Beginnings can be hard to pinpoint, but let’s choose 1995 as a moment in time from which we can start to tell telling some of the story of Buddhafield Base. At this point, Buddhafield was a bunch of Londoners from within the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) who had an idea.
Here’s an extract from their mission statement at that time:
We aim to introduce people to the practices of Buddhism as understood within the FWBO whilst being open to the organic development of skilful, creative, and imaginative ways of communicating the deeper principles of the Dharma.
In that year, 1995, Buddhafield ran the “Buddhist meditation marquee” and the “Green Buddha Cafe” at Glastonbury festival, as well as various camping retreats. Through their activities, those pioneering Buddhafielders hoped the year would see them teach 1000 people meditation, organise 1000 retreat days and raise £1000/ day every day the cafe is open.
Once again, we have the coming together of principle (teaching meditation) and practicality (raising money): the lotus cannot flower if it has no mud in which to grow…
Buddhafield and land
We are drawn to nature as the primary context for our life and practice – to the beauty of the natural world, to the living experience of interconnectedness it gives us, to the ancient sacred sites and landscapes around us.
The Current Buddhafield Vision Statement
…and sometimes that mud isn’t just a metaphor. Buddhafield has always had a powerful relationship with land. All that Buddhafield is, and does, is rooted in nature. Many times at every Buddhafield event, participants are asked to “feel their feet on the ground… and breathe”. The first act of any meditation is to locate oneself in space and time, to come home.
Over the past 20 years, Buddhafield has acquired two pieces of land. The first, Bowerwood, was acquired by a strange (but apt) mixture of serendipity and plumbing. The second, Frog Mill, was acquired through a more conventional process of fundraising and a bank loan. Both places have become dear to the hearts of many members of Buddhafield and beyond and played an important role in the function and vision of Buddhafield.
Each piece of land is valued for its own sake as well as for the opportunity it has given Buddhafield to engage with the Dharma and with others from the wider world. Frog Mill, for instance, has been the site of Buddhafield’s annual family-friendly Village Retreat for many years already.
Our biggest event, Buddhafield Festival, has taken place in two locations. Each was chosen with a view to the practical factors such as the amount of camping space, access to water, access to transport, etc. as well as more sacred considerations like the opportunities that the particular location gives for practice, connection between people, and proximity to nature.
Buddhafield Base is the natural next step in the development of Buddhafield. The project will take us to a new home where we can:
- Continue to provide events, retreats, and festivals
- Store and look after our kit
- Support the outreach activities of the Buddhafield Cafe
- Create a permanent Buddhafield community
- Provide co-working spaces and studio spaces to facilitate ethical (team-based right livelihood) enterprises and creative pursuits
- Nourish our wider community and provide spaces and tools to restore, regenerate and nourish. We envision people leaving the Base and taking this resource back to their home communities.
- Invest time and energy into long-term land projects like a forest garden, wetland management, and permaculture-based food production
- Start our six-month, semi-residential Pathways to Resilience course for young people
- Provide residential Dharma Life volunteer opportunities
And all these practicalities are important because they pertain directly to the principles of our vision. A base will allow us to engage ever more with the wider world, inviting more people, more often to join us in our investigation of the Dharma. We will be able to deepen and strengthen the community of Buddhafield, empowering and equipping us to all contribute to our shared vision as well as helping us foster and renew our collective connection to the land, the primary context for our life and practice.
Photograph used with permission from Fraser Donachie