A BUDDHIST community in York is looking forward to "making more people feel happy" this year following its expansion in 2022.

York Buddhist Centre moved from its previous temple in Gillygate and into 17 Walmgate over the summer, officially reopening in October, which has enabled it to offer an expanded programme of classes and meditation sessions.

The centre welcomes 50 to 60 regular members a week, who attend the lunchtime meditation sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 12.10pm, Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm, and Saturdays at 10.30am, which couldn’t be accommodated before in the previous space.

York Press: Shakyapada and Mark meditating Shakyapada and Mark meditating (Image: Emily Horner)

The centre also hosts weekly Sangha nights, and Introduction to Buddhism courses,(the next one begins January 24) as well as day retreats.

Everything the centre offers is free of charge.

Shakyapada, chairman of the Buddhist Centre, said: "We want to continue to grow because we want to help more people to be happy.

"Our members say it feels like coming home, we’re just ordinary humans who have discovered the path to happiness.

"People are fed up, they feel like something is lacking in their lives, they experience losses, depression builds up, and go through existential crises.

"People are looking for contentment, though Buddhism is not a bed of roses – we are encouraged to meditate and face those things."

York Press: Members of York's Buddhist communityMembers of York's Buddhist community (Image: York Buddhist Centre)

Mark Jones, the centre trustee, said: "We want to keep contact with everyone. When we first started we knew everybody, and we want to keep that sense of inclusiveness.

"There is a great emphasis on friendship here and everyone is made to feel welcome, we take everyone as they are.

"Nobody has to become a Buddhist to come here, and people can come as often and for as long as they like."

Over the last year, the centre has held three Buddhism initiation ceremonies, for a few people at a time, and two people have become ordained, a process which can take from seven up to 20 years. 

York Press: The Shrine roomThe Shrine room (Image: York Buddhist Centre)

Shakyapada, who is ordained herself, said: "A lot of the modern secular wellbeing teachings, such as mindfulness, is based on Buddhist ideas, but we go more in depth.

“The Buddha wasn’t really a prophet; he was more of a philosopher. He just wanted people to be happy and he’d found the secret.”.

The commmunity follow the global Triratna tradition of Buddhism, founded in 1968, which they describe as more accessible to westernised perspectives, as nobody is "forced into a particular mould".

Triratna adheres to the basic teachings of Buddhism, however followers can choose what particular practices resonate with them the best.

Shakyapada said: "It’s transformed my life, before I used to be really dissatisfied and very unhappy; I had money, a partner, and a house, but I was fed up.

"Now I’ve learned to accept things the way they are and change my attitude towards life."