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Holy Isle News Archive

April 3, 2012
Article Photo

Rock Solid: Marie Helvin and Lama Yeshe Rinpoche. Read the full article below.

Holy Isle has been making news headlines since the 1700’s. While 300 years ago the majority of those headlines concerned sinking ships, messages in bottles, and elite fox hunting trips more recent years have seen a fair amount of publicity given to the Holy Isle Project.

Here on the island we recently unearthed a large red lever-arch file full of newspaper clippings, articles, press-releases, leaflets and other promotional articles dating back to the islands acquisition in 1992. We have searched long and hard for electronic versions of those articles and has uncovered a handful which are now in the “Holy Isle Newspaper Articles” section on the right hand side of this page. We are endeavouring to provide as much material as we can through scans and transcripts, and would like to request any material that you might have in order to create an archive.

We are also working on creating a ‘Writings’ section to house the reviews, blog entries, stories, accounts, reflections and memories of any and all of those people who know Holy Isle and would like to share what it means to them. No page is too big or too small so feel free to contribute anything, from that which tickles you to that which moves you to tears.

Below is a transcript of one of the articles, from The Sunday Times, found in the lever-arch file. Don’t forget to check out the others at the “Holy Isle News Archive” page to your right.

Island Life

To really acheive inner peace, the solitude of a Buddhist retreat is what you need. RINCHEN KHANDRO and MARIE HELVIN took time out on Scotland’s Holy Isle.

Anon, The Sunday Times.

Call it karma or coincidence, but this story is way up in the “It’s-a-small-world premiership league. In started last August, triggered by a piece in the Style section about Scotland’s Holy Island. The island now belongs to the Tibetan Buddhists of Samye Ling monastery, who are building a multi-faith retreat centre dedicated to achieving “world peace through inner peace”.

A popular idea, it would seem, considering the deluge of calls that ensued following publication. As a nun living at Samye Ling, which is near Lockerbie in Scotland, and working in the Holy Island Project office, I was at the receiving end.

Among the requests came one from a caller giving her name as M Helvin. After putting the phone down it struck me that it could have been the famous model, Marie. I happened to have been a friend of her sister Suzon, who ad died in a tragic accident. I slipped a note in to M Helvin along with the information, and two days later Marie phoned. She said that she felt inexplicably drawn to Holy Island and really wanted to plan a visit.

Marie juggled her schedule so that she could make a trip just before Easter. We arranged to go together and took with us a couple of cherry trees to plant in memory of her sister Suzon and my sister Shirley, both of who had died young. As soon as we stepped ashore we met Lama Yeshe Losal, the retreat master of Samye Ling, who welcomed us warmly and agreed to show Marie round after lunch with the islanders.

The lama’s evident joy and wisdom lit up the dining room as he patiently answered questions. “I’ve only done a little meditation and a one-month silent retreat. What advice would you give someone like myself?” asked Marie.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or the Buddha himself,” said the lama, smiling. “We all have the same potential. The only difference is that Buddha has already achieved his. Everybody is searching for inner satisfaction and a meaningful, happy life. People think they will achieve it through a good job, more money and possessions, but everything in life is impermanent. We can’t take what we have with us when we die. When we meditate, our mind becomes stable and develops clarity, so we appreciate what we have and realise that everything we need we have within us.”

After lunch, Lama Yeshe and Marie continued to talk as we strolled along the coastal path. “It’s so beautiful and peaceful here. It reminds me of my home in Hawaii. It must be the perfect place to meditate,” said Marie. The lama agreed that, for beginners, a pure and calm environment such as Holy Island is important. “It may be difficult for people in cities to develop their meditation, but coming to a place like this, at least to start with, gives you the opportunity to become naturally peaceful.”

The lama told Marie about the plans to build a retreat centre into the hillside, harmonising with the landscape and making use of the wind, sun and water to provide power. “Until then”, the lama smiled, “you can meditate in the rocks and caves, but you may have to share them with the wild goats.”

Later, back at the lighthouse cottage, after a bowl of home-grown vegetable soup, Marie and I collapsed into our beds. “Now I understand why I was drawn here,” Marie reflected. “Suzon’s death and my grieving had something to do with it, but it’s more than that. There is a sense of safety here that gives you the courage to let go. It makes you realise the need to be on your own, to explore inwardly – and personally, I need the sky and ocean, the stillness and beauty of nature to calm and inspire me.”

Next morning we planted our cherry trees in memory of our sisters where a clear spring bubbles up. We gave them a last spadeful of seaweed compost, a sprinkle of spring water, and a silent prayer to complete our ceremony. Feeling a little emotional, Marie and I hugged each other as she confided: “I swear I just heard Suzon say, ‘Me ke aloha pumehana,’ which is Hawaiian for ‘Until we meet again.'” “How strange,” I replied. “My sister Shirley just said, ‘About bloomin’ time, too,’ in pure Mancunian.”

Twenty-four hours after arriving, we boarded the boat to leave. As the island receeded into the distance, Marie’s glowing smile said it all. “I’ve barely left the place and I’m already planning to come back”.

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