Let’s create European Buddhism!
By Stefano Davide Bettera - President of the European Buddhist Union

Laying the foundations for the development of a true European Buddhism capable of grasping the challenges of the contemporary world and proposing its own idea of society: This is the priority challenge that the new Council of the European Buddhist Union will face over the next years.

With the commitment to preserve the roots but, from here, to start towards the future. Care, dialogue, innovation and attention to the most urgent social issues and, above all, open reflection not only on one's own specific identity but, more generally, on an idea of humanity to be imagined and looked at through the lenses, history and profound values of the Buddhist path that has its own specificity and sensitivity: these are the guidelines that will inspire research, work, tools in an open relationship with the world.

The challenge will touch upon the issues most closely related to Buddhist and academic thought, parallel paths from which the definition of a clear presence in society passes. But that is not all: central will also be the relationship with the European institutions and with other religious organizations in common work and confrontation. As well as concrete action in civil society through projects and initiatives. In continuity with the spirit that has characterized it in these years, the EBU will be home of all its
members, no one excluded, the home of the representatives of each country and of the specific cultural peculiarities and practices. Non least the EBU will be the home of all European citizens and those who have an origin in Asian countries.

We, as a Council, as an assembly of member and practitioners, as a family, a real community of good friends, as a Sangha should be, will face together all instances that will emerge in respect of what is the spirit of the Dharma where equanimity, kindness, compassion guide our steps. An attitude that will always be firmly constructive, not divisive. A claiming or discriminatory attitude does not represent the sincere spirit of the Dharma, and I personally will always strive for our work to be guided by a spirit of dialogue, calm confrontation, awareness, kindness, respect and inclusion. These are indispensable and inalienable values that represent the watershed between ethical and non-ethical action. Especially in contexts where dialogue with politics or discussion on issues that deeply touch everyone's sensibilities will require special attention so that no one feels discriminated against or not listened to.

New EBU Board elected in Brussels

At the Annual General Assembly of the European Buddhist Union held in the Maison Notre-Dame du Chant-Oiseau building in Brussels, Belgium, on 24th September, the new Board of Directors was elected, which will remain in office for the next three years, until 2026.

The new president is Italian Stefano Davide Bettera, who served as vice-president for the previous two terms. Vice-president was elected Carlo Luyckx, current president of the Belgian Buddhist Union. The role of Treasurer will be held by Michael Ritman, as in the previous term. The other four members are Munisha Catherine Hopper, member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, Roxanna Pang, General Secretary of Fo Guang Shan Europe, Carlotta Segre from the Kunpen Lama Gangchen Association and Jake Lyne from the Western Chan Fellowship.

Valuable engagement on the issues, projects and activities that the EBU has been involved in over the years will continue, especially thanks to the commitment of its members and supporters, because a strong Buddhist voice is now indispensable and because this voice is capable of making a difference. We will not hide from today's challenges that make humanity fragile: the ecological issue and respect for our earth, poverty and social hardship, education and the future of young people, discrimination of all kinds, the pervasive presence of digital and artificial intelligence that requires serious ethical as well as practical reflection. In the same way, we will support the valuable and indispensable care work that European chaplains do every day in all places where suffering is present.

The Dharma offers valuable teachings and tools that can illuminate this confrontation and, once again, make it all the more urgent to take charge of the issue of our identity or identities, which can no longer be postponed if we want to make a valuable contribution and address a need for serious Buddhist thought.

The search for a possible definition can start from the words of Bernie Glassman, American Zen master, and his reflection on the forms of a new Western Buddhist identity: "It will not be a Dharma without rituals. I consider rituals to be rites of passage, and I think they will always be there. They will retain a firm foundation in the place where they originate. Buddhism does not at all demand that we observe the ritual of a thousand years ago: people will adopt the ritual of their time. Things emerge in life - as they do with birth and death - and people want to celebrate them in some way. There will always be a desire for ritual".

Things emerge in life, certainly. And so it will be from the life of the next few years that we can see what will emerge. There will be no lack of work, even hard work, but the journey and the landing in an as yet unknown port will certainly be exciting.

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