This summer Ecodharma will be joining forces with Gaia House teacher Rob Burbea and Freely Given Retreats to offer a new training in the UK. Action from Depth is a shorter remix of the Engaged Buddhist Training that Ecodharma have been developing since 2010. The UK version will be co-designed by Rob and Ecodharma’s Guhyapati, with a strong emphasis on ecological activism just ahead of the United Nations Climate talks, the COP21, in Paris.
“The first time Rob and I met was on the main concourse of the central train station in Copenhagen on the morning of mass protests against the political intransigence surrounding the UN climate talks. That was 2009 and it was the COP15,” explains Guhyapati. “It feels fitting that we have managed to find this opportunity to work together now in the lead up to COP21.” Guhyapati and Rob Burbea are both part of a third generation of younger western Buddhist teachers looking to radicalise Buddhist teaching in a way that gives it a cutting edge in the face of the social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. Both have pointed critically towards the dangers of a western Buddhist practice that overly focuses on personal wellbeing while remaining aloof or distant to ecological and social conditions.
“There are not so many contemporary Buddhist teachers who are really tackling these issues head on,” suggests Guhyapati. “There are plenty of tokenistic references, but unless we find a way to combine deep dharma with meaningful action there is likely to be a time when that tokenism flips over into blind panic!” Both Rob and Guhyapati are well-grounded in their respective traditions, Insight Meditation and the Triratna Buddhist Order, but equally feel the importance of building bridges across traditions and schools in the creation of socially and ecologically engaged Buddhism. They are hoping this will be the start of a longer working relationship.