WITH just 400 Kirklees people declaring themselves as Buddhist at the 2001 Census, Huddersfield’s Buddhist community inevitably has a much lower profile than other religions.
And with no big parades through town or major presence in the media it is easy to dismiss Buddhism as a self indulgent pastime for middle-class hippies.
The truth is that the religion does not believe in recruiting new followers through indoctrination or propaganda and instead relies on people finding it for themselves.
Buddhism is principally focused on self-improvement through teaching and meditation and Buddhists do not worship any god.
Buddha literally means ‘one who is awake’ and denotes a person who has attained the supreme wisdom and compassion of enlightenment.
Former Huddersfield University music student Joe Brooks began practising the religion four years ago.
Joe, 24, is one of 12 people living at the Vajrapani Buddhist Centre in Birkby.
The centre offers three teaching programmes for its residents and teaches classes in Marsden, Holmfirth and Wakefield.
It also operates a World Peace Cafe for everyone in the community.
Vajrapani Kadampa Buddhists first settled in Huddersfield in 1987. The centre was established originally as a branch of Madhyamaka Kadampa Buddhist Centre in York. It became a residential centre in 1998 and moved into the former Birkby Baptist Church in November 2006.
Joe said while there was little fanfare around Buddhism in Huddersfield, the community still did good work without going round preaching or trying to convert people.
He said: “We don’t promote our religion as such. If people want to come and have a coffee at our cafe or to a meditation class that’s fine.
“We have school visits and people come in and ask questions.