Cross your legs and hope to die laughing
Sunday 30 March 1997
Many of the growing band of British Buddhists will be spending today cross-legged on retreats, not a saffron robe in sight. Others will be gathering at Goldsmith's College next Sunday to celebrate 30 years of Buddhism in the West.
The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), a movement which began at a meditation session in a Soho basement in 1967 and includes Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson among its devotees, now teaches meditation to 20,000 Britons each year.
In the past year the number of FWBO centres in the West has increased by 20 per cent. There are 30 in the UK. The Manchester Buddhist Centre, opened last summer, is the largest urban Buddhist centre in Europe.
Of the estimated one million Buddhists in the West, 140,000 live in the UK. Disillusioned with established and New Age religions alike, they see Buddhism not as an exotic import, but a serious spiritual option.
In the heart of the East End of London a Buddhist community has sprung up. A vegetarian restaurant and cafe , an art gallery and health centre, all Buddhist, are within walking distance of the Bethnal Green FWBO centre. The centre's quadruple glazing and polished pine floors provide an oasis of calm and tranquillity.
Judith Wright, 37, a research officer at City University, was brought up a Christian. She took to meditating 18 months ago. "You can incorporate Buddhism into your life in terms of making your life and other people's lives better instead of living by a set of rules," she said. "Buddhism says: 'Follow your path, whatever it is,' whereas most of Christianity is: 'There's only one possible way and everyone else will go to Hell'."
Guhyapati, 31, one of 350 FWBO monks in the UK, says the attraction of Buddhism is that it is not a "prescriptive" religion. "Buddhism says: 'Well, try this out and see if it works.' It doesn't say: 'This is how it is'.
"Our society is increasingly nihilistic. Finding people whom you can actually share meaningful values with is extraordinary. It's a tradition that actually says: 'There's more to it than working your bollocks off to get a better car and better mortgage, satellite and cable TV'."
Soo Taylor, 36, was educated by nuns. "I remember being told: 'Have faith,' and saying: 'What is it?' They couldn't give me any ideas about life other than have faith in everything and it will be all right."
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber reach almost £154,000 on eBay
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...