Munisha reports from the European Buddhist Union meeting
On Fri, 25 October, 2013 - 17:45
Nearly 40 Buddhists from all over Europe met for the annual weekend meeting of the European Buddhist Union at the end of September. (New website in progress.)
Membership of the EBU is open to national umbrella groups and to individual Buddhist groups. Delegates from a range of traditions (but currently weighted towards the Mahayana and Vajrayana) included gypsy Buddhists from Hungary’s Jai Bhim Network, a Sri Lankan from Norway, a Polish lama and a Croatian teacher of Cha’n; not to mention people from Britain and western Europe. Triratna has been represented there for a number of years by Dhammarati, now handing on to Munisha.
In the spectacular setting of L’Institut Karma Ling, a Karma Kagyu retreat centre housed in a former Carthusian monastery in the foothills of the French Alps, we had plenty of time for informal small-group discussion of issues of common importance, as well as plenary consideration of constitutional matters and the future of the EBU itself. The language of business is English.
Common to all are topics such as ageing sanghas (how to meet the needs of younger people), limited financial resources, dealing with controversy and dissent; questions of authority and decision-making; and how authority is handed on from a leader or founder to his successor.
Then there are the ways in which we are strikingly different. In some European countries, it makes a huge financial difference to Buddhist groups to establish Buddhism officially as a religion - or not. Eastern European Buddhists struggle to be recognised at all; the Belgian Buddhist Union is financially relieved to have had Buddhism classified as not a religion; in Norway, since the government gives money to national religious umbrella bodies - and the more members, the more money - it definitely pays to portray Buddhism as a religion!
Apart from bringing together a large group of Buddhists in deepening friendship across traditions and national boundaries, one of the EBU’s main achievements is in having excellent representation in European institutions such as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and ENORB, the European Network on Religion and Belief.