On a happier note, this afternoon I attended the 2553rd birthday celebration of the Buddha, organised by the London Fo Guang Shan temple, in a specially erected marquee in Leicester Square. There was a procession through the streets of Soho, followed by the chanting of Sutras, and short speeches by the Deputy Lord Mayor od Westminster, Councillor Alexander Nicoll; the Ven Galayaye Piyadassi MBE of the Sri Saddhatissa Internatinal Buddhist Centre; the Ven Ajahn Khemadhammo Mahathera OBE of the Forest Hermitage (who had suggested that I attend, as I was delighted to do); Mr Jon Dai Din, director of the Westminster Interfaith Centre, and the Ben Chueh Ru, Deputy Chief Abbess of the Fo Guang Shan Temple. Then there was the ceremony of 'bathing the Buddha', using little images, and the guests were invited to join in.
I couldn't help thinking about the contrast between the Buddhist objective of countering greed, hatred and delusion, and the surroundings of Leicester Square. I well remember spending a night with the police in the area during the Licencing Bill, and seeing the appalling effects on young people attending the all-night alcohol joints.