INCREASE IN BUDDHISM OM-INOUS FOR CHURCH; Meditation Centre Making Monks out of Irish Devotees

Article excerpt

DOZENS of Irish people are flocking to join the Buddhist priesthood with numbers threatening to outstrip recruits to the Catholic Church.

The Eastern-based religion has now up to 30 novices training to become monks.

And those taking part in the training, which can take up to six years, are aged from mid-20s to their 50s.

Many new recruits have been attracted through the regular meditation classes held in the Buddhist centre in the middle of Dublin's entertainment district at Temple Bar.

When they become priests, they are completely free to do what they want.

Ireland's leading Buddhist, Scotsman Fangha Pala, said: "Some would teach, some would work in Buddhist businesses, some are family men who would continue to look after their families and work in their jobs."

Fangha Pala is a monk who came to Ireland to start up a centre here 10 years ago.

"We were in quite a number of European countries but not in Ireland.

"My folks are from Donegal and being a young 20-something thought that someone should take this show to Ireland so that's what I did."

And since opening the doors of the unassuming headquarters in the heart of Temple Bar, Fangha Pala has seen a steady stream of people pass through the doors.

But he claims never really to have thought about numbers, though he admits the 25-30 now in training is a large number. …