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As part of the new specification GCSE RE course, students are required to gain a deep knowledge and understanding of what it means to ‘live the Buddhist life’. We decided that the best way to embed the knowledge that students had learnt in school was to visit a traditional Buddhist Vihara. This led us to planning our trip to the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara. The ‘pagoda’ (temple) is built in a traditional oriental style to mirror the style of pagoda’s found in the East. From our visit, we were able to learn more about the historical context of the Vihara.

“The pagoda is an oriental style of sacred tower. In Buddhism, it is also called a stupa or caitya. The building of pagodas dates from the time of the Buddha’s passing into Nibbana, around the sixth century BCE. At that time, the Buddha’s body was cremated and only fragments of the bones remained. These sacred relics were divided among the rulers who were his devout followers. They placed them in golden chambers in their respective countries and built pagodas over them so that people could venerate and pay homage”

The students were able to listen to the inspiration and knowledgeable Yann Lovelock who has practiced the monastic lifestyle at three separate times in his life. He was able to give us a very good insight into what ‘living the Buddhist life’ is like and how the Dhamma is an integral part of life for all involved with the Vihara, including the key teachings of Siddhartha Gotama (The Buddha). Our students were also able to take part in some elements of ‘walking meditation’ and traditional Buddhist ‘mindfulness’ in order to develop a good understanding of why this is a key element of ‘living the Buddhist life’

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