Battersea Park in London contains one of three Buddhist Peace Pagodas in the UK. It was built in 1985 in the same year as the 100th birthday and death of Nichidatsu Fuji, a Nichiren monk, who founded the movement, Nipponzan-Myōhōji, which built these monuments to peace around the world. He was a also a friend of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Pagoda contains three large golden images taken from the life story of Gautama Buddha, or simply, The Buddha. I’m sure everyone remembers at least fragments of the life of the Buddha, but in case not…
Around 2,500 years ago, there was a young Indian prince, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived a sheltered life. At the age of 29, he finally encountered the realities of ageing, sickness, and death outside of the confines of the palace.
This moved him profoundly, some say to depression and he initially searched for ways to overcome the suffering of life and death. He gave up his princely possessions and left his family to become an ascetic – basically a religious beggar.
He took the ascetic lifestyle so seriously that he nearly starved to death.
Eventually he sat beneath a Pipal tree, now known as the famous Bodhi tree, and vowed not to move until he had discovered the Truth about life and death.
He is said to have meditated for 49 days until he reached a state of enlightenment. From that moment, he became known as Gautama Buddha, or Shakyamuni Buddha (Shakya being the name of the district he was from).
Shakyamuni lived a long life and taught many hundreds of people who became his followers. His teachings were eventually written down as the Sutras and his followers became known as Buddhists.
The final image shows the point at which Shakyamuni died, aged 80, surrounded by his followers.
In three months time I shall marry a Buddhist in a Buddhist ceremony.