On the 25th of June 2019, the venerable master monk Haitao visited Durham for a day as one of his stops in his world tour, aiming to spread the ideas of Buddhism and unite Buddhist practitioners in local areas.
The Master monk Haitao is a renowned Buddhist monk in Chinese societies and a distinguished name in Chinese communities around the globe. During his trip in Durham, he was first greeted by the city Mayor Katie Corrigan and the Mayor’s consort, Bill Moir. Then he had a tour with the Dean of the Durham Cathedral, Rev. Andrew Tremlett and a talk with the Chaplin of the Durham University, Rev. Gavin Wort. at lunch time. In the afternoon, the master monk browsed the Oriental Museum in the companion of the museum’s principal, Dr. Craig Barclay. Throughout the trip, the master monk Haitao and his team were accompanied by the main organiser of this event—the Durham Market’s manager Colin Wilkes and the representative of the Durham City Chinese community, head teacher of the Durham Chinese School, Mr. Haoyang Liu.
In the morning, the master monk Haitao commenced his visit by meeting up with the Durham Mayor, Katie Corrigan and the Mayor’s Consort, Bill Moir. The Mayor expressed her warmest welcome to the master monk by sending him flowers and a badge which represents the city of Durham. After some short talks with the city mayor and the Mayor’s consort, the master monk Haitao began his Buddhist practice of sending wishes to the city of Durham and its people under a tent, where an image of the Sun is made up by a variety of fruits and flowers. Over a hundred people gathered around the tent to watch this practice. Amongst them were people from different national and ethnic backgrounds, and people with different religious beliefs. Together people participated this Buddhist practice with the master monk Haitao, and next to him, the city Mayor.
After the practice, the master monk Haitao paid his visit to the Durham Cathedral. During this period, he was guided by the Dean of the Cathedral, Andrew Tremlett. Andrew mentioned the burial place of the Saint Bede in the Cathedral, and that next to it on the wall, was a painting of birds suspending around the St. Bede in the middle of the sea. The master monk Haitao raised his question about this painting, and the Dean Andrew explained, this painting showed that the birds were trying to keep the St. Bede warm in the sea for his sacrifice for the people. The Master monk Haitao smiled and recognised this special relationship between the animals and humans, and said: ‘when one is doing good deeds for beings, he/she will have strong support from all kinds of beings no matter what they are.’ The Dean Andrew agreed and expressed his appreciation to the harmony between the two religions that were linked in this theme of love. This Cathedral tour was ended with some warm tea in the mansion that has belonged to the Deans of the Cathedral throughout the centuries.
Finally, after a vegetarian meal, the master monk and his team arrived at the Oriental Museum. This time the master monk Haitao was guided by the principal of the museum, Craig Barclay. Although the time was limited, the principal gave the team a concise tour of the museum, which included the discoveries of the buried head of the Buddha in Nepal, and some other Buddhist treasures founded in the middle-east. In addition, the principal showed the master monk Haitao the galleries of the Chinese culture and some other oriental cultures. He said: ‘The Oriental Museum was served as one of the most important educational places for the school pupils and university students in the northeast of England.’ And they planned to expand their galleries and include more oriental exhibitions in the near future.
The venerable master monk Haitao’s tour in Durham concluded with a gift exchange with the principal of the museum Craig Barclay. The principal gifted the master monk a bunch of flowers and invited him to leave his signature on the museum’s visitor’s book, and in return, a miniature of the Buddha and a long thread of the Buddhist beads were prepared and given to the principal for memory. After this, the master monk Haitao and his team set off for their trip to their next destination—Newcastle.