This afternoon a meeting of the committee of TBSUK was held at The Forest Hermitage. The purpose of the meeting was to take forward the proposal, agreed at our last General Meeting in August, to develop TBSUK as a professional registration body for Theravada Sangha members in the UK.
This was a well attended meeting with almost a full complement of committee members present. Only Venerable Seelawimala of the London Buddhist Vihara was unable to be with us.
For the benefit of Ashin Pannobaso who was not at the last couple of meetings and to remind other members, I briefly related the circumstances that had led us to consider the advantages of having all Theravada monks and nuns in this country properly and professionally registered with a responsible and known association or body, just as is the case with practically all other professions. I explained that this is not to be disrespectful of our various origins in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma, or wherever, but to develop for the UK a body not unlike what we have in those various Buddhist countries that registers, regulates and to some extent governs, represents and protects the Sangha. Furthermore nearly all our monasteries and temples in this country are small and it’s obvious, especially with some of the problems we have in common, that what each of us on our own can achieve is relatively limited but when we come together so much more can be done. A recent example has been the Immigration problem and I’m sure it made a difference when I was able to say at a meeting with the Immigration Minister that I was representing fifty temples. Registration will be voluntary and will take time and so I believe we should get on with it as soon as possible.
I’m pleased to say that we had a very useful discussion and now the work begins.
When our main business had concluded, Ven. Chao Khun Phrapanyabuddhiwithet (Ajahn Laow) raised two matters that he had brought from a recent meeting of Thai monks in Europe. The first concerned a so called work of art in Munich that features a large Buddha-Rupa on its side. This has caused a lot of offence and there’s been quite a bit about it I believe in the Thai press. But the protests have all been ignored. And the second was the refusal of Belgium to recognise Buddhism as a religion and in consequence of this there have been some difficulties put in the way of monks going to there. I don’t think there’s much we can do about the first matter but regarding the second I said I would make some enquiries about what EU law has to say about it.
All in all it was an excellent afternoon and I’m so grateful to everyone for going to the trouble of coming here.
Phra Bhavanaviteht (Luang Por Khemadhammo) OBE