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Inspired by the principles behind BAM and a growing sense that our Buddhist practice has the potential to transform the world around us, the sustainability group linked to the Dublin Buddhist Centre (known as ‘Green Dharma Dublin’) decided to participate in the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. This annual event is organised by the International Peace Bureau and takes place in mid April with the aim of raising awareness about the obscene amounts of money spent on the military each year ($1.8 trillion was spent globally in 2014) - which could be used for much more worthwhile things such as protection of the environment, resourcing better health care, and tackling poverty and hunger to name but a few. To find out more about this day of action and the Global Campaign on Military Spending see www.demilitarize.org.
Green Dharma Dublin decided to organise a street meditation outside the Dáil (Irish parliament) as part of the 2015 Global Day of Action on Military Spending not just to raise awareness about the colossal diversion of resources into warfare, but also to demonstrate that there is a more radical way to deal with conflict - a way that is simple, mindful and peaceful. The event was supported by Afri (a peace and justice NGO based in Dublin) which helped produce some banners for the street meditation. Prior to the event one of Green Dharma Dublin’s members created some leaflets about the street meditation, and the reasons for it, which a number of helpful volunteers from the Dublin Sangha then distributed throughout the city to further spread the message. While the event was organised by Green Dharma Dublin and Afri, it was open to all who wished to join in the meditation.
Happily the weather on the day was dry - and even, at times, sunny. Approximately 30 people (a large portion of these people being Sangha regulars as well as two Order Members) turned up to spend an hour meditating in a very public place! One woman came from the Westport Sangha (on the West coast of Ireland) taking a 4 hour train journey in order to take part. Quite remarkable was the respect that passerbys seemed to have for the meditators - many of them dropping their voices to a whisper as they went by. Certainly it must have been the quietest, and most genuinely peaceful, protest the Dáil has seen in a long time! There was something quite tangible about this particular meditation being dedicated for the sake of all beings, and a number of the participants reported having quite a strong experience of connection during the hour.
While not strictly a BAM event - as it happened in April - it definitely feels related. It is important that we, as Buddhists, aren’t afraid to take our practice onto the streets when necessary, to be ‘political’. Some photos from the event can be seen on Green Dharma Dublin’s facebook page here and also here.