Jim Mcilroy

The Peace Pagoda

I have lived in this area since 1985 and got to know a lot of local features over the years. Although many people associate Milton Keynes with the concrete cows in conversation, for me the association is the Peace Pagoda which formed a striking image one day as I drove into the area. In my work I use photography and it is also a hobby. I am told by people that I have a photographic memory and perhaps that is the case, but it is certainly true that I file memories in the form of images so if I were asked of an early memory of this area one that would come to mind quickly would be that of the Peace Pagoda.

The location of the Peace Pagoda is on the north shore of Willen Lake and it can be seen driving in to the city from the east along the A509 which is the link road to the M1 motorway which is where I saw the Pagoda for the first time. Other vantage points are from the west and there is a car park near the Pagoda roundabout. The Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda was inaugurated on the 21st September 1980, and was the first of that type to be built in the Western world. It was built by the monks of the Nipponzan Myohoji which is a spiritual non-violent movement. The frieze around the pagoda structure is of traditional design and relates the story of Buddha from his birth to the end of his life. The Peace Pagoda is a working temple and the monks hold services there.

Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda shot from north shore of Willen Lake in winter 2013 by Jim.

In my travels I have also visited the Far East and these journeys started when I received an invitation to a family wedding in Australia. My uncle set out for Australia some years back from Ireland as one of the ‘Ten Pound Poms’, that being the price of the ticket on the boat. Later he got married over there and one of his sons was now tying the knot. A ticket to Australia was now somewhat more than a tenner but if there is one trip in everyone’s lifetime then this was going to be it. As Australia is on the far side of the world the journey was planned to allow a stopover in Bangkok in Thailand. The plane touched down at the old Don Muang airport and when I stepped onto the airport tarmac I had a sense of something. Some might call that ‘deja vue’ but that would be too accurate. Nevertheless it was a sensation that I remember. Since that time I have been to Thailand on a few occasions and also Japan. I remain interested in the customs and practices of various countries in the Far East and have read about Buddhism.

On the Milton Keynes website (Reference 1) there is a description which says ‘The Pagoda is a sanctuary and permanent refuge for all living beings’. These words are also seen at the Pagoda which is a place of beauty and peace. So if on reading this you are in the area, go and see for yourself. You can also walk around the shores of Willen Lake.

References 1. http://www.mkweb.co.uk/places_to_visit/displayarticle.asp?id=411

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