About Us

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Who we are

The European Buddhist Union (EBU) is a network of Buddhist organisations and National Buddhist Unions in Europe. We are open to all schools and traditions of Buddhism in Europe wishing to unite on the basis of Buddhist teachings and work together in spiritual friendship and respect for diversity.

Our values

We are motivated by Buddhist-inspired values of non-violence, compassion, kind-heartedness and  responsibility.

We encourage openness, clarity and transparency within the EBU, amongst our members and within the societies in which we live and work.

We support the implementation of Human Rights and equality and individual responsibility for all, regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, nationality, social origins, property, birth status or any other distinction.

We share the values that inspired the founders of the Council of Europe and the European Union: of maintaining peace, solidarity and diversity across Europe after centuries of wars and discrimination via free, democratic, open and non-discriminatory states.

At the root of many modern difficulties may often be found greed, anger and prejudice. Though these may be personal and local in origin, their consequences can be global and collective. We believe that spirituality in daily life can help transform attitudes, changing unhealthy consumerism and over-exploitation of our planet into care for all life forms as well as deep respect for the earth and its ecological diversity.

We believe that cultures of oppression, discrimination, labour exploitation and all aspects of social and economic injustice should be transformed into cultures of openness, freedom, co-operation and peace.

Our vision

We envision a European fellowship of Buddhists bringing Buddhist-inspired ideas and principles into European society. It is our hope that the voice of Buddhism will help bring about a world guided more and more by wisdom and compassion, for the happiness and wellbeing of all.

Our goals

. to be the leading European network giving European Buddhists a voice in Europe through information, networking and action.

. to develop capacity within European Buddhist communities (teachers, hospice-workers, prison chaplains, etc )

. to promote ecumenical dialogue both internal (amongst Buddhist traditions) and external (dialogue with other religions, beliefs and philosophies).

. to promote European Buddhist culture, ethics, philosophy, politics, social action and spirituality to a broad European audience.

. to be the forum for discussion and co-ordination of the future of teaching Buddhism in European schools and universities, as well as the promotion of academic texts, translations and research.

. to establish structural, informal and exploratory channels of communication between European Buddhists and the Council of Europe, the European Union and European and international organisations.

. to identify issues in European politics and culture where the voice of European Buddhism can make a positive contribution.

. to inform European politicians about Buddhism in Europe and to inform European Buddhists about European policies.

. to promote the actions of socially engaged Buddhists and share ideas about how Buddhism can contribute to a better world.

. to build partnerships with other organizations to combat discrimination and prejudice and promote human rights and human flourishing.

Our background

All Buddhist schools are inspired by the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived some 2500 years ago. Today Buddhism forms the fourth largest religion in the world.

Buddhism has characteristics found in religion, philosophy and science alike, yet cannot be reduced to any of these. Therefore, Buddhism has an unusual position within the European religious, philosophical and scientific landscape.

As a religion Buddhism challenges us to ask some of the deepest possible existential questions. It also
has temples, monks, nuns, rituals, prayers and offers meditation and spiritual training. On the other
hand Buddhist methodology is non-dogmatic and follows rigorous logical analysis as does philosophy.
It is empirical and embedded in a non-theistic tradition as is science.

Hence, Buddhism can shed a fresh light on our traditional definitions, categories and preconceptions – for example of religion, science and philosophy – which may result in a better cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary understanding.

There has been contact between Buddhist and European societies and philosophies since the time of Alexander the Great. The philosopher Pyrrho of Elis, who travelled with Alexander all the way to India, was strongly influenced by Buddhism. Buddhist monks were known to be present in pre-Christian Europe.

European Buddhism today

The roots of a settled Buddhist presence in Europe date back to the 19th century. European Buddhism is growing fast and makes an important intellectual, spiritual & cultural contribution to European society. Today, the political authorities of most European countries have come to some form of official recognition of Buddhism.

The EBU was founded in London in 1975, at the initiative of Judge Paul Arnold. The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held the same year in Paris. The AGM is an opportunity for members to meet and share experience in workshops, dialogue and other activities. The venue of the AGM changes from year to year and is provided by member organisations of the EBU; during the Cold War meetings were held on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The EBU is a member of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (2000).

In 2008 the EBU obtained official participatory status with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The
EBU is actively participating in the Council of Europe’s Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations.

The EBU has been a regular partner in dialogue between the European Union and European bodies
concerned with religion and belief. In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, enshrining in primary law (Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) a structural dialogue between the EU and its religions, churches and philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

The EBU is a founding member of ENORB, the European Network of Religion and Belief, founded in
Brussels, 2011.