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24 September 2014
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    Peaceful pagoda in bustling new city
    Lucy at the Pagoda
    Lucy at the peace pagoda
    We've joined the national search on BBC Radio 4 to find the nation's most spiritual place. Lucy Newman visited the Buddhist Temple and peace pagoda in Willen to see if Milton Keynes could have a spiritual side.
    WATCH & LISTEN
    SEE ALSO

    The Nation's Favourite Spiritual Place

    Bhaktivedanta Manor

    The Dappled Garden

    The Peace Pagoda at Willen

    Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence

    The Shrine of St Alban

    WEB LINKS

    Bhaktivedanta Manor

    Quiet Garden

    Peace Pagoda, Willen

    Shaw's Corner

    The Shrine of St Alban

    The Diocese of St Albans Web site


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
    ESSENTIAL INFO

    A pagoda is a form of ancient memorial to the Buddha and his teaching.

    The custom of building them was revived after World War Two by a Japanese Buddhist leader who was horrified by the effect of the nuclear bomb at Hiroshoma.

    He dedicated his life to peace Buddhism and to teaching people non-violence and part of this was building peace pagodas.

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    The Peace Pagoda, Willen - Lucy Newman
    Milton Keynes is a new city for the 21st century, with its energy efficient housing, ever-growing shopping centre and the largest indoor ski slope in Europe. It has a history of only 40 years and a reputation for crazy schemes and wacky buildings. So can a modern town such as this have a spiritual side?

    Lucy at the pagoda
    Lucy at the peace pagoda

    Well, I think it can and I found it at the Buddhist Temple and peace pagoda in Willen. The Nipponzan Myohoji - as it is called in Japanese - is a focal point for Buddhism in the whole of the Western world. The peace pagoda was the first to be built in the western hemisphere and Milton Keynes was chosen to be its host.

    Why Willen?
    A pagoda is a form of ancient memorial to the Buddha and his teaching. Horrified by the effect of the nuclear bomb at Hiroshoma, a Japanese Buddhist leader revived the custom of building them after World War Two.

    Dedicating his life to peace Buddhism, he sent his nuns and monks all over the world to build peace pagodas. One monk came to Britain and was introduced to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation.

    They invited the monk's order to come to Milton Keynes to build a pagoda at Willen. The land was leased to them in exchange for them planting one cherry tree a year. The Japanese temple and gardens soon followed.

    Why I like the temple?
    The beautiful gardens are maintained by the residents of the temple and there are at least four there at all times.
    The gardens are in the traditional Japanese style and visitors are free to walk around them.

    Lucy's new hat
    Tranquility and peace - and a place to regain your sense of humour!

    I like the temple because people are welcome at all times and you are left to spend as much time as you want there. You can go to the temple to think or to pray or when something special happens in your life. Visitors also went to the pagoda to think about and pray for all the people affected by the war in Iraq.

    I find the temple and peace pagoda remarkable because they can be found in a bustling new city which is modern and vibrant, yet by visiting them you can experience tranquility and peace in the middle of all this.

    The main road - the A509 - is just a couple of minutes away but traffic and rush hours seem miles away. The site feels remote and special and is a unique part of Milton Keynes.

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