The European Buddhist Union recently brought together representatives from Buddhists groups of all traditions for a three-day conference at the Stupa of Enlightenment in Benalamadena, Spain.
Representatives came from over 15 European countries and many different Buddhist traditions including all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Japanese and Korean Zen and Pureland Buddhism, as well representatives from the Theravada traditions of Thailand and Laos. A wonderful mixture of people and traditions all connected holding the same motivation to spread wisdom and compassion into society.
Among the opening speeches members of local and national governments reminded us that Buddhism has been a recognised religion in Spain since 2007.
Then in the main presentations, speakers shared their experiences and projects on how wisdom and compassion benefit society on many different levels including:
• bringing mindfulness into prisons, schools, and our historiography in Europe;
• teaching meditation on the impermanence of the body to people diagnosed with AIDS with astounding effects;
• addressing important topics in society like gender equality in education and the limits of tolerance vis-a-vis anti semitic and anti-Islamist behaviour and hate-speech, or how same-sex marriage is seen in the Buddhist world;
• demonstrating that developing wisdom and compassion implies that we learn to embody and radiate these qualities into every activity of our lives with an attitude of care; and
• providing insights into the role of karma and the importance of our ancestors.
Workshops were offered to deepen specific topics and provide an experience of different meditation practices. Exchanging insights in interactive group sessions brought participants closer together.
The conference was filled with joyful people, all motivated by the Buddha to spread and radiate wisdom and compassion into the world. As one participant put it, “love was in the air”.