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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday November 1, 2004

Buddhism - It's chanting Stan, but not as you know it

Stan's video diary entries
Stan Collymore and head monk Adjan
“Meditation is difficult, believe me, it's difficult.”
Stan Collmore
Stan's video diary - part one
Stan's video diary - part two
Stan's video diary - part three
  REALPLAYER REQUIRED

Stan Collymore left the latest reality TV show only to reveal his innermost secrets on a prime-time documentary. After so much exposure he is now going in search of spiritual enlightenment.

Join Stan as he swaps the chanting of the terraces for chanting of an entirely different kind.

Buddhism is a vast and complex philosophical tradition stretching back over 2,500 years.

In recent years it has attracted a growing number of high profile followers.

Hollywood celebrities in particular have been embracing the Buddhist principles which encourage self reflection in the form of meditation to achieve inner peace and happiness.

After a rollercoaster of a career, the notorious former footballer, Stan Collymore, is set to discover if Buddhism can provide him with spiritual enlightenment and inner calm.

"I suffer from depression and the ups and downs that brings," reveals Stan.

"So I thought I'd try out the Buddhist retreat for a weekend."

Whiter shade of pale

The bare essentials of Buddhism
  • 2,500 years old

  • 350 million Buddhists worldwide

  • Founded by Siddhartha Gautama in India

  • The path to Enlightenment or Buddhahood is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom

  • Buddhists do not believe in a creator God nor a personal God, but Buddhists are tolerant of those whose beliefs are different from theirs

  • Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent - change is always possible

  • Buddhism teaches that all life is interconnected, so compassion is natural and important

    Source: BBC Religion

Stan enrols for a weekend at the Buddhavihara Temple in Aston, but finds the term "temple" a little misleading.

Rather than a golden pagoda awaiting him, Stan discovers the temple looks like a rather ordinary Aston home.

But the attire worn inside is far from ordinary. The monks are dressed in saffron robes and Stan is kitted out in a white shirt signifying peace and serenity.

Adjan the head monk instructs Stan to light a candle to mark his arrival before settling down with other guests for an hour of chanting.

Buddhism is different from many other faiths as Buddhists do not believe in an overall creator.

They focus instead on personal spiritual development and the attainment of insight into the true nature of life.

Up with the lark

To achieve such enlightenment though is no mean feat as a bleary-eyed Stan finds out.

Chanting is top of the schedule for the visitors' first full day at the retreat, but with a 5am rise, even Stan's training days at Villa didn't require such an early start.

Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple and this worship can take several different forms.

Stan Collymore meditating
Stan spends hours chanting with the monks

Some sit on the floor barefoot facing an image of Buddha and chanting, whilst others listen to monks chanting and take part in prayers.

After a rather unusual, but thoroughly welcomed breakfast of chicken, chips and broccoli, it is back to chanting for Stan and the other guests.

"This is my first meal since 3pm yesterday, so between you and me, I'm starving," confides Stan.

For the monks though, a jaunt around the supermarket is on the agenda.

Dressed in saffron robes, the monks are an unusual sight carrying shopping baskets down the isles, but even Buddhist monks need to get provisions.

And Stan?

He's still chanting.

A little hoarse

"Two nights and two days of chanting, it's a long time and I'm starting to feel the strain," admits Stan

Stan Collymore at a Buddhist retreat
"The jury's out on whether it is something I can practically take into my everyday life."
Stan Collymore

As Sunday morning dawns, Stan voices his last chant and prepares to bid farewell to the monks of the Buddhavihara Temple.

At the graduation ceremony, Stan is presented with a band of friendship from Adjan, but is that the only thing Stan will be taking away with him?

"The people were fantastic," says Stan.

"But I won't be hurrying back for eight hours of meditation.

"I will definitely start in five minute chunks and see how I go from there.

"I really enjoyed it."

The chanting of the football terraces may be firmly behind him, but in the future will Stan be practising chanting of a more spiritual nature? Only time will tell.

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Buddhism can change your life

On bbc.co.uk
BBC Religion: Buddhism
BBC World Service: Buddhism

On the rest of the web
Introduction to Buddhism
Buddha Net
The Buddhavihara Temple

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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