This week my Jury Service has resumed and I've been back in Southwark; there's still a lot of sitting around but that means I'm even more determined to get out and about over lunch. Usually we have an hour and a half for lunch (I know!) so yesterday I headed off towards the Imperial War Museum. My original intention was to find some green space to sit and eat my lunch and if there was time to pop into the museum.
It didn't work out that way though because soon after I entered the grounds I stumbled upon this Tibetan Peace Garden. And what a beauty it is.
Standing in the centre of the garden, by the black Kilkenny limestone and the bronze cast of the Kalachakra Mandala I had a great view looking towards the Language Pillar. It's design is based on the Sho Pillar in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa and is made from Portland stone. More on this later though.
The bronze cast above is considered by the Dalai Lama to be a vehicle for world peace and it's believed it has the power to grant its blessings on all who see it. I'll let you know if it works!
In the paving around the mandala are the classic Buddhist images of the "Eight Auspicious Symbols"
Around the edge of the gardens are four contemporary sculptures carved in Portland stone showing the elements Air, Fire, Earth and Water - the fifth element of Space is represented by the open arena.
The plants in the garden originate from Tibet and the Himalayan regions.
The inscription on the Language Pillar - shown in four languages - reads
"WE HUMAN BEINGS ARE PASSING THROUGH A CRUCIAL PERIOD IN OUR DEVELOPMENT.
CONFLICT & MISTRUST HAVE PLAGUED THE PAST CENTURY WHICH HAS BROUGHT IMMEASURABLE HUMAN SUFFERING & ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.
IT IS IN THE INTERESTS OF ALL OF US ON THIS PLANET THAT WE MAKE A JOINT EFFORT TO TURN THE NEXT CENTURY INTO AN ERA OF PEACE & HARMONY.
MAY THIS PEACE GARDEN BECOME A MONUMENT TO THE COURAGE OF THE TIBETAN PEOPLE & THIER COMMITMENT TO PEACE.
MAY IT REMAIN AS A SYMBOL TO REMIND US THAT HUMAN SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON LIVING IN HARMONY & ON ALWAYS CHOOSING THE PATH OF NON-VIOLENCE IN RESOLVING OUR DIFFERENCES."
- THE XIV DALAI LAMA OF TIBET, 13 MAY 1999
Walking into the garden from the language pillar you see a circular bronze image set in Kilkenny stone. The two Tibetan syllables in the centre mean Virtue and Foundation and it is the logo of the Tibet Foundation, who commissioned the garden.
Around the outer perimeter of the garden there's a low Kilkenny stone wall, which doubled up as a bench and a lunch spot for me and many workers from the local area.
Around the mandala are eight low York stone contemplation seats, which represent the Noble Eightfold Path of right view, thought, speech, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration.
It was a great spot for lunch and it really did have a quiet and peaceful aura to it, which given that my visit took place over lunch during school holidays where there were plenty of children enjoying clambering over the large naval guns outside the museum's entrance, was no mean feat!