The Spiritual Care Centre will be a home away from home, a refuge where those who are sick or facing death can come, with family or friends, for periods of rest in a welcoming and healing atmosphere. It will bring together the Buddhist perspective on death and methods for caring for the dying along with insights from modern hospice work in order to benefit people from all walks of life and of any religious orientation.
Speaking to a crowd of over five hundred people including clergy, medical professionals, politicians, the local community, and Rigpa sangha members, President Mc Aleese said, “what a particular joy it is to be in the company of Sogyal Rinpoche, whose wonderful work…so well known to so many people right around the world…bring[s] home to us a subject that so many of us want to run away from. That we don’t want to face.., that we cannot face… and then when we do face…, discover how ill prepared we are for the journey that we are about to embark on. [It is] so wonderful to see how your work and the work that is being done here and the work that will be done here, through the new Spiritual Care Centre, will complement, underpin, and work so well with the new mood…in palliative medicine, in hospice care, which is all about the same business of trying to allow us the dignity of dying well, of good deaths, of deaths that don’t terrify, of processes towards death that don’t convulse us with terror, but rather help us to release in ourselves and for our families something that is good, is healing, is uplifting…I think that is one of the great things that you are helping us to do here. To make a friend of death, which actually seems in so many ways, such a strange journey to cope with, such a very very important journey to [take].”
During her visit, President McAleese also dedicated a plaque to Harriet Cornish. Peter and Harriet Cornish bought the land where Dzogchen Beara is located in 1973 with the dream of creating a place that would address the spiritual needs of people in modern society. In 1992, they made a gift of the land and buildings to a charitable trust under the spiritual guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche. Harriet died in 1993 and her death, and the way she was cared for, was an inspiration for building the Spiritual Care Centre at Dzogchen Beara.
The full details of the Presidents visit, her speech, as well as a twenty minute video piece (excerpts of which will also be broadcast on prime time national television throughout Ireland) will be shown to Rigpa students at the next Sangha day in early October.