By Gillian Reffell
At the Sydney Buddhist Centre June is BAM - Buddhist Action Month. It is a relatively recent addition to the Centre calendar and is set to become a firm tradition. The essence of BAM is to encourage individual Buddhists and Buddhist Centres to take any action they wish that benefits the environment, other people, our local communities or society. The theme for BAM in 2017 throughout the Triratna Buddhist Community was Connecting For Change. BAM seems especially relevant in a world that is dominated by individualism, materialism and consumer values.
Firstly we continued our engagement with climate change activism by helping the ongoing campaign across the country to #StopAdani. Some sangha members undertook Non-Violent Direct Action training offered by the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). Following on from that training the sangha supported an ARRCC sit-in at the CommBank head quarters in Sydney by holding a meditation session. We also took the opportunity to erect Stop Adani signage on the front of the busy Newtown street frontage and held a public viewing of the film ‘Guarding the Galilee’ – a powerful film summarising the key problems with the Adani mine proposal in Queensland.
Additionally, we held a 'Vegan Week': The sangha was invited to sign up for the week and participants encouraged throughout the week with helpful tips and ideas. A vegan dinner was held at the end of the week.
We also focussed on refugee issues and support: We made a special additional effort to contribute to the Food Bank Basket at the Centre, and several sangha members supported two refugee events that were part of Refugee Week in Sydney.
Sangha members also collected lots of pairs of woolly socks and delivered them to homeless people sleeping rough on the cold city streets.
And just for good measure street meditations over one weekend were organised in solidarity with other Triratna centres participating in BAM. A flash-mob style sit was held at Camperdown Park.
I think its fair to say that 2018 BAM promises to be another well supported month of practical actions that express care and concern for the world around us.