) in the United Kingdom has grown to become a significant focal point for practitioners, hosting an increasing number of classes and retreats, including those with Geshe Tashi Tsering from Jamyang Buddhist Centre London. Center director Kerry Prest recently shared an update of an encouraging building project at the center and news of an offering that carries the center closer to a new home:

Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds celebrated its twentieth birthday last year and marked the occasion by launching in September 2016 a fundraising campaign to find their new home in Leeds. Within the first five months, it had raised £20,000 towards its target.

The center has just received a matched funding donation of £50,000 from an anonymous donor and is re-launching their campaign in a renewed bid to find a permanent larger home within the city, having reached physical capacity in their current site.

JBCL has a long history in Leeds, having been established in 1996 under the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT UK coordinator Jay Simpson praises the center’s continuous efforts to develop:

“JBCL continues to offer a wonderfully varied program of Buddhist and secular teachings and outreach work to the local community, schools, and hospitals, in accordance with the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

“It is fantastic news that Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds is looking to create a permanent home after twenty years of development. The Building a Community campaign is an amazing way to help preserve and spread the Dharma in the north of England, helping establish the heart of Buddhist practice in the heart of the United Kingdom. The team at JBCL have great plans for the future, and I would encourage everyone to get involved to help create a more caring and compassionate society.”

Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds altar, August 2017. Photo by Tsanka Petkova.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds altar, August 2017. Photo by Tsanka Petkova.

Last year saw a record number of visitors using the center, with over 2,000 individual visits recorded. This year looks set to increase those numbers still further, with the number of visits made to the center so far already standing at 1,500, a higher figure than that recorded over the same period in the previous year. The number of unique visitors to the center looks set to increase by over 20 percent in 2017 than was recorded in 2016, meaning that by December, there will have been a substantial increase in the use of the center by the local community for another consecutive year.

In keeping with their being the home of Tibetan Buddhism in Leeds, the center regularly hosts highly respected Buddhist teachers, both laypeople and ordained monks and nuns. Ven. Robina Courtin, Geshe Tashi Tsering, Tenzin Josh, Paula Chichester, and Ven. Amy Miller have all given teachings in 2017, on topics as diverse as ego-grasping, emptiness, kindness, and meditation.

Fiona Oliver is spiritual program coordinator at JBCL and believes the varied programming to be one of the key contributing factors of the center’s continued success and growth:

“JBCL plays a large part in many people’s lives here in Leeds and across the north of England. Our community of practitioners really value the Dharma, and appreciate the wonderful opportunities we offer to meet and receive teachings from eminent lamas such as Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Dagri Rinpoche.

“As a center, we work hard to offer a program that reflects the spiritual aspirations of all the people who visit us, and that inspires even more people to benefit from the Dharma and the wonderful visiting teachers. We hope to continue to do so for many years to come.”

With hundreds of people regularly attending their events, the team at Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds look to expand into new areas, such as hosting courses on mindfulness for businesses, providing neutral spaces that can be rented out to third parties, enlarging their bookshop area, having a café area that is open to the public daily, and providing accommodation that can be used for visiting teachers or rented out to raise further income.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds, new Tara statues. August 2017. Photo by Fiona Oliver Photography.

Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds, new Tara statues. August 2017. Photo by Fiona Oliver Photography.

“Our target of £750,000 (just under $1 million US dollars) could be considered a tall order,” said center director Kerry Prest, “but we firmly believe that the commitment that has got the center so far already will continue to grow and enable this to happen. In the first two months after launching the Building a Community appeal, we had raised £4,500 to purchase 21 Buddha Tara statues on the advice of Dagri Rinpoche during his visit to the center.

“We have been astounded by the generosity being shown to us by the community, and in return we give back as much as we can. We are currently a guiding center for three FPMT groups in the north of England, plus mentoring three other groups not yet part of FPMT.”

JBCL has a number of events coming up over the next few months to raise awareness of the Building a Community campaign, including holding a sponsored 24-hour Sutra of Golden Light recitation from September 20-21, 2017, which will be live-streamed worldwide.

More details about the Jamyang Buddhist Center Leeds, and all developments in the building project can be found at www.jamyangleeds.co.uk/building-a-community or contact smile@jamyangleeds.co.uk.

Learn more about how to participate in JBCL’s worldwide Sutra of Golden Light recitation on September 20-21: http://jamyangleeds.co.uk/goldenlight/.

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