Welcome

Welcome to the Buddhist Council of Wales site. Here you will find details of events, information and news relating to the organisations which are members of the Council and also to other Buddhist organisations – a resource for all Buddhists in Wales.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Interfaith Week, meeting Bhante Bhodidhamma, Prison Chaplaincy, School Events – newsletter

November is a particularly busy month for the Buddhist Council of Wales because it includes Interfaith Week.  Since those reported in the first newsletter the following events were attended by a Buddhist Council of Wales representative:

28th October – an informal meeting with Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government
31st October Faith Communities Forum meeting with the First Minister
7th November meeting with Dawn Tilt, Co-ordinating Chaplain at Parc Prison, Bridgend, Wales *
8th November When Religion Makes the News, a day’s workshop organised by NUJ Training Wales
10th November Buddhist Council of Wales meeting
13th November Remembrance Sunday Service at the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff
15th November InterFaith Council for Wales event for Interfaith Week at Cardiff United Synagogue
17th November South Cardiff Interfaith Network Interfaith Week event
18th November Cardiff Muslim School assembly, with Christian and Jewish faith representatives
22nd November InterFaith Council for Wales meeting; Ngakma Nor’dzin, Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales, was elected as Vice Chair for the IFCW
27th November Memorial Service for families who have suffered the death of a baby
28th November – Ngakma Nor’dzin had an informal meeting with Bhante Bodhidhamma of Satipanya. Satipanya are hoping to appoint a representative to attend the meetings of the Buddhist Council of Wales and so become Full Members
8th December VIth Form Conference at Monmouth Comprehensive School
Bhante Bodhidhamma and Ngakma Nor'dzin at Aro Ling Cardiff

Events to which a representative of the Buddhist Council of Wales were invited, but no representative was available to attend:

October 28th Diwali, Festival of Lights celebration organised by the Minority Ethnic Staff Network (MESN) in Welsh Government
6th November Lord Mayor’s Civic Service for Remembrance
24th November ‘Wales A Multicultural Nation’ event organised by the Cardiff Ecumenical Chaplaincy
26 November Interfaith Peace Symposium organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association
30th November – Launch of Wales Humanists at the Senedd
8th December ‘Does Wales need more Female Role Models’ event organised by Action for Children

There is also an event in July 2017 for which we do not have a representative to attend at the moment Peace Mala Inter-faith Liturgy for World Peace at Llandaf Cathedral, Cardiff Thursday 20th July. Could someone from one of our Member Organisations attend this? Please contact the Buddhist Council of Wales at buddhistcouncilwales(at)gmail.com if you can help.

* Following on from the meeting about Prison Chaplaincy, the Buddhist Council of Wales has been informed by Ven Canon Michael Kavanagh of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), that all Buddhist chaplaincy in the UK, including Wales, is managed by Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Service. The Buddhist Council of Wales has written to Angulimala with a view to opening a dialogue with them.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Welcome to The Tibetan Yungdrung Bön as an Associate Member

Lama Khemsar Rinpoche

The Buddhist Council of Wales is delighted to welcome The Tibetan Yungdrung Bön as an Associate Member. 


Here are a few extracts from their website:

The Buddha taught Yungdrung Bön Buddhism comprising of Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen in Shambala and Zhang Zhung more than 18,000 years ago. Eventually his teachings were imported into Tibet and are the original spiritual tradition of Tibet and the Tibetan people.



“Human Life, no matter how successful, famous, rich, and powerful one may think one is, it is completely incomplete without taking a proper spiritual path. All the external visible objects and internal thoughts and emotions are like soap bubbles which are subject to burst and keep on bursting! Yet, ignorantly, one is so much attached to all of these visions and therefore one suffers endlessly. Taking tranquilizer pills is not the answer, but to learn to detach from attachment is the supreme and lasting tranquilizer as Buddha Tonpa Shenrab and his successors have taught!”
— Lama Phuntsog Khemsar Rinpoche

PRAYER
May all the sentient beings that are
encompassed by the SKY be enriched with
happiness and the cause of happiness!
May all the sentient beings be parted from
suffering and the causes of suffering!
May the minds of all sentient beings abide
in the state of equipoise, in which there
exists neither happiness nor unhappiness!
May all sentient beings never be
separated from the happiness of the
Eternal state of the Mind!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Faith Community Forum meeting


Faith Communities Forum Meeting


31 October 2016

Ngakma Nor’dzin attended representing the Buddhist Council of Wales.

Matters arising from the minutes: 

Question of unrepresented Faiths this is an ongoing discussion within the Interfaith Council – will report later

Agenda Item 1: Free movement of people post EU Referendum

Carwyn Jones mentioned 6 principles – 2 of which are that EU citizens can remain; and that we will resist bigotry, racism, the open expression of racist view

Agenda Item 2: Human Rights Act – Discussion


The Human Rights Act is being replaced by a Bill of Rights –
however, as the Human Rights Act came from EU, the Bill of Rights has been parked for now

Agenda Item 3: Hate Crime Statistics - Paul Dear, Head of Equality Team

Paul Dear reported a 72% increase in hate crime reportings post Brexit
it is known that more than half of crimes go unreported
5 characteristics – increase in 4 out of 5
73%   relate to race                             now a 4% increase
15%   relate to sexual orientation      now a 6% increase
5%     relate to religion                        now a  42% increase
10%   relate to disability                     now a 21% increase
1%     relate to trans-gender               now an 8% decrease

Agenda Item 4: Anti-Slavery Wales Presentation and Q&A

Steve Chapman, Welsh Government Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator


This is the only anti-slavery organisation in the UK
awareness of slavery in Wales now
have a modern anti-slavery act in Wales now

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Faith and Cohesive Communities ─ Diversity and Commonality ─ Interfaith Network UK

Ngakma Nor’dzin, Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales, was invited to present at one of the workshops of the Interfaith Network UK National Meeting. The theme of the Meeting was ‘Faith and Cohesive Communities’. She was in a workshop entitled ‘Diversity and Commonality’ with Fazal Rahim of the Oldham Inter Faith Forum. The National Meeting took place in Peterborough, on the 19th October.


Below are the notes to her presentation.

‘I have been Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales since 2011, and as such am
invited to attend a variety of interfaith events.

As a religion, Buddhism is both a little awkward to accommodate in interfaith
interaction, and also offers an unusual opportunity to encourage the spirit of
interfaith openness and tolerance. In Buddhism there is no holy book to which
all Buddhists will refer; there are no teachings that refer to a creator god, or
an all-powerful, beneficent god; and even the word ‘faith’—which seems to be
commonly preferred to the word ‘religion’ —is slightly problematic in Buddhism
because faith is not demanded. The emphasis is on practice. Shakyamuni—the
historic Buddha—asked his followers to practice and find out for themselves,
rather than simply because of their devotion to him.

So . . . no book, no god, and no faith – and yet Buddhism is most certainly a
religion. I have to regard ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ as synonyms, else it make no
sense for me to be present at interfaith events.

There can be a tendency at Interfaith events to wish to find commonalities as a
reason for different faiths coming together. I regular attend events where
someone—of any faith—will say;
‘Well, we all believe in the same god, don’t we’.
This is meant as a friendly, open and inclusive assertion, but it is actually
rather disrespectful – and indicates a lack of knowledge of at least one of the
religions represented in their audience. I usually keep my head down. It would
be rude to challenge them. It would be appreciated if presenters would avoid
generalisations, or claims of knowing anything about the beliefs of the people
they are addressing. No person of religion can ever fully know or understand the
faith and practice of another religion.

Another time I was told that
‘We are all sinners.’ When I replied, ‘I'm not!’,
the gentleman repeated his statement with more emphasis. I again replied,
‘I’m
not!’ He looked rather exasperated at this point, and I was finding myself
rather too strongly reminded of a Monty Python sketch—which seemed potentially
disrespectful—so I explained:
‘Buddhism states that we are all beginninlessly
enlightened. It does not include any teaching that correlates with the concept
of ‘original sin’.

There are commonalities that can be found, but these are not generally in the
religion itself – they are more about the limitations and expectations a person
of religion places upon themselves, such as:
  • living within the parameters of your faith 
  • being willing to allow something to be bigger than you are; to allow the needs or precepts of your religion to take precedence in your life 
  • the wish to change, to be greater than you are, and/or to achieve a state of grace, enlightenment, or whatever is the aspiration of that religion 
  • believing in the potential of your religion to bring out the best in human beings 
  • to care about others; to regard compassion and kindness as an important aspect of being a human being
Involvement in Interfaith should not demand compromise of the representatives of
religion or faith. Friendly Interfaith interaction should not require such a
compromise, or any sense of a dilution of the tenets of the religions
represented. Interfaith must applaud and support each religion’s right to be
different – to be practised in different ways, and to hold widely different
beliefs and views.

Yet seeking commonality seems to be pervasive. Seeking and finding what is the
same in the world religions, however, is not a guaranteed road to harmony –
there is a danger that choosing this route will lead to too much that cannot be
said for fear of upsetting the balance. There is the danger of feeling the need
to carefully steer a rather narrow path. I feel that the broader path of
openness, respect, and appreciation of difference is preferable, though not
always easy. I recognise that I do sometimes avoid being clear that Buddhism is
an atheistic, or non-theistic religion, because I know that for people I care
about, who believe in a creator god, this is not easy to hear or understand.

Knowing that our faiths or religions are different—possibly radically
different—yet finding that we are people of kind heart; discovering that
interfaith colleagues also cultivate patience and openness; recognising
interfaith friends can like one another and enjoy each other’s company – this is
the opportunity offered by Interfaith interaction.

Friendly and respectful interaction, and intermixing of people of different
religions—or of no religion—can ripple out into the community. When there is no
fear of difference, then there is nothing to hate. Interfaith harmony and
respect can help to create a society that is tolerant. Respect for difference,
appreciation of difference, the enjoyment of difference – this is the value of
interfaith interaction. Let us celebrate that our freedom to be different is the
key to a healthy society.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Interfaith Network UK, National Meeting - Cohesive Communities: Diversity and Commonality


Cohesive Communities
Diversity and Commonality

Presented by Nor’dzin Pamo – Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales at the Interfaith Network UK National Meeting on the 19th October 2016, in Peterborough.

I have been Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales since 2011, and as such am invited to attend a variety of interfaith events.
As a religion, Buddhism is both a little awkward to accommodate in interfaith interaction, and also offers an unusual opportunity to encourage the spirit of interfaith openness and tolerance. In Buddhism there is no holy book to which all Buddhists will refer; there are no teachings that refer to a creator god, or an all-powerful, beneficent god; and even the word ‘faith’—which seems to be commonly preferred to the word religion is slightly problematic in Buddhism because faith is not demanded. The emphasis is on practice. Shakyamuni—the historic Buddha—asked his followers to practice and find out for themselves, rather than simply because of their devotion to him.
So . . . no book, no god, and no faith – and yet Buddhism is most certainly a religion. I have to regard ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ as synonyms, else it make no sense for me to be present at interfaith events.

There can be a tendency at Interfaith events to wish to find commonalities as a reason for different faiths coming together. I regular attend events where someone—of any faith—will say; ‘Well, we all believe in the same god, don’t we’. This is meant as a friendly, open and inclusive assertion, but it is actually rather disrespectful – and indicates a lack of knowledge of at least one of the religions represented in their audience. I usually keep my head down. It would be rude to challenge them. It would be appreciated if presenters would avoid generalisations, or claims of knowing anything about the beliefs of the people they are addressing. No person of religion can ever fully know or understand the faith and practice of another religion.

Another time I was told that ‘We are all sinners.’ When I replied, ‘I'm not!’, the gentleman repeated his statement with more emphasis. I again replied, ‘I’m not!’ He looked rather exasperated at this point, and I was finding myself rather too strongly reminded of a Monty Python sketch—which seemed potentially disrespectful—so I explained: Buddhism states that we are all beginninlessly enlightened. It does not include any teaching that correlates with the concept of ‘original sin.

There are commonalities that can be found, but these are not generally in the religion itself – they are more about the limitations and expectations a person of religion places upon themselves, such as:
  • living within parameters of your faith
  • being willing to allow something to be bigger than you are; to allow the needs or precepts of your religion to take precedence in your life
  • the wish to change, to be greater than you are, and/or to achieve a state of grace, enlightenment, or whatever is the aspiration of that religion
  • believing in the potential of your religion to bring out the best in human beings
  • to care about others; to regard compassion and kindness as an important aspect of being a human being
Involvement in Interfaith should not demand compromise of the representatives of religion or faith. Friendly Interfaith interaction should not require such a compromise, or any sense of a dilution of the tenets of the religions represented. Interfaith must applaud and support each religion’s right to be different – to be practised in different ways, and to hold widely different beliefs and views.

Yet seeking commonality seems to be pervasive. Seeking and finding what is the same in the world religions, however, is not a guaranteed road to harmony – there is a danger that choosing this route will lead to too much that cannot be said for fear of upsetting the balance. There is the danger of feeling the need to carefully steer a rather narrow path. I feel that the broader path of openness, respect, and appreciation of difference is preferable, though not always easy. I recognise that I do sometimes avoid being clear that Buddhism is an atheistic, or non-theistic religion, because I know that for people I care about, who believe in a creator god, this is not easy to hear or understand.
Knowing that our faiths or religions are different—possibly radically different—yet finding that we are people of kind heart; discovering that interfaith colleagues also cultivate patience and openness; recognising interfaith friends can like one another and enjoy each others company – this is the opportunity offered by Interfaith interaction.
Friendly and respectful interaction, and intermixing of people of different religions—or of no religion—can ripple out into the community. When there is no fear of difference, then there is nothing to hate. Interfaith harmony and respect can help to create a society that is tolerant. Respect for difference, appreciation of difference, the enjoyment of difference – this is the value of interfaith interaction. Let us celebrate that our freedom to be different is the key to a healthy society.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Buddhist Council of Wales working for Buddhists in Wales

Welcome to the first Buddhist Council of Wales newsletter. Here we will give you an idea of the work that the Buddhist Council of Wales (BCW) undertakes to represent Buddhists in Wales.
With eleven member organisations, membership is healthy, but the BCW urgently needs more Full Members - organisations willing to send a representative to its twice-yearly meetings and to represent the BCW at events. Currently the Chair of the BCW, Nor’dzin Pamo, often accompanied by her husband, attends as many events as possible, but is not able to attend them all.
Things are usually pretty quiet over the summer, but as soon as autumn started to hint its arrival, requests for Buddhist representation started to flow in.
Events attended by BCW representatives on behalf of Buddhists in Wales:
  • October 7th - Cardiff and the Vale Health Board Spiritual Care Group 
  • October 17th - Muslim Council of Wales Annual Interfaith Dinner
  • October 19th - Interfaith Network UK National Meeting
The Cardiff and Vale Health Board Spiritual Care Group aim to support the spiritual and religious needs of staff and patients. The Group is led by the Chaplaincy Department of the University Hospital Wales. The BCW involvement in this group means that we aim to respond to any requests from Buddhists, such as the need for a funeral or a blessing. The BCW also checks that the Buddhist section of the ward plan meets the needs of Buddhist patients.
Nor’dzin Pamo presented at one of the workshops of the National Meeting of the Interfaith Network UK, in Peterborough. The theme of the meeting was ‘Cohesive Communities’, and Nor’dzin presented in the workshop looking at ‘Diversity and Commonality’. The notes for her talk will be posted separately.

Invitations received by the BCW but not attended:
  • September 14th - Royal Naval Reserves, HMS CAMBRIA, Barry, South Wales - Employer Engagement Event - ‘...we would be delighted if members of the Buddhist Council for Wales were able to attend... The event aims to highlight the work of Reservists and develop closer links between the military, civilian and religious organisations and employers. 
  • October 6th - Science Café event - invitation from The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Cllr Monica Walsh and the Lord Mayors Charity Cancer Research Wales
  • invitation for a representative at the Cardiff SACRE - could you help with this?
Other work by the BCW on behalf of Buddhists in Wales:
  • responded to the draft report from Gill Vaisey, Religious Education Consultant, on ‘Guidance on Managing the Right of Withdrawal from Religious Education’ - the least of festivals that parents may withdraw their children from school to attend will be posted separately. The BCW has ensured that Buddhist festivals are included in this list.
Looking ahead, there are a number of interfaith events for interfaith week, plus various meetings and events. If you would like to help with the work of the BCW, please get in touch by email: buddhistcouncilwales@gmail.com.