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A Short History of BAM
BAM is the UK’s Buddhist Action Month - a festival of Buddhist social action held across Britain every June. Conceived by the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK (NBO) (www.nbo.org.uk), it keeps expanding.
It all started with …
A Year of Service and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2012
As part of national celebrations marking the Diamond Jubilee, 2012 saw Buddhists taking part in the year-long national UK inter-faith project, ‘A Year of Service’ (AYOS) in which faith groups organised a range of activities benefiting others. The inspiration for AYOS came from the annual Jewish event, Mitzvah Day.
Throughout the year each faith community adopted a period and a theme for their activities. The NBO chose 3rd July as Buddhist Action Day (BAD), close to the festival of Asalha Puja or Dharma/Dhamma Day, and suggested Buddhists nationwide ran events with the environmental theme: ’Earthkind’. Around 16 Buddhist events took place up and down the country.
Initially only Triratna Centres in the UK took part; In 2015 Triratna Buddhist Centres across Europe participated, in 2016 Triratna Centres in Australia and the United States, and there is no reason why it can’t keep expanding further! Especially in India Triratna is involved in a large number of very successful social projects and reaching out to others is evident in all they do, so it would be interesting to hear more about what happens on that subcontinent this year.
BAM invites us to make more conscious the connections between our ethical commitment as Buddhists and the needs of other beings – human and otherwise, our society and our environment; and it offers us the opportunity to explicitly explore and discuss the ethical issues facing Buddhists in the 21st century.
The essence of BAM is to encourage individual Buddhists and Buddhist Centres to take any action they wish that benefit the environment, other people, our local communities or society.
Buddhist Centres of course exist for the benefit of others and to reduce suffering through teaching and sharing the dharma – but this month the invitation is to reach out to those needing help in other ways, which we may not focus on at other times of the year. We can also take the opportunity to reflect on the ethical issues that that arise of living in a world that is dominated by individualism, materialism and consumer values.
The Development Team has been offering suggested actions across three broad areas – Sustainability and Climate Change, Generosity and Awakening Money, and Caring for Others. This stays the same for 2017, and in addition there will be some special suggestions, which will be posted shortly and be available before the end of March 2017.