When people get away from big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, they always try to explore something different from what they always see in the cities like beaches, water fall and historic places. But on Sunday 19th November 2017 some people were heading to Albury, city in the country around 330kms from Melbourne. They came to celebrate 7th Anniversary of a Buddhist Temple.
There are many Buddhist temples around big cities but only few small cities in Australia have Buddhist temples. It is not surprising because in the cities there are hundred thousands of overseas migrant from Asia who brought Buddhism with them but we can see not many migrants around in the country.
The group who start this seven years ago in Albury is part of a group of Buddhist monks and lay people who originally from Wat Phra Dhammakaya Thailand. They brought their master’s visions to Australia and established a meditation center in Sydney in 1998. In later years the group gaining supports to have centres in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Albury is only centre in reginal city they have in Australia.
The story of the journey in the past seven year was shared again in the congregation of 7th Anniversary by Phra Satit Thitadhammo. His journey at the beginning at South Albury wasn’t a nice one. Late 2010 start running Sunday service with no attendant which later gaining some and have regular comers on Sunday. Perhaps it is because the area, the temple had twice broken in, and rock attack at the time he spent there around two years. Finally he has to leave the place in South Albury due to unsolvable legal issue of that property. But all these did not stop him to continue the journey. He had in mind that “Without this centre it will be no light of the Dhamma in this region” He understand how hard to have a temple running here with little support.
In September 2013 after they have no place to run Sunday service the group always thanks to AISHA FLOW YOGA who generously offered them the place as a temporary home for almost a year.
The big turning point of the temple is when they found the property to be a permanent place for the temple. They aimed to find the place which has beautiful nature surrounding, big size of land, close to the centre of Albury-Wodonga and affordable price. They were lucky enough to find this property on East Street which was exact what they were looking for.
“I feel very proud that we carefully selected the best place to offer to the Buddha to be our Buddhist Temple. Our Temple building might not be so magnificent but for the beauty of the surrounding view, which would be hard to find elsewhere.” Said Phra Satit
A part from beautiful place they also have nice and warm welcome community here. The temple keeps traditional activities and also integrates some other activities to meet the Australian culture and diversity of the community.
The slogan for this year is “Step forward to the sustainable community”
Phra Satit explained that how we can contribute to make this sustainable community. Regarding to Buddhist practice the first step to make this society in good balance is giving. He emphasized to the audience that this is not just to talk but look at ourselves to make opportunity when we can be a giver.
On the celebration day they had set up a table for home grown sharing and it was very successful. People bring home grown to share kids make fresh orange juice to serve and say thank you to people that brought food to share on the day. It was a wonderful time that everyone enjoyed.
Additional to this year activity of the temple they also have an association called The Good Friends (Albury) Inc. The group will bring the Dhamma practice to life. Phra Satit, the founder of this association mentioned that the entity applies social entrepreneurship as its development strategy. They will engage more in supporting the local community as part of the practice as well as running eco-friendly community online store. The store will help to maintain financial sustainability of the temple. The good friends Albury store have its slogan “an eco-friendly innovative social enterprise” The information about The Good Friends (Albury) Inc. can be found from their facebook page and http://thegoodfriendsalbury.org