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From August 16-18, SGI-UK hosted a conference titled "Transforming conflict: Buddhist inspired ideas for personal and social change" at its Taplow Court center outside London.
The conference was co-organized by the Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB), the Network of Buddhist Organisations (NBO), and the Network of Engaged Buddhists (NEB) in the UK. Some 100 people including scholars and people from different faith traditions including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and Quakers attended the conference, which consisted of talks, workshops and panel discussions.
During the conference, participants from various faith perspectives commented on the application of Buddhist frameworks and concepts in the transformation of conflict.
On August 16, Jamie Cresswell, CfAB director, opened the conference, and Dr. Mark Owen from the University of Winchester's Centre of Religions for Reconciliation and Peace also spoke. Drawing on several case studies, Dr. Owen explored the perception of Buddhism as being "too other-worldly" to positively contribute to the reality of conflict transformation and peacebuilding today.
Other speakers during the three-day event included Ken Jones from NEB, Dr. Michele Lamb, principal lecturer in human rights at the University of Roehamption, research student Carina Pichler from the University of Vienna, and Marina Cantacuzino, an SGI-UK member, describing her experience as founder and director of The Forgiveness Project. Topics covered ranged from Buddhist perspectives on human rights, responses to suffering and peacebuilding to prejudice, personal transformation and forgiveness.
There were nine workshops during the conference. Reverend Andrew Corsie, of St Mary with St Nicholas Church in Perivale, London Borough of Ealing, and Dr. Justine Huxley, program director at St. Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace ran a workshop titled "The Evolutionary Potential of Conflict." They highlighted that conflict is a reflection of the problems in society and those of humanity as a whole, and that viewing it in this way opens up its potential as an opportunity to positively transform both our relationships with each other and society.
In her workshop titled "Exploring Difference: Other-centered Communication," Caroline Brazier from the Tariki Trust posited that having an "other-centered" approach can enrich our relationships and loosen attachment to our own habits of perception and behavior. Among others, workshops were also facilitated by Jnanasiddhi from the West Midlands Quaker Peace Education Project and Modgala Duguid from the Amida Trust.
The theme of the conference was also depicted in an art exhibition.
[Adapted from an article in the August 21, 2013, SGI-UK Online News Bulletin and the Transforming Conflict blog; photo courtesy of SGI-UK]
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