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June has been a particularly turbulent month in the city of London. The violent attacks and tragic incidents the city has experienced have given us much to pause and reflect upon. It can feel as though the forces that govern our country and the wider world base their values on greed, fear, hatred and misinformation; the very poisons we try to work against in Buddhist practice. More than ever it seems critical for each and every one of us and the wider Triratna sangha to realise that our Dharma practice is a true force for good in the world and each of us must act from this knowledge in whatever ways we can. With these reflections in mind, here is what the London Buddhist Centre Transforming Self and World group have been doing for Buddhist Action Month.
We began the month with by screening ‘We, The Uncivilised’ at the London Buddhist Centre. The film tells the story of a young married couple who, disillusioned with increasing consumerism and resulting alienation in the world around them, embark on a year-long journey. Together they travelled the UK, living amongst individuals and communities who aspire to live more simply, sustainably and in deeper relationship with other people and the wider world.
The evening was intimate and well attended and afterwards, lively discussion about the film continued on into the evening. For me and others, the story inspired both hope and sadness, feelings of frustration and humility and a realisation that though the world seems broken in many ways, escape is not an option. Turning towards the challenges, seeing the good which exists and helping it to grow and understanding our deep interconnection with everyone and with our world is the way forward.
‘Material Lives’ Community Project
At the end of the month, during our usual Transforming Self and World session, we were delighted to invite Tareshvari to tell us about a successful Buddhist community outreach project she developed and led with another member of the sangha, Heather Belcher. “Material Lives” was a collaboration between Tower Hamlets College and Jambala and was funded by Globe Community Project. Using games, drama, art, storytelling and other techniques, 13 Muslim women from the local community developed language skills so they could discuss and write life stories. These stories were translated into textile artworks and exhibited in a pop up event at Whitechapel Gallery.
During the session we too undertook the exercises the women who participated did during the project and brought the women into our Metta Bhavana meditation practice. We discussed how small projects like this can counteract the forces that try to divide us and how, as Transforming Self and World and the wider LBC sangha we can play our part.
About Transforming Self and World
Though BAM is over, our work as Transforming Self and World continues throughout the year. Our monthly classes are growing in attendance and momentum, we have an exciting line up of Dharmacharis and Dharmacharini’s from all over the UK and Europe who are coming to lead our sessions and we are more and more a firm fixture on the LBC programme. Our group is discussing organising more activities beyond the monthly sessions to take our Dharma practice out into the world. These include other events at the Centre, joining demonstrations, public meditations and outreach activities with the wider east London community. It is our hope that we can continue to share the activities we are doing with you all and inspire others to do the same.
Our Upcoming Programme
Here are some of our upcoming Transforming Self and World events at the London Buddhist Centre. Hope to see you there!
Saturday 29th July, 10 - 1
Bodhisattva Ideal: Non-Abiding Nirvana and liberatory practice amidst the challenges of our times
Living as we do, at a point of significant social and ecological crisis, how can the Bodhisattva Ideal help us to build the connections, skills and resilience we need to respond effectively and creatively?
Saturday 26th August, 10 - 1
Buddhist practice and effective social activism
How are we responding (personally and collectively) to the ecological and political situation? How might we work with Buddhist practice and teachings in effective social activism?
Saturday 30th September, 10 - 1
Beyond ‘us and them’ group think
Diving ourselves up into groups and polarising with others seems to be a common human trait. What do the teachings of the Buddha have to offer us as we navigate an increasingly fragmented world?