What is your role at Buddhafield?
I have a few… I am the Buddhafield Festival mandate holder, Director of Buddhafield events, the Programming mandate holder for our programme of events and the men’s Mitra convenor. I’m also the lead link for the Operations Circle. For Buddhafield Base, I’m part of the team that brought Base into being – I’ve worked on the acquisition of soft loans and support the property search. I also hold a consultancy role within the Base team.
How did you get involved with Buddhafield?
I got involved in Buddhafield in 2010, so this is my 14th year. I started by washing up in the cafe at Glastonbury. From there I travelled with Buddhafield Cafe to the festival while living in a van. I moved into the community after that season for three and a half years.
What is the most important thing that Buddhafield Base is offering the world now?
Buddhafield Base aims to exemplify a different way of living. It is not just about living together in a community, which is still uncommon in today’s world – which is geared towards nuclear families. Instead, it is about living together with a purpose, guided by the principles of Buddhist Dharma. The aim is to live in harmony, with kindness, and with a sense of individual and collective growth towards positive and fruitful realizations. Exploring the potential of human beings living together feels like a significant contribution to the world, especially in today’s divided world. By doing this within the context of the land, there is a potential for a lot of healing. Both the land and people need healing, and together, this can be fruitful.
Which of the values of Buddhafield Base are most important to you and why?
Tricky to pick one of the four values because they’re not mutually exclusive, although you could have a community that just had Dharma teaching, or a community that was just land based. The Dharma teaching aspect that underpins all of them is probably the most important to me because this will give the community the direction and cohesion that it needs – its sense of purpose and togetherness.
Tell us about one of your Buddhafield high points.
When I first took over managing Buddhafield Festival about seven years ago, it was a high point to get through that first one and feel like I’d held it well. During the COVID years, we ran two festivals. Although it was challenging and quite difficult to pull off – and the weather was atrocious for the first one – I felt like I’d achieved something. Up against all the odds, we did something that pretty much no other organisation was able to do – not only one but two successful events. So that feels like a real sense of achievement.
How about a low point?
Probably 2012 – it was hard. Every event we did – Buddhafield Cafe, retreats, and Buddhafield Festival – was just completely washed out. I remember being at Sunrise Festival with the café; the main arena was a mud lake. You had to wade through it. The flags had all blown down, everyone had gone home, the cafe had a sea of mud flowing into the seating area, AND I got really ill with food poisoning… that was a pretty low point! Buddhafield Festival itself was also really muddy, and there were rivers of mud! It was very difficult for everyone, and we worked hard afterwards to clear up.
Do you have any Buddhafield jokes?
How do you know if a hippy has been in your field? They’re still there…
Can you share something unexpected about yourself or your life?
Reflecting on my life, I realise I left school at 17. I was not a particularly academic person, so I didn’t go to university. I worked in restaurants, washing up, waiting tables and eventually managing restaurants. It was quite unexpected that at 23, I packed up everything and went to live in a van. I never really looked back on that decision. It felt like the right thing to try and live in a very different way. If you had told me then that I would be managing a festival with a lot of responsibility and a lot of beautiful friendships and connections or that I’d be working for an inspiring Buddhist charity, that would have been unexpected to a young man growing up on the edges of London. That fills me with gratitude for the path that led me to Buddhafield and for the continuing context of support, care, inspiration and the trust that’s been put in me to keep delivering; I feel the responsibility of that but also the faith in that as a practice.