Buddhist Dharma Centre, 30 years of practice in Finland by Pekka Airaksinen
My name is Pekka Airaksinen, my Buddhist name is Maitreya and my Tibetan name is Lödro Gyatse. I am a practiser of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of Buddhist Dharma Centre in Finland. I started meditation in early 1970’s. My first contact with Buddhist Group was in 1974 and I was quite active. I spend also some time in England. Until about 1980 I moved outside of Helsinki about two hours from Helsinki in the old School house and started Meditation Centre. At that time I had been practising meditation about ten years and I had some friends who joined me in building this Meditation Centre. Also I was doing it with some other Buddhist Groups but little by little this Centre became independent and practises were Tibetan Buddhist Meditation. My first great Tibetan Buddhist teacher was venerable Kalu Rinpoche who I met in 1978. In 1980’s I met him few times and also spend some time in Sonada. Another great Tibetan teacher was H.H Dilgo Khyentse who I met briefly in Holland in 1983. Also his Hylyness Sakya Trzin was in Sweden in early 1980´s and later I spend some time with him in North India. The main teachers has been Nyigma and Kaguyi tradition and I have spend some time in North India, have been there several times and also in Nepal in Monastery of venerable Tenga Rinpoche and venerable Thrangu Rinpoche and also some time in Sikkim in Rumtek. The third Jamgon Kongtrul was very important and I got from him many important techings.
In 1980’s we had regular activities. We had at least one retreat in every month and also many other activities. We had meditation groups in Helsinki and Turku which had weakly meditations. (At that time) in 1980’s we also had one important non-Buddhist teacher, Svami Anandanand, who had a Yoga Hospital in Jaipur. He was three times in our place.The last time in 1989, he was ninety years old. He was especially good in meditation. and had been in retreat in mountais twice 12 year period.
In early 1990’s there were some young people, who wanted to move to Alastaro to be in contact with Meditation Centre. Soon we had a of village of about ten people and we had regular meetings and practises. In 1990’s we had quite active time. We had meditation groups in Tampere and in Helsinki we had a combined shop and Meditation Centre also we had an art gallery. This was in about 1995 to 2000.
In late 1990’s we bought a house to became the retreat centre about 50 kilometres north of Pori. It’s quite big house that had been an old people’s home. There we built first Finnish Stupa with thehelp of Tulku Pema Wangyal and his Brothers and Sister. Lamas from Nepal an France made the consecration ceremony in September 2001 . Stupa was made very traditional way with wonderful relics inside. After that we had three years Retreat. It was the first three years Retreat in Finland. And after that we have had activities in Retreat Place in Meditation Centre and we have groups in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. We have about 50 regular active members.
One activity that we have is art. . Many talented artists have have been involved.I have studied music and also acted on that field.. I have composed music that is influenced by buddhism but it’s not traditional or ethnic music but it’s buddhist modern music. Another area is traditional Tibetan Art. We have a quite big collection of thanka paintings, three-four hundreds thanka paintings and also quite many rupas.
Dharma centre has a translation group.
We have published traditional Buddhist books like Biography of Padmasambava – Life and Liberation of Padmasambava, Sukhavativiuha Sutra Sutra,84 Mahasiddhas,Atishas 7 point mind training with commentaries by Dilgo Khyentse,Lifestory of Marpa, Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutra, Shantidevas Boditsattvacaryavatara. Two Editions of Songs of Milarepa and Juvel Ornament Liberation of Gampopa. We have translated and published first time in Finnish these Books. At the moment we are working with another Gampopa text and also we have planned to publish and translate book on Buddhist psychology also Yeshe Tsogyals life story has been translated.. Our firs translation was Large Prajnaparamita. The sutra is still under work.
Tibetan Buddhist tradition is rich and profound. It is important that Buddhism in west is founded on living Buddhist traditions and on teachings of great masters. It is possible that in future buddhism finds new ways to integrate into western world, in thinking ethics art and culture.