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.

Monday 21 November 2011

Many Paths up the Mountain

Many Paths up the Mountain:
Wisdom Tales from the Buddhist Tradition
by Steve Killick and Mark Rivett

A Special Performance
On Sunday 4th December 2011

2.30 - 4.30 pm

At the Cardiff Buddhist Centre
Few Western followers of Buddhism know that stories were at the heart of Buddhism from its founding. When the first Buddhist Council met just after the Buddha’s Parinirvana, three collections of sutras were recognized as genuine teachings. Of these one consists of stories about the Buddha’s past lives: the Jataka Tales. There are 547 of these and they are said to have been spoken by the Buddha himself.

In this performance, Steve and Mark will tell a variety of stories that will span the Buddhist traditions including a number of Jataka tales and some of the paradoxical Zen stories. The performance will be an opportunity for Buddhists to learn about a less well-known aspect of their tradition and for non-Buddhists to learn about the wealth of teaching tales that have been at the heart of the religion since its founding 2500 years ago.

There is no charge for the performance but donations (Dana) towards the Buddhist Centre are welcome.

Steve Killick and Mark Rivett are storytellers and writers. They have worked together on several shows including 'The King and Corpse' and ‘Oedipus’. As well as performing they run workshops on using myths and stories in health and therapeutic contexts.

Steve is a clinical psychologist and Mark a family psychotherapist. Both stories and Buddhism have a central role in their lives and work.

Cardiff Buddhist Centre is located at
12 St Peter's Street Roath Cardiff CF24 3BA,
for a map see  

 ‘Steve and Mark effortlessly spun the tales with no apparent ego but clear and concise telling.'

– Storylines, 2010.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

The Holocaust Memorial Day

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust are holding free Holocaust Memorial Day 2012 Workshops in Wales.  There will be a Cardiff workshop on Monday 26 September and a Wrexham Workshop on Wednesday 02 November.  If you would like to book a place on the Workshop you can email the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust at enquiries@hmd.org.uk or call our office on 0845 838 1883.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year in the UK on 27 January and commemorates the millions who have been murdered in the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.  Many inter-faith groups have in the past used Holocaust Memorial Day to raise contemporary issues regarding human rights and equality and the importance of learning the lessons of the past to create a safer, better future. 

As well as highlighting the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, faith and inter-faith groups have also drawn on the persecution and murder of Gypsies, Gay men, disabled groups and many others by the Nazis, as well as subsequent genocides.

On the 26 September or on 02 November you’ll have a chance to hear more about the 2012 theme Speak Up Speak Out, receive training in activity organising, and meet others who are also planning to mark HMD within your area.  The Cardiff workshop is being held at Race Equality First, Friary Centre, Grey Friars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3FA between 1.30pm to 4.30pm, and the Wrexham workshop will take place at Wrexham Arts Centre, Rhosddu Road, Wrexham, LL11 1AU with the same running times.  We will be providing refreshments. 
If you are unable to attend the workshop, we will still be delighted to help you mark HMD 2012 and we have a wide selection of free resources to help you mark 27 January.
Speak Up, Speak Out - HMD 2012
‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
PO Box 61074
London SE1P 5BX

t. 0207 735 7028
m. 07950 672878

Charity no. 1109348

Monday 11 July 2011

Visit from Assembly Government

On 7th July Andrea Adams, Secretary of the Welsh Government Faith Communities Forum, and her associate Jo Glenn, visited Ngakma Nor'dzin, the Chairperson of the Buddhist Council of Wales.  Andrea Adams is visiting representatives of all the faiths who send representatives to the Assembly's Faith Communities Forum as part of her orientation to her new rôle as Secretary.

Nor'dzin reports on the meeting as follows:
"Andrea and Jo asked many interesting questions.  They clearly had researched the principles of Buddhism and were interested to find out about my thoughts on various issues.  We discussed the Buddhist attitude towards organ donation; whether there were special Buddhist Holy Days that they should try to avoid when calling meetings; they asked about the form that Buddhist practice takes – such as meditation, mantra, chant, song, visualisation.
      I took Andrea and Jo up to see our shrine room, decorated in traditional Nyingma Buddhist style.  They enquired whether there was a particular image or icon that should be present in a shared faith room with regard to Buddhism. 
     One specific query was with regard to the recent government consultation document about same-sex civil partnership.  They said that one Buddhist had expressed a possible problem with the use of the word 'forever' for the vow a couple would make.  I suggested that this could have been because of the Buddhist view of the impermanence of everything, or because of the vow being made for the relationship in this lifetime only, as rebirth is a key tenet of Buddhism.
     I explained to Andrea and Jo about the importance of the teacher in Buddhism – how there were many and various forms of Buddhist practice and that the style of particular Buddhist groups would reflect the practice style of their teacher.  I expressed that unfortunately this can mean that Buddhist groups tend to be rather separate and not interact with one another.  This discussion about the teacher in Buddhism prompted a question about the Dalai Lama, and I expressed that all Buddhists would respect the Dalai Lama, but that he was not a 'Buddhist Pope' – that the Dalai Lama is the head of the Gélug school of Tibetan Buddhism, but that there were three other schools of Buddhism within Tibetan Buddhism itself, as well as numerous other forms of Buddhism quite different in style to Tibetan Buddhism.
They had one particular question about the Buddhist Council of Wales's website, which was why there was a 'members' page and an 'other' groups page.  I replied that it was necessary for members to be active and send a representative to our twice yearly meetings for the Council to function.  Those on the 'members' page were those that were currently active members.
     I enjoyed Andrea and Jo's visit and appreciated their taking the time to talk to me.  I believe my replies to their questions offered a broad view of Buddhism in Wales."

Sunday 10 July 2011

Faith and Parenting survey

The Buddhist Council of Wales has been informed of a survey that looks into faith and learning.  The questionnaire is quite short and easy to follow if you wish to support this work.

As part of a University of Warwick funded research project we are investigating the links (if any) between parents' religious or spiritual beliefs and their engagement in children's learning.

Below is a link to an online questionnaire which we would invite you to complete giving your views. All responses will remain anonymous.


Results from the survey will be used to inform publications and further research into understanding how to best support children's learning.

We would be grateful if you forward this link to any other parents you feel would be interested in the research.

If you would like any further information on the project or have any questions please contact

Thank you for your participation.

Dr Janet Goodall University of Warwick

Kathryn Ghent Birmingham City University

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Newport Family Fun Day

The following Interfaith event with be happening this month:

7 Aside Football Tournament on Astro Turf Pitches.
Info: Robert Muza 07871277103 robertmuza@yahoo.co.uk
Ezala Beni 07776250748. Leigh Williams 07814496058.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Spiritual Journeys exhibitions at the British Museum.

The Buddhist Council of Wales has been informed via the Interfaith Council about two forthcoming major exhibitions at the British Museum exploring spiritual journeys.

Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe
23 June – 9 October 2011
This exhibition brings together for the first time some of the finest sacred treasures of the medieval age. It features over 150 objects drawn from over 40 European church treasuries, including the Vatican, museums in the USA and the British Museum’s collection. The exhibition focuses on the peak of the practice of venerating relics in medieval Europe, and objects include relics of the Holy Thorn, fragments of the True Cross, the breast milk of the Virgin Mary, reliquaries made to hold relics of St Thomas Becket, and the hair of St John the Evangelist.

The Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam
26 January – 15 April 2012This exhibition will explore the sacred pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj. Objects from the UK, Middle East, Africa and Europe will reveal the purpose, history and context of this significant journey for Muslims, from its beginnings to the present day. Discover the rituals that take place, the experiences of the pilgrims and the sheer operation behind this extraordinary and peaceful event which attracts over three million pilgrims each year.

For both of these exhibitions special group rates and lecture packages available. For more information and to book group tickets, please call 020 7323 8181 or visit www.britishmuseum.org. For group lecture packages, please email groups@britishmuseum.org.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Lama Tenam at Palpung

Lama Tenam, Executive Secretary to the Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche,

 will be visiting UK and giving teachings at

Palpung Changchub Dargyeling, Wales

JUNE 24th-25th 2011
FRI 24th 7pm to 9pm Why lineage is important?

SAT 25th 10am to 12 am The Essence of all Dharma (according to Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thayes Instruction)
SAT 25th 2pm to 4pm Teaching on the Doha by 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa
Suggested donation to each session is £15.

Palpung Changchub Dargyeling
96 King Street

NP23 4SY

Enquiries: 01495 313395

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Aberystwyth Zen Retreat

In case the contact information is not very clear: Ian Finlay 01970 625762, email:  genzan1@yahoo.co.uk

Monday 13 June 2011

Mindfulness study

A final year student of psychology is looking for volunteers to help with a study on mindfulness.  Please contact her if you are interested in taking part.  The questionnaire is quite short and easy to complete.  If you would like to help please email Claire Cotterill: cotteri2@uni.coventry.ac.uk
She says:

"I am a final year Psychology student at the University of Coventry. I am doing some research to ascertain whether being mindful (as gained through meditation practice) helps to reduce social anxiety, a common mental health problem. 

To date I have collected data from over 170 people, but only 6 participants have had any prior experience of meditating, so it is difficult to demonstrate whether meditating reduces social anxiety. I was wondering if you would mind disseminating this research to your members / sangha?

The questionnaire take no longer than 10 minutes to complete and in terms of data protection I don’t actually need participants to type their names on the consent form if they don’t want to (although I do need to know age, sex and mindfulness experience)."

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Opening of the Fourth Assembly

Yesterday Ngakma Nor'dzin attended the opening of the Fourth Assembly at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. The 7th June started wet but brightened up by about 10 am. Her Highness the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, officially opened the Assembly.

Ngakma Nor'dzin shook hands with the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles and Carwyn Jones, the new First Minister. Prince Charles asked who she represented and Ngakma Nor'dzin was pleased to be able to tell him of the Buddhist Council of Wales.

After the opening ceremony the Royal party, government officials and guests enjoyed a delicious meal at the Millennium Centre.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

The Gwylnos of the Mace

Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo, Chairperson of the Buddhist Council of Wales, and her husband, Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin Tridral, represented the Council at this interfaith ceremony on the eve of the opening of the Fourth Assembly Government.

The Gwylnos ceremony, beautifully put together by the Reverend Aled Edwards – Chief Executive of Cŷtun, emphasised the aspiration of the National Assembly for sustainable development, equal opportunities and human rights within communities.

Ngakma Nor’dzin and Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin sang Dorje Tsig Dün—the seven thunderbolt phrases of Padmasambha—and accompanied themselves with bell and drum.

Monday 6 June 2011

Faith, Poverty and Development Seminar

Faith, Poverty and Development Seminar - 2nd May, City Hall, Cardiff
- report by Ngakma Nor'dzin Pamo, Chairperson, Buddhist Council of Wales

The seminar was organised by Cyfanfyd, the Welsh organisation supporting ESDGC (Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship).
It was attended by representatives from the following organisations:
South Riverside Community Development Centre; Caerphilly Borough Council; Hindu Community; GOT project; Education and School Improvement Service; Valleys Regional Equality Council; Rhondda Cynon Taf; Save the Children; ESOL; The Boys Brigade; One World Week; WEA; Christian Aid; Oxfam; Islamic Relief; Ethnic Youth Support Team; South People's Projects; Welsh Assembly Government; Cardiff Council; Life Map Planners

The seminar began with a highly personal and moving keynote speech by Omer Williams who works for the Welsh Assembly Government.  He talked of his travels after converting to Islam when he was 17 and of Islamaphobia. After this there were three short speeches from representatives of Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and Oxfam.  It was inspiring to hear of their work and aspirations. 

There then followed a choice of two out of three workshops.  These were:
  • Faith and development - looking at the influence of faith in the past and how it can contribute in the future with regard to international development; 
  • Faiths in the Media - how the faiths are represented in the media; 
  • Faith Tools and Resources - faith as a tool and resource for development in schools and communities.  
Choosing two was difficult as they all sounded interesting, but I decided on Faiths in the Media before lunch and Faith Tools and Resources after lunch.
Faiths in the Media was a slightly misleading title, as only one faith was looked at: the Muslim faith.  It was an interesting and informative workshop and I was shocked to discover quite how biased media reporting is towards a negative view of Muslims.  I was a little disappointed however that no other faiths were considered, though perhaps this was unrealistic to expect in the time available.

Faith Tools and Resources focused on One World Week.  It was more interactive than the previous workshop and included an exercise to guess from which religion came a set of scriptural quotations.  Working with my partner we only got three correct and I did not guess the Buddhist quotation correctly!  It was fascinating to see how similar were the messages of all the quotations.

I enjoyed the seminar and valued meeting new people from different organisations and faith groups.

Monday 30 May 2011

Regional Interfaith Councils meeting

On May 26th Ngakma Nor'dzin Pamo, Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales, attended the annual Interfaith Network meeting.  This year the meeting was hosted by the Inter-Faith Council for Wales and held at the South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff.  The meeting was attended by representatives from the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum, the Scottish Inter Faith Council, the Inter-Faith Council for Wales, and the Inter Faith Network for the UK.  The meeting was expertly chaired by Dr Harriet Crabtree, the Director of the Inter Faith Network for the UK.

This gathering is a valuable opportunity for representatives of the various UK interfaith communities to meet and share their experiences.

Ngakma Nor'dzin comments:
It was a long meeting—four and a half hours—but conducted throughout with great courtesy and respect, and with an informal and relaxed atmosphere.  I feel delighted to have made contact with such a dedicated group of people.  It was most interesting to hear of the different approaches and initiatives of the various regional interfaith organisations.  I was particularly moved by hearing of the difficulties experienced by the Inter-Faith Forum in Northern Ireland.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Karmapa Khyenno global practice

The KARMAPA KHYENNO page on Facebook is inviting people to join the global practice on the recitations of Karmapa Khyenno.  For the full text go to the page, but here is an extract.

GKRA (H.H. Gyalwang Karmapa Remembrance Association) invites you to join the global practice on the recitations of Karmapa Khyenno
At the end of last year, in Tegar Monastery, Bodhgaya, in answer to the devoted request of GKRA, H.H. the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje instructed to recite “Karmapa Khyenno” for the annual puja of 2011, he also compassionately composed a dedication verse in order for all participants in this global Dharma practice to dedicate the merit in a perfectly beneficial way!
In order to contribute to the celebration of Karmapa 900, GKRA would like to invite all Dharma friends and all other friends worldwide to join us in this profound puja of recitation practice, so we may contribute to bringing about the greater benefit for HHK’s enlightened activities which will lead to greater benefit for all beings!!  The annual puja of 2011 will initiate in Rumtek Monastery, D.C.C, Sikkim on May 17th, 2011, which is the same date when Buddha attained enlightenment and passed into Nirvana in Saga Dawa in Tibetan Tsurphu Calendar. This Tibetan Calendar has been adapted by Rumtek Monastery since the time of H.H.16th Karmapa. The puja will last for about one month or until at least 100 million times of recitations are accomplished.  There will be a special dedication ceremony for a perfect completion of this profound puja. 
As what has been done for years, we will dedicate all merit of this puja to the long life and well-being of the spiritual leader of Tibet, H.H. Dalai Lama, the genuine masters of all four Tibetan Buddhism lineages, and all holy beings in the world; may they continue to turn the wheel of Dharma. We will also dedicate the merit to world peace, may all beings be free from wars, famines, droughts, and especially the natural calamities caused by human destruction to the nature.  May the timely rain descend so that the farmers and all beings will get the abundant harvest.  May all beings have happy and satisfied lives, and especially, may the harmony and auspiciousness in all sanghas and dharma communities increase and increase!    
We sincerely invite all of you from different parts of the world to join us in this recitation practice of Karmapa Khyenno!  You’re more than welcome to join us in Rumtek, to immerse yourself in the profound energy of sangha blessing, and contribute your wonderful power of aspiration to the puja!  You can also start now, wherever you are, to accumulate the numbers of recitations, and report your final numbers of recitation to gkra.karmapa@gmail.com together with your name.  We’ll  present all participants’ names for the special completion dedication ceremony, may all your obstacles be pacified, may you live long and healthy, may your life is successful and meaningful! 
The final date of reporting your name and the numbers of recitations will be posted at our facebook account as well as on Rimey Mandala of Buddhism blog: http://hk.myblog.yahoo.com/rewunewyork-usa, and Gyaltsab Rinpoche Taiwan blog: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/ralangattw .

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Meditation and Attentional Control study

Kim Jenkins from Swansea University is looking for people to take part in a study:

Take part in our study!
We are looking for males and females to take part in a study on meditation and attentional control. We are keen to recruit both individuals who currently practice meditation as well as those who have never meditated.

You will need to be 18 years of age or older, a fluent English speaker, and not currently dieting to lose weight. You will be asked to complete two computer based tasks and a series of questionnaires. The study should take no longer than 1 hour. Please also note that you will be asked to fast (i.e. consume no food) for 3 hours prior to taking part.

The study will either take place at Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP or possibly at the Palpung Changchub Dargyeling, The Chapel, 96 King Street, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, NP23 4SY (depending on participant numbers).

If you are interested in taking part, or would like to know more, please contact Kim Jenkins on 07908115403 or online at 290921@swansea.ac.uk

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Tibetan Translator needed

The Buddhist Council of Wales has received the following enquiry from Azar Melville:

"I am looking for someone who may be able to help me with a small amount of translation from Tibetan to English. There will be a small payment and it is quite urgent."

If anyone can help Azar please contact the Chair of the Buddhist Council, Nor'dzin Pamo, via a blog comment or the website contact form.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Stupa blessing – Satipanya

Satipanya is about two miles across the Welsh border, near Welshpool.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Daisaku Ikeda quote

Roy Jones of SGI West Wales sent this quote for posting.  The image is of a statue of Nichiren Daishonin outside Choshu Temple in Kamakura.

The Lotus Sutra has the drama of fighting for justice against evil. It has the warmth that comforts the weary. It has a vibrant, pulsing courage that drives away fear. It has a chorus of joy at attaining absolute freedom throughout past, present and future. It has the soaring flight of liberty. It has brilliant light, flowers, greenery, music, paintings, vivid stories. It offers unsurpassed lessons on psychology, the workings of the human heart; lessons on life; lessons on happiness; and lessons on peace. It maps out the basic rules for good health. It awakens us to the universal truth that a change in one's heart can transform everything.

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1 page 14 (World Tribune Press - 2000)

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Awareness of World Religions

Awareness of World Religions including their cultural, history, philosophy and political context. Calendar Religion & Belief, 2011 - 2012 Fasts and Festivals eBook. Baha'ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Shinto and Zoroastrianism. As well as Chinese, Jewish, Indian, Muslim Calendar etc.

Download the April and May 2011 A3 Poster Multi Faiths Calendar pages

Faith Training For Your Organisation
* Does your organisation deliver services to people of different faiths?
* Are you unclear about the legislation relating to religion and belief and how this affects you?
* Do you want to start an inter-faith project and want some guidance?
* Are there religious tensions in your area of work which you want to reduce?
* Do you know whose hand you can shake and which days are religious holy days?
http://www.multifaiths.com - World Religion & Faith Website

Sunday 17 April 2011

SGI event - Buddhism and Life

Buddhism and Life
Tuesdays 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st May
7 - 8.30pm
West Wales Arts Centre, West Street, Fishguard

Themes for the evenings:
10th - Why chant?
17th - Karma
24th - Open Forum Discussion
31st - Openness of Self and Environment

Admission free, everyone welcome

Contact Roy Jones 07929 225837

Soka Gakkai International http://www.sgi.org/

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Palpung new shrine room

Palpung Wales invite their friends and well-wishers to celebrate the completion of the Palpung Wales Centre´s new shrine room on Saturday 10th April 5.30pm onwards.  Food will be provided but you can take something to share if you wish. They say that everyone is warmly welcome, but ask people to contact them to let them know if you are going to join them.

Palpung Changchub Dargyeling
96 King Street
Blaenau Gwent
NP23 4SY

Tel:01495 313395

Friday 8 April 2011

Network of Buddhist Organisations

The Network of Buddhist Organisations (UK) is a national Buddhist organisation that "exists to support UK Buddhist organisations and their members."  They say they "are a national umbrella organisation for UK  Buddhism and  were founded in 1993. We include both Buddhist practice traditions as well as non-denominational and secular organisations amongst our supporters. We also welcome individual supporters.  The primary purpose of the NBO is to bring Buddhists and those sympathetic to Buddhism together in cooperative projects and campaigns which will help a culture of awakening  to become firmly established in the UK."

It is their AGM on the 7th May from 10.30 till 4.30. Each year a venue for the AGM is offered by an NBO member. This year the meeting will be held in London at:
SGI-UK, London Ikeda Peace Centre, 7 Wakefield Street, London, WC1N 1PG,
Tea and coffee will be available. Lunch will be a cold buffet. Please bring food to share.

Monday 28 March 2011

New Chair and Meet and Greet

Yesterday was the meeting of the Buddhist Council of Wales.  Nor'dzin Pamo and her husband, 'ö-Dzin Tridral have been attending the meetings for a few years as Aro Lineage representatives.  Nor'dzin has also been working on the website a little.  Yesterday Nor'dzin was elected as Chair of the Council - a post that lasts for up to three years.

Her first duty as Chair was to attend a function at Cardiff Castle this evening.  Nor'dzin  says: "This was described as a 'meet and greet' with Jon House, the Chief Executive of Cardiff Council, Judith Woodman, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Communities, Housing and Social Justice, and a representative of Cardiff Police whose name I did not catch, with representatives of various faith communities in Cardiff.

The main part of the evening took place in the magnificent banqueting hall of Cardiff Castle.  Judith Woodman and Jon House gave information on the work of Cardiff Council to benefit the communities of Cardiff and invited those of us present representing faith communities to keep in touch with them to voice the needs of religious communities in Cardiff.

After their presentations and questions and answers, we were treated to a short tour of the castle.  We visited the Marquis of Bute's bedroom, the small dining room, the drawing room and the library.  Our guide was most informative and entertaining."

The photograph of Cardiff Castle was taken by 'ö-Dzin in December.  Nor'dzin believes that the tour walked up the steps of the circular tower to access the Marquis of Bute's bedroom.

Monday 21 March 2011

Tick the box for Buddhism

The Network of Buddhist Organisations are asking all Buddhists to support them in their campaign to 'tick the box for Buddhism' in the census, March 2011.

They say:
Please join our campaign ‘Tick the Box for Buddhism’. 

What’s it all about? The next census, in March 2011, will  include a voluntary question about religious affiliation. This was controversial in the last census in 2001 because many felt that it was an invasion of privacy and that the information might be abused. Several hundred thousand Jedi Knights demonstrated their opposition by coming out as a new religion.

Those worried about how the religious affiliation figures might be used were right to be concerned. They have  been used to determine relative levels of representation, access, and funding  made available through government, charities and public organisations to faith groups.

Levels of recognitions have been adjusted according to the relative proportion of the ‘vote’ a faith received on the census. Based upon the last census figures the lion’s share of influence has been taken by the large and established religions.

Although the census figures are used as though they accurately represent religious affiliation in the UK, they are misleading. Firstly, the census question is a leading one and asks ‘What is your religion’ rather than asking alternatives such as:
‘Do you belong to a religion, if so which?’, or ‘Which faith or religions do you most support?’

The choices available only list the six official major faiths – Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faiths, (and ‘none’ and ‘other’) – and they do not distinguish between cultural, lukewarm and serious religious practitioners.

The question favours cultural affiliation to religion (the feeling that one has the same religion as one’s parents or ethnic group even if one does not practice) rather than those who actively practice a faith.

Secondly, evidence suggests that many who are sympathetic to Buddhism, and who may practice mindfulness and meditation, or who are inspired by or respect its teachings, did not indicate that they were Buddhists on the 2001 census. Western Buddhists in particular are uncomfortable with adopting labels, or with feeling forced to express a religious identity.

Because of these problems with the census question on religious affiiliation, we would prefer that it was not included and that other more precise and frequent surveys were used to determine how religion influences British citizens.

However, since the question is to remain  to guide government policy for the next ten years then many of us would like to see more accurate figures for Buddhism. Buddhism  brings a moderating and common-sense influence to religious issues which is sorely needed.  And it is the only non-theistic faith ( one which does not worry about ‘God’)  amongst the major faiths. Based upon the levels of interest shown in Buddhist practices, mindfulness, retreats, information and books, we think it is reasonable to anticipate that up to half a million citizens could ‘tick the box’ for Buddhism in the next census if they realised the importance of doing this.

If this were the case  we would  expect Buddhism and its values to be more visible and to exert more influence.  And perhaps most importantly, greater support for Buddhism would demonstrate public demand for religiously inspired behaviour that UK citizens admire and want to encourage – behaviour based on compassion, generosity, tolerance, non-violence, humility, rational discourse, and proven meditation and spiritual teachings.

With greater support for Buddhism we would also expect that mindfulness and other meditation practices which are proving very helpful for general well-being, would be more widely taught  in schools and that the religious curricula might give more emphasis to the human values and behaviour that we share in common and admire – compassion, kindness, generosity, wisdom and meditation and rational inquiry – rather than religious doctrine that tends to be divisive.

So, if you have been inspired by, or benefited from, Buddhism through meditation, mindfulness practice, or attendance at a Buddhist group or retreat, please indicate your support by ticking the Buddhist box on the 2011 census. And we want to encourage all Buddhists to ask their friends, in Buddhist temples, monasteries and mindfulness centres,  and other sympathetic groups, and in internet social networking sites and forums, to do the same.