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The Tibet monastery’s prayer room was burnt in Bendigo

Update: 19/03/2015
Monks at the Thubten Shedrup Ling monastery in Myers Flat are in shock after their new prayer room was completely destroyed in a fire on Friday.
 

The Tibet monastery’s prayer room was burnt in Bendigo

 

The fire destroyed $145,000 worth of property and the\r\nbuilding was yet to be insured.

The fire was accidentally lit by a Nepalese family who\r\ntravelled from Melbourne to the monastery north of Bendigo to mourn the death\r\nof their father.

The family lit a lot of small candles on the alter during\r\ntheir ceremony and did not put them out before they left.

The candles caught other items on the alter and within\r\nminutes the entire building was alight.

Monastery director Gyatso said the family\r\n"blissfully" drove back to Melbourne, unaware of what had happened.

The Bendigo Advertiser filmed this story four months ago in\r\nthe new prayer room. Video by Leigh Sharp.

The monks have no contact details for the family, but don't\r\nwant to contact them anyway.

"They'd feel terrible, there's no point," Gyatso\r\nsaid.

"I think better they remain in ignorant bliss."

Gyatso said a big problem was the building was not yet\r\ninsured.

"It was on the list of things to do," Gyatso said.

"It didn't occur to me - an internal fire in such a new\r\nbuilding."

He estimated the damage to the building to be worth up to\r\n$100,000 and the value of items such as statues and Buddhist texts to be worth\r\nat least $45,000.

The spiritual loss is more difficult for the monks because\r\nmost of the items are irreplaceable.

There was a wooden Mongolian statue worth $15,000 which\r\nGyatso himself bought and it is completely gone.

But he said he was taking the loss in his stride.

"Images are just aides anyway, they're not vital or\r\nessential," he said.

"They provide the atmosphere and they're focuses to\r\nkeep the mind in line with the teachings.

"They're symbolic value, like a crucifix."

The prayer room was finished in September last year after 18\r\nmonths of labour by the monks, volunteers and tradesman.

The ground level of the prayer room is totally burnt and the\r\nupper storey has extensive smoke damage. A part of the floor in the upstairs\r\nlounge areas has been damaged so it cannot be used until engineers assess its\r\nsafety.

"We're all stunned. It was so beautiful and it was\r\nfunctioning so well," Gyatso said.

By the time the monks noticed the building was on fire the\r\nprayer room was full of smoke and it was impossible to get inside.

Gyatso said the CFA came very quickly, but the fire consumed\r\nthe building very quickly, in about 20 minutes.

He arrived at the monastery just as the last fire truck was\r\nleaving.

"I thought there's no point getting upset," he\r\nsaid.

"Teaching in Buddhism is everything is\r\nimpermanent.

"Fortunately no people were hurt."

Gyatso said the prayer room was an essential part of the\r\nmonastery because it was the main meditation room and accommodation for\r\nvisiting teachers.

The monastery has employed a Tibetan monk from South India\r\nto become its new abbot and the plan was for him to live in that building.

"I was so looking forward to showing him the new\r\nbuilding," Gyatso said.

A Buddhist teacher connected to the Thubten Shedrup Ling\r\nmonastery has already donated $50,000 to rebuilding the prayer room, but the\r\nmonks will also have to fundraiser.

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"It'll be different when it's rebuilt but we'll just go\r\nahead and do it," Gyatso said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Theo Bendigo Advertiser , 13 March 2015

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