by Matt Dawson
Gomde UK – https://gomde.uk/
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is building a temple on an island in Yorkshire, England (https://gomde.uk/projects). I was fortunate enough to meet up with Paulette Benjamin, trustee and long term student of Chokyi Nyima, who is overseeing and facilitating the construction of the temple on Lindholme Hall Estate on his behalf.
The Lindholme Hall Estate is the home of Gomde UK. The estate is a 180-acre ‘island’, which lies within the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, in the centre of Hatfield Moor. The Lindholme ‘island’, once only accessible by boat, can now be reached across the peatland via a one-mile single-track road. The beauty and seclusion of the estate make Lindholme Hall a perfect place for the practice and study of the teachings of the Buddha.
“Currently, our local volunteers offer on average, 190 hours of direct support to the centre every week. Over the course of a year, our total volunteer support exceeds 14,000 hours.”
Paulette Benjamin told me.
She also mentioned that they have been working with local government to preserve the environment and the organisation has maintained a strong emphasis on conservation and the environment. Much of the information relating to this effort is on their website (https://gomde.uk/conservation) and I have included a few pieces of information below for those interested in how Gomde is integrating Dharma with caring for the environment.
Dharma and the Environment
The Buddha asked us to examine things carefully. When we do this, it becomes clear that nothing lasts forever and that everything is impermanent. We become less preoccupied with selfish aims and more appreciative of positive conditions and situations. Seeing that nothing lasts, we become more inclined to take care of finite resources.
We are not isolated individuals. On the contrary, we are fundamentally interconnected as all phenomena arise through the coming together of countless causes and conditions. All our actions have a corresponding result. Everything we do, think and say matters.
In a 2010 interview, our spiritual director Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche said:
“The negative effects of pollution and abuse of the environment tend to accumulate if left unchecked, so problems are going to multiply with the passage of time. Farmers, suppliers, merchants, consumers, politicians – whoever we are – we need to take good care of ourselves. If we don’t do so now it may become too late. There are plenty of signs that time is running out.”
Sustainability & Self-Sufficiency
With Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche’s kind permission and encouragement, in December 2011 we installed a 9.9-kW-peak 44-panel photoelectric array on the south-facing roof of the meditation hall. It produces about 70% of our electricity and is connected to the National Grid.
This Micro Generating System (MGS) is subsidised under a UK Government scheme. The Government guarantees payments to MGSs for 25 years, in the form of a payment for each kilowatt of electricity generated, whether used here or exported to the grid.
The system was purchased for £20,900 and is funded through a short-term private loan. The estimated savings are between £3,500–£4,000 per year. For the first five years, the savings will be used to pay off the loan. In the course of the 25-year agreement, the benefit to Gomde will be approximately £125,000.
In January 2015, we installed a log gasification system. This has immense environmental and financial benefits. Our buildings were previously heated with oil. With the log-fired boiler we now use sustainable wood harvested from our land — an amazing, free, renewable resource!
This was achieved through the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, a 20-year agreement under which the government pays us to use renewable energy for heating and hot water.
The log gasification system is a large wood-burning stove which stores heat in thermal tanks — an 80kW log boiler with an 8,000-litre hot water thermal buffer tank. It is super-efficient and requires burning once per week in summer, and in the coldest winter, once per day. This size of boiler entitles us to an annual subsidy of around £6,000. We estimate the total savings at £10,000–£11,000 per year.
We want all building and development at Gomde to be energy-efficient. Upgrades and renovations already undertaken here are in line with this policy and include the meditation hall, attic rooms in the Hall and resident community rooms. The recently acquired Lindholme Cottage also needed some refurbishment, which has been be undertaken in line with this policy.
Ultimately we would like to produce all of our own food. We have a walled vegetable garden with a number of plots which have produced significant amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. We also harvest a lot of wild fruit and exchange produce with local gardeners.
We plan to steadily increase the area devoted to fruit and vegetable production, add trees to the traditional orchard on the land, and create a nuttery near the meditation hall.