DharmaJiva project builds bridges between East and West
On Wed, 5 June, 2013 - 06:00
Viradhamma writes from North America with news of the DharmaJiva project - an exciting project looking to build bridges between American Buddhist Sanghas and the Buddhist revival in India. He says -
“I would like to let you know a bit about what is happening with the Buddhist revival in India and the work we are doing with the DharmaJiva project. Most people in Triratna are aware of how the Dharma has returned to India in the last 60 years, but this movement is largely unknown among other Buddhist groups in the West. In my trips to India I see a dynamic movement and I’ve attended public events with hundreds and sometimes even thousands and tens of thousands of people. Unfortunately, the new Indian Buddhists are very poor and they get little support or attention from people in Asia and the West.
Triratna is one of the largest and most important Buddhist groups working in India today, with dozens of centers, social projects and retreat centers. It plays a very special role by supporting Dr. Ambedkar’s original vision of social transformation based on Dharmic principles.
The Buddhist revival faces huge challenges, but it has the potential to show that Buddhist ideas and values can change society as well as individuals. If it can reduce and eliminate a deeply-ingrained system like caste oppression it will provide an inspiring example for Buddhists around the world. Through the DharmaJiva project we are working to raise awareness of what is happening in India. In particular, we are trying to connect with other Buddhist sanghas and encourage Buddhists from all traditions to visit India and see for themselves what is happening. The Order Members I know in India say that it is very important for people from the West to come and experience the Buddhist revival first-hand. In the past two years we have taken two groups with a total of twenty-two people to see the meditation centers, social projects and community centers run by Triratna in central and north India. Participants had an opportunity to meet with Sangha members and learn about the reality of their daily life, the Indian social system and the challenges of reviving Buddhist practice. They also visited places where the Buddha lived and taught including Sarnath and Bodh Gaya. Although India can be a difficult place to travel, everyone who has participated in these groups has been deeply inspired by the experience. We are currently planning a two-week trip in October, and a three-week trip in February 2014. Of course not everyone can travel to India, but there’s other ways to participate:
First, many of the people who participate in our pilgrimages learn about them through word-of-mouth. If you know people or groups who might be interested in visiting India please let them know about our upcoming tours. Mentioning the trips on blog posts or in Facebook and other social media has been very effective.
Second, we are very interested in meeting representatives of Buddhist sanghas in North America and giving public talks. If you have friends or contacts in other Buddhist groups it would be very helpful to us in our work. It turns out that having a personal introduction is very helpful in “getting in the door.” Contacts would be especially useful in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Boston and New England. Third, please take a moment to look at our website (www.DharmaJiva.org) and the website for Nagaloka (www.Nagaloka.org.) These sites provide a good overview of the Indian Buddhist revival and the Triratna training center at Nagaloka.
If you have any questions or ideas please feel free to contact me. Thank you very much for your help. With Metta, Viradhamma (www.DharmaJiva.org)