Coronavirus: Former monk on lockdown alone in one of UK’s most beautiful gardens

A former Buddhist monk has said coronavirus is a warning to mankind – but that he is grateful to have the “heaven” of one of the UK’s most spectacular gardens during the lockdown.

Buddha Maitreya has devoted himself to meditation for the last 50 years – 44 of which he has used to lovingly create his two-acre Japanese garden in rural Nottinghamshire.

In normal times, the 79-year-old has hundreds of visitors in the spring, with people coming from across the country to learn about meditation and enjoy the garden.

But like thousands of other attractions, the Pure Land Meditation Centre and Japanese Garden has been forced to close due to coronavirus.

“Hundreds of people come at this time of year because it’s at its most beautiful. But now there’s nobody,” Buddha Maitreya said.

“It’s sad people cannot share the peace and the beauty but I’m happy to be here. It’s heaven.

“After 44 years, the garden is absolutely established now, it’s complete and it’s glorious.”

Born Koji Takeuchi, in Handa, near Nagoya, in Japan, Buddha Maitreya said he believed the the virus was a lesson to the world about how humans deal with nature.

“I see the present coronavirus as a grave warning from nature to mankind that we have to change the way we live now on this planet,” he said.

“The human race has created materialistic civilisation that has brought massive prosperity and wealth to the world, especially to the industrialised nations, but it is with a huge price – catastrophic exploitation, devastation of the environment, destruction of nature.

“And finally, nature turns against us, forcing us to stop economic, industrial and social activities altogether and locking down the world through the pandemic.”

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