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Back to listMar 31, 2012

Launch of Centre for Applied Buddhism at SGI-UK's Taplow Court

SpeakersFrom left: Ven. Amaranatho, Dr. Michele Lamb, Dh. Maitrisara and Director Jamie Cresswell

On March 31, the launch of the Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB) was held at SGI-UK's Taplow Court culture center. The CfAB will expand on and continue the work of the UK branch of the Institute for Oriental Philosophy, which closed in 2011. At the launch of the center, CfAB Director Jamie Cresswell explained that the center will focus on Buddhism and its application to people's lives in order to understand and develop humanity's place in the modern world. It will look into the relation to Buddhism of topics such as psychotherapy, war and peace, economics, science, the digital world, creativity, the environment, ethics, gender and sexuality.

Speakers at the opening included Ven. Amaranatho, a Theravadin monk; Dharmacharini Maitrisara from the Triratna Buddhist Order; and Dr. Michele Lamb, an SGI-UK member and principal lecturer in Human Rights at the University of Roehampton and director of the university's Crucible Centre for Human Rights.

SGI-UK's Taplow Court culture centerParticipants at SGI-UK's Taplow Court culture center

In the first of a series of short talks titled "Applying Buddhism: What Progress?" Ven. Amaranatho, who spent 10 years in a monastery, described his life supported by donations from the local community and his work with young people and families. He said "We live in very interesting times. The edges are blurring between different religions and philosophies. Society is opening up. It seems like it is clashing, but that's actually resulting in an opening up of ideas."

In her speech, Dharmacharini Maitrisara spoke about the critical issues currently facing the world and the fact that many people are at a loss as to how to deal with the consequent feelings of anger and despair. "Buddhist practice," she said, "provides a way of engaging with suffering, and transforming these negative responses, opening a way to be more creative in the face of societal suffering."

Dr. Michele Lamb analyzed the extent to which Buddhist principles have permeated society. She said that although many concepts such as the interdependence of human beings and the environment and the role of dialogue and soft power in conflict resolution are now gaining greater interest in society, they are still only being taken up superficially and selectively. 

For more information on the CfAB's work, which will include seminars and conferences, see www.appliedbuddhism.org.uk from the end of May 2012.

[Adapted from a report in April 4, 2012, issue of SGI-UK Online News Bulletin; photos courtesy of Dhammarati]