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One of the biggest difficulties one has to face into when one wants to change the world – whether this is helping to bring about world peace, tackling climate change, ending famine, overthrowing an unjust system – is the fact that it is impossible to do on your own. Think of Avalokitesvara, prior to the intervention of Amitabha: he fell into despair at the realisation of how little a difference he could make as just one being on his own.
I feel lucky then, as a Buddhist, that the message at the very heart of the Dharma is that of pratitya-samutpada, conditioned co-production, which basically declares the reality that things arise, and cease, in dependence on conditions. This is helpful when you are embarking on a project to help bring about change: firstly, you can’t do it all – you can only ever be one condition amongst many; but secondly, and importantly (in case you were about to give up in defeat), you can be a condition that helps change things. Even more than that, you can be a condition that joins up with other conditions (i.e. other people) to affect change. BAM, for me, has been a triumph of conditioned co-production in (collective) action.
2015 was the first year that the Dublin Sangha got involved in BAM. To say it was enthusiastically embraced at the Dublin Buddhist Centre would be no lie. Pretty much all of June was ‘BAM’-ed… from the film night, to the Practice Morning to the Young Buddhist Group and to the June bank holiday retreat…nothing was immune from BAM’s influence! From the Centre team, to the Sustainability team and to entire Sangha, a spirit of curiosity and willingness to engage arose. This could be seen by the buzz after certain events – for example, after watching Cowspiracy, an energetic discussion about veganism occurred over cups of tea. This spirit could also be seen in the generosity of people who led the events, giving of their time and expertise with gusto. It was also obvious, as the month went on, on our ‘action board’ (see photo) where people continued to write up personal commitments that they were taking as part of BAM. I am also personally grateful to our sustainability team – Clodagh, Adam and Donal – who gave of their time and energy to host events, introduce events, make announcements about BAM, and write up reports afterwards.
Our last BAM event was a practice morning, led by Maitrikaya, who ensured there was a number of appropriate readings and led a ‘transference of merits’ ritual at the end so we could dedicate all the merits from the month for the sake of all beings. It felt like an appropriate way of bringing the 2015 BAM to a close.
But I don’t see it all ending there. BAM has provided us an opportunity to start conversations about big issues such as climate change – there’s more work to be done, but best of all: a Sangha with which to do it!