Sunday, October 29, 2006

Engaged Buddhism breaking out across FWBO...?

FWBO News has noticed more and more groups around the FWBO exploring and experimenting with environmentally and socially engaged Buddhism. This report aims to introduce you to the ones we’ve heard of - in the hope some of them might inspire, provoke, or cajole you too… Please let us know of others doing similar things, especially outside Britain.

The North London Buddhist Centre have a long-standing group called ESA (‘Environmental and Social Action’) with its associated newsletter ‘Buddhist Action’. At the start of November they will be participating in the UK’s national climate change march, organizing around it a weekend of discussion, meditation and reflection under the banner of ‘conditioned CO2production’. They get the Best Event Title award… In the new year one of their founder members is off to Israel/Palestine to work for six months with the EAPPI (‘Ecumenical Accompanier Programme in Palestine & Israel’) programme escorting children to school through sniper zones, settler harassment, and other trouble spots.

The Glasgow Buddhist Centre has a thriving group, the ‘Shambolic Warriors’ who recently participated in the Long Walk from Faslane to Edinburgh and as part of ‘Faslane365’ last week hosted a two-day ‘Sitting in Peace’ protest at the gates of Faslane Naval Base – home of Trident, Britain’s nuclear submarines. They naturally walk away with the Best Group Name award. Another group of engaged Buddhists from the FWBO will be there in November – contact Maitrisara for details.

The Birmingham Buddhist Centre recently started a Buddhist Amnesty group – apparently, and surprisingly, the first Buddhist group formally affiliated to Amnesty. Amnesty provide them with relevant appeals, they write letters and work in other ways to raise awareness of the plight of Amnesty’s cases.

The London Buddhist Centre has for ten years been involved in local grass-roots campaigns as an active member of TELCO (‘The East London Communities Organisation’) and more recently, exploring issues around race and Sangha in their ‘people of colour’ group – a challenging and transformative place to be, by all accounts. Readers of FWBO News will also remember their street meditations in support of ‘Peace One Day’ last month.

The Dhammakranti Team in India are pioneering a unique and bold move to establish a true ‘casteless society’ in Buddhist India. To do this they have to spread the Dhamma to other castes and other regions of India, to do that demands from them extraordinary courage, involving as it does breaking all bounds of ingrained conditioning and external prejudice, not to mention shouldering considerable financial risks. Current readers of FWBO News will be aware of the great progress they have made in recent months.

The P.S…Eco-Buddhist Practice network is dormant at present but in the past has been a lively forum and source of three Movement-wide campaigns (Switching To Renewable Electricity, Going Carbon-Neutral, and promoting the Mandala of Food Awareness) Details are still on the website at

The Redwoods are an informal group of Order Members in the UK and beyond with strong links to Buddhafield. They have come together to explore and articulate an ecological/activist perspective on the Dharma. Three of them will be leading the upcoming Engaged Buddhism retreat at Padmaloka in early November. Dhanakosa and Taraloka have also both hosted ‘Deep Ecology’ retreats this year, drawing on the work and exercises of Joanna Macy. Taraloka’s was attended by over 40 people and became known as the ‘no-Jo’ retreat as Joanna Macy was meant to lead it but didn’t due to ill-health. Many of the above initiatives came out of the no-Jo retreat, including reports just in of a new group around the Manchester Buddhist Centre, known as M4Action.

FWBO News would be delighted to hear of other groups or individuals associated with the FWBO who are exploring ‘Engaged Buddhism’ in these or other ways.



Blogger Derek Wall said...

Well I am in the IZA and I find Zen essential, anyway don't what to discuss Zen and the political here...although I discuss on my blog..

hope you enjoyed the march for climate preservation today, also look out for the Plane Stupid action against short haul flights on Monday,

Blogger Bodhi said...

We should also mention the good work started by Dave Carr of the Khanti Outreach in Concord, New Hampshire. Seven or eight years ago Dave started going to visit a handful of Buddhist inmates in Concord. I've now been going along for three years and we now have nine Mitras in that prison.

Last weekend we had a great retreat with 15 people from the Aryaloka sangha plus a similar number of inmates. Inspired by what I've seen in the last three years I've started visiting prisons in Massachusetts as well

Blogger Bodhi said...

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