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Haven of peace in the middle of town

PUBLISHED: 12:40 07 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

PEACE and calm has descended on a corner of Ipswich's busy town centre, with the opening of a Buddhist centre. Amid the hustle and bustle of the town's shopping precincts, a group of Buddhists have established a permanent centre in The Thoroughfare, where confirmed practitioners can meditate and pray.

PEACE and calm has descended on a corner of Ipswich's busy town centre, with the opening of a Buddhist centre.

Amid the hustle and bustle of the town's shopping precincts, a group of Buddhists have established a permanent centre in The Thoroughfare, where confirmed practitioners can meditate and pray – and where the simply curious can explore the Buddhist faith.

Town mayor Maureen Carrington-Brown and her consort Freddie Cox officially opened the Buddhist Centre yesterday. With other guests, they sat through celebratory prayers to the sound of a Buddhist chant and the sweet smell of incense in the newly-installed shrine.

She told the Star: "We are a multi-faith society and we are able to live together with mutual respect and tolerance.

"I'm sure that the people of Ipswich welcome the opening of the centre which is just another indication of the increasingly multi-cultural society in which we live."

Jnanamitra, the leader of the Buddhist movement in Ipswich, explained that her members' journey to peace of mind had taken in front rooms of residential homes, and cold upper rooms in pubs and the library before they found their spiritual home after a six-year search above the Evolution shop, which has been run by Buddhist members for the last ten years.

"Meditation helps you to stop in a materialistic world – and here in the heart of the shopping centre we have a haven of peace and tranquillity. What we offer fills up a spiritual vacuum." said Jnanamitra, of Bramford Road.

"It's a very different culture. It can seem that we're living in cloud cuckoo land but we are sincere in a cynical society."

The Western Buddhist Order grew out of the popularity of Buddhism in recent decades, which was founded in India in 500BC, by Siddartha Gautama who became known as Buddha. Buddhist teachings emphasise a respect for all life forms.

More than 40 people regularly attend the weekly meetings at the centre, including one – on Wednesday evenings – which is open to anyone wanting to try meditation techniques.

Those who want to find out more about these meetings can call the centre on 01473 211516 or visit the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order at www.fwbo.org

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