Tuesday 9 July 2013

for a free dinner!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to this 'place' with her where we would have a tour and free dinner...now it may have just been the free dinner that sucked me in and I probably should have gotten more information before agreeing but I didn't! I had a vague idea, surely that was enough.. lol....

So on Saturday she picked me up and along we went to the Pure Land Learning Centre here in Toowoomba. It was established here in 2001 and on their webpage they say their goal is "to provide a good learning environment for students who aspire to learn and practise Pure Land Buddhism and the teachings of the sages, and to train and nurture successors to continue the propagation of Buddhism." But I quickly learnt it was much more than that....

Now people who know me will be surprised to read this about me, people who don't know me should know that religion and religious faith is something that escapes me.... I never set foot in a church until I went to boarding school and the only time I have been in one since has been for a wedding :) or a funeral :(

I wouldn't say that I am an atheist, probably more agnostic (and yes I had to look them up and I could possibly still be confused...perhaps I'm both!)... I would like to believe that there is something good in stall for us after we pass but I'm not convinced of the whole pearly gates and God thing.... I also believe that these are my beliefs and my opinions and while I won't push them on you I also don't like when people try and push their beliefs on me...everyone has the right to believe what they like. 

A few years ago a friend (who doesn't know about this blog so I think I am pretty safe) gave me this book.....
Now I will admit I was taken aback a bit especially when I read the letter she wrote on the inside cover.... and I quote "When it comes to Judgement Day, and it will, I want to see you beside me choosing eternal life...." we had many discussions about her concern that I would be going to hell..... Now don't get me wrong, I am totally and utterly appreciative that I have someone in my life that loves and cares about me but I did have to tell her to back off before it started to affect our friendship. I don't believe anyone should push their beliefs on someone like that and I told her that IF it was something I wanted to know more about then I knew she would be there to ask but in the meantime don't judge me for not believing and I won't judge you for believing....
So going along to this Pure Land Learning Centre certainly wasn't something I would normally do but I must admit I found it very interesting and surprising. We arrived at 4pm and were given a tour of their grounds which included a vegetable garden where they grow everything they need and are trying to gain organic status and are starting to sell their veggies to the public (every Saturday if you are in Toowoomba and interested), we saw their Study Hall where they do their lessons in Buddhism and once a month (I think it was) they invite someone from another faith to come and share a lesson with them as they believe that to live in the community harmoniously they need to understand the beliefs of others. We saw their meditation hall where we observed some people doing sitting and walking meditations. The walkers were chanting a very majestic chant as they walked around and around the perimeter of the room. The Venerable that took us on the tour explained that people can walking meditate until they feel at peace and sometimes this can go on for up to 5 hours!

We were given a beautiful bracelet and some books, all free, and the kindness and generosity was overwhelming. The books, whilst written by a Venerable, do not push the Buddhist faith but rather talk about living the best life you can and showing courage and compassion towards others. Now THAT I do believe in...  
After our tour we were special guests at their weekly "Friendship Dinner". Every Saturday they put on a free dinner for the community, anyone and everyone is invited and the dining hall was PACKED. Some of their students had to leave and eat in the other hall to make room. We were served a vegetarian meal with everything coming from their own garden. Whilst I was a little apprehensive to try everything, what I did try was amazing! And they don't keep any of the food for themselves, if you wanted seconds, thirds, fourths, you were welcome to it and then given a take away container full as well if you wanted it. Each Saturday they invite a group from the community to perform or a guest speaker to talk to the masses. We were entertained by Sing Australia, a lovely group of oldies who sang a few songs for us. 

Throughout the whole experience our tour guide and Venerable kept telling us that Toowoomba was chosen by their Master as he believed it was the place that could be used as a Model City for Peace and Harmony for the rest of the world. The work they do in our community probably goes unnoticed by most but it was so lovely to hear them say how much they love it here and how they think the people of Toowoomba are so welcoming and accepting and the faith they have in the Toowoomba community was inspiring.

It's good to know that it's not only Miss America contestants that are wanting and working towards World Peace!

Linking up this Tuesday of course with Essentially Jess for IBOT!


  1. Sounds interesting.
    Obviously I'm unashamedly Christian :)

  2. I'm not a fan of organized religion, and have never been a churchgoer, but follow the "good karma" school of thought. I believe that you treat others how you would wish to be treated, and what goes around comes around.
    I think it sounds like you had a lovely experience :)

  3. Wow, I had no idea there was stuff like that around. I have to agree with them Toowoomba is a beautiful place :-)

    I can understand your Christian friend wanting to share her faith with you, like any Good News it's too good to keep to yourself! But at the same time it is a fine line to walk to let people know about the Good News, and respecting their beliefs and not shoving it down their throats either ... it's a difficult balance to achieve so I'm glad you are able to see it as a positive and that your friend obviously cares a lot for you!

  4. Oh man, when am I ever going to remember!

    Oh AND visiting from #TeamIBOT xxx

  5. Go you for taking the plunge. I went to a churchy boarding school, but as I've lived life I have decided that I'm more of an evolution girl - I think religion is great for those who believe in it, it's just not my thing. I believe in the universe and that everything we do affects our future xx Em x

  6. Thanks for sharing this - I would love to go there. I may have to organise a trip to Toowoomba one weekend and spend the night.
    I believe in spirituality rather than religion - about being compassionate and encouraging of those around me - of helping those who need it - to me that is what life is about.
    Have a great week and I hope that the first week back at school hasn't been too hectic !