Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Engaged Buddhism in the FWBO

Indra's Net, magazine of the Network of Engaged BuddhistsThe Network of Engaged Buddhists (NEB) is the UK’s main forum for what has become known as ‘Engaged Buddhism’. For them, Engaged Buddhism is “engagement in caring and service, in social and environmental protest and analysis, in non-violence as a creative way of overcoming conflicts, and in 'right livelihood' and other initiatives which prefigure a society of the future”.

They go on to say “It also engages with a variety of contemporary and often controversial concerns of relevance to an evolving Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism combines the cultivation of inner peace with active social compassion in a mutually supportive and enriching practice”.

Indra's Net, their magazine (available both in paper and on the web), has in recent issues carried quite a number of articles by members of the F/WBO.

You can read Saul Deeson and Suddhaka on the Dhamma Revolunion in India; Rowan Tilly on Spiritual Activism; Sophia Young (now ordained as Kuladharini) on Gie’s Peace – a lively introduction to Glasgow’s ‘Shambolic Warriors’. The LBC's ground-breaking Breathing Space project is profiled in Health and Wellbeing for All; and there’s an excellent introduction to the significance of Dr. Ambedkar for engaged Buddhists (indeed, for all Buddhists) in Jai Bhim, by Khemasuri.

There’s other articles too, but not yet on the internet – for them you’ll have to join NEB - which is a bargain at £10/year - or £8 for concessions!

In the FWBO itself, besides Gie’s Peace, there’s other ‘engaged Buddhism’ projects, some connected to ‘The Redwoods’. These are an ad-hoc group of Order Members with a shared commitment to engaged Buddhism and social change, who meet once a year, for a week, in a retreat setting, with no agenda other than waiting to see what emerges.

Strongly linked to the Redwoods is the FWBO’s new ‘EcoDharma’ retreat centre , situated in a beautiful and wild part of the Catalan Pyrenees. Guhyapati, it’s founder, says “We offer courses, events and retreats which support the realisation of our human potential and the development of an ecological consciousness honouring our mutual belonging within the web of life – drawing on the Buddhist Dharma and the emerging ecological paradigms of our time

“Our courses and retreats take place in a context of sustainable low-impact living, closely woven within the web of elemental nature. These meditation retreats, study seminars and training camps are intended to help people to empower themselves to make changes in themselves and the world consistent with a life-affirming vision”.

Ecodharma has two retreats coming up later this year – ‘Evolution, Ecology, and Enlightenment’ in November, and ‘Exploring EcoDharma’ in December.

EcoDharma is probably the FWBO’s most remote retreat centre and you’ll have to be determined if you want to find your way there…

By chance FWBO News came across Jo Magpie’s blog ‘A Long Way From Eden’, where she describes hitch-hiking there all the way from London. She concludes -

“G (Guhyapati) arrives and greets me like an old friend, although we only met once before for a brief ten minute chat at the Buddhafield Festival. He has exactly the white landrover I imagined he would. I get in and we wind our way up an ever remoter road that turns into a track at steeper and steeper angles. G tells me a little about the centre and points out landscape features as we pass. He also tells me who else is on the retreat and it turns out I know one of them - he will be surprised to see me! There are only 8 of us, but another 3 will arrive over the next few days. My sense of excitement is growing...”

There are also some other posts about Ecodharma here: and here:

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