Amaravati Buddhist Monastery is my home monastery and one that I have been attending for many years. I invariably experience a sense of peacefulness as I enter the gates and a feeling of inspiration at the sight of ochre robed Theravada monks and nuns.
I had dropped in to speak with Ajahn
In actual fact, I was not aware of the charities meeting, although subsequently information did circulate through NBO channels. This is a good example of the disparate range of requests that are received by the Buddhist ‘community’ in the
Some requests do have a religious character or are looking for a Buddhist ‘voice’ and this leads to quite a few issues. There is a constant demand for Buddhist representatives to join SACRE’s – standing advisory committees for religious education in local education authorities – which I have mentioned before in this blog. Other requests that come through NBO channels might ask for a Buddhist representative at events ranging from Commonwealth Day to government sponsored faith communities consultative councils, religious leaders meetings running alongside G8 summits, (and intended to influence their deliberations), and sexual orientations equality and other legislation. The list goes on.
Many of those who gain benefit from Buddhist organisations or might regard themselves as Buddhists may feel inspired to join one or other committee or consultatative meeting; perhaps without fully appreciating what is involved. Often, a faith representative is regarded as representing, in some sense, all Buddhists. SACRE Buddhist members are expected to reflect all Buddhist persuasions in a local authority area. Exactly how such a responsibility can be discharged is a matter for debate.
Another common issue is for our naïve Buddhist representative to find himself the victim of tokenism or of an agenda which might only become apparent later and with which she or he is uncomfortable. Discretion must be exercised therefore; there is little doubt that constructive engagement is valuable but it has to work for the individual. For example, teachers or educational professionals who are also Buddhists may feel completely at home at SACRE’s and find this forum very useful.
Some rough guidelines for engagement could include clarifying :
the purpose of the group or committee
the role that a Buddhist is expected to fulfil
the benefit that arises from this activity in the broadest sense
If the benefit is limited or low then involvement should be reconsidered. Our time must be regarded as valuable.
Like many Buddhist organisations,
For details of
An associated website focusing on lay-activity is www.buddhacommunity.org