On 18-19 June 2011, the committee ?Buddhism and Society? of the European Buddhist Union organised an informal networking weekend, hosted by the
The purpose of the brainstorming weekend was
– to share ideas on how Buddhism can contribute to a better world
– to evaluate the links between Buddhist practice and social engagement
– to encourage communication and support among existing Buddhist initiatives worldwide
Over 2600 years ago, Siddhartha Gautama rejected all forms of social discrimination and institutionalized inequalities. Buddhism teaches that everyone, regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political ideology, nationality, social origins, property, birth status or other distinctions, has the potential to become enlightened. The global financial crisis reminds us that social and economic structures are fashioned by human minds, which also implies that they can be reconstructed.
No-self, impermanence and interconnectedness are inspirational core teachings that help us (with meditation and other contemplative practices) to identify suffering and the causes of suffering, and to act compassionately, with awareness of our own motivations.
Becoming aware of the suffering due to abuse, injury, poverty, illness, imprisonment, oppression and war continues to be a source of action for many Buddhists. Many types of initiatives have been developed in different parts of the world.
The participants at the meeting in Cadzand came to the following conclusions:
1. Many socially engaged projects by Buddhists are not well known within the broader Buddhist community. The participants identified a strong need to share ideas and methods. It would therefore be useful to set up a directory and network, a sort of World Forum for Socially Engaged Buddhism, to facilitate global communication and cooperation. The participants intend to support informal networks via mailing groups and the construction of a website where existing initiatives, ideas and literature are easily accessible.
2. As a first step it would be useful to organize a European symposium on Socially Engaged Buddhism in the near future (Summer 2013). This will be the third in a series of major conferences on the topic, following a symposium on engaged Buddhism in the
3. Finally, we participants at the networking weekend in Cadzand invite all Buddhist organizations to reflect on existing or potential initiatives within their own communities. National Buddhist Unions in
4. We also welcome the various kinds of support you might be able to offer: sharing ideas, informing us about socially engaged projects, promoting such projects, administrative support, help with the construction and maintenance of a website, links to existing websites and social networking communities, etc.
May you who read this letter be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May everyone you meet be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
Cadzand, 19th June 2011
v Somboon Chungprampree
Executive Secretary at the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
Dana Sangha / Board Member Zen Sangha Belgium
v Paula de Wijs-Koolkin
Board of Directors, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
v Bernie Glassman + Ari Pliskin (assistant)
Founder of the Zen Peacemakers
v Frans Goetghebeur
President of the European Buddhist
v Professor David Loy
Representing the ?Buddhist Peace Fellowship?, Berkely ?
v Harsha Navaratne
Chairman of the Sewalanka
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the INEB
Programme manager Karuna Trust, UK
Member Triratna Buddhist
v Geoffrey Pleyers PhD
FNRS Researcher U.C.Louvain (Belgium)
Chercheur au CADIS (EHESS-Paris)
v Venerable Sithonh Xayavongsone
Director Laos Buddhism for Development
v Frank Uyttebroeck
Representing the ?Against the stream Buddhist Meditation Society?,
v Vajrapushpa (Ulla Brown)
Chair Karuna Trust, UK
Member Triratna Buddhist
v Mr. Zoltan Valcsicsak
Business advisor involved in Buddhist economics with recent enterprise development experience in Bhutan / Founder of Friends of Bhutan in Hungary
General Practitioner involved in Human Rights and Buddhist inspired bio-ethics
v Dr. Eil?s Ward
Coordinator 2BA Programme, Department of Political Science and Sociology
v Professor Laszlo Zsolnai