Back to listJun 29, 2008

"British Buddhist Landscape" Conference Held at Taplow Court, UK

Participants and speakers at the British Buddhist Landscape Conference Participants and speakers at the British Buddhist Landscape Conference

Over the weekend of June 27-29, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy-United Kingdom (IOP-UK) held a conference jointly with the Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK), known as NBO, at SGI-UK's Taplow Court center, on the theme of "The British Buddhist Landscape--Transplantation and Growth." The conference was originated by IOP-UK Director Jamie Cresswell, who is current chair of NBO.

Around 60 people from different Buddhist groups attended including lay practitioners, monks, nuns and academics. They heard speakers presenting papers on Buddhism in the UK across a broad spectrum, ranging from Buddhism and ethnicity, the history of Buddhism, Buddhist chaplaincy in hospitals, interfaith activities, teaching Buddhism in schools, to talks from four practitioners on how their Buddhist traditions have been received and interpreted in the UK.

These presentations were on Nepalese Buddhism, Indian Ambedkarite Buddhism, Thai Buddhism and Nichiren Buddhism as practiced within SGI-UK, presented by Vice General Director Kazuo Fujii. The closing talk was given by Dr. John Peacock, Director of the Sharpham Centre for Buddhist Studies in Devon, UK, an academic and practitioner, on "Buddhism and Western Thought." This was a thought-provoking and stimulating paper with which to close the conference. Dr. Peacock pointed out that the way to deeply embed Buddhism in the UK is to engage with our culture and use that as the means of transmission. After all, Shakyamuni Buddha taught through his own example in ancient India the importance of thoroughly engaging with one's own time and context, in order for us to transmit Buddhism and become truly Western Buddhists.

Participants were appreciative of the warm welcome provided by SGI-UK, including the transformation of the Ikeda New Century Hall foyer into a gallery of Buddhist art. Volunteers from SGI-UK worked very hard in support of the conference.

[Based on a report from Jamie Cresswell, director of IOP-UK; photo courtesy of Dhammarati of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, UK]