The Centre for Applied Buddhism continues to dedicate its time to exploring and developing the skills and resources needed for people to transform conflicts at all levels – personal, interpersonal, communal, national and global. In addition, there is an emphasis on finding ways of creating ‘positive peace’, a phrase coined by Johan Galtung to identify peace not simply as the absence of war or direct violence, but as involving an attitudinal change, living in creative coexistence, and overcoming structural and cultural violence. Many of our structures, including the way we organise ourselves and our institutions and belief systems, are built on forms of ‘structural violence’, a term Galtung coined to express attitudes, world views and behaviours embedded in the systems we inhabit. These, together with cultural violence, that being when a system or culture oppresses or curtails the cultural expression or history of particular groups, need to be addressed in order to find ways of establishing dynamic and creative peace.
At CfAB we understand that conflict itself is an inherent part of life and that, when dealt with creatively, can provide the opportunity for dynamic and powerful ways towards social change and the co-creation of new realities. We condemn all forms of violence and uphold equality, justice and deep respect for all life and stand in solidarity with people marginalised or oppressed.
Examples of our contributions to the area of Conflict Transformation and Dialogue includes:
In 2016 we held a two-day conference ‘Buddhism and Conflict Transformation’ in collaboration with the University of Winchester at Taplow Court.
In 2015 we carried out research on women peacebuilders within the context of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka which was captured in a paper entitled:
Butterfly networks: how can women religious and community leaders transcend their ethnic large-group identities in post-conflict Sri Lanka and become social transformers in the process?
‘Our efforts are based on the belief that it is dialogue, first and foremost, that opens one heart to another. However slow this process may appear, we are convinced that it is the most certain path to world peace.’
One of the essential tools of conflict transformation is dialogue. It is a skill needed to find common ground and connect with people of differing views, and it is the endeavor to positively transform our own life as well as that of others.
The word dialogue consists of the two components logos - ‘meaning’ or ‘word’ and dia - ‘through’, suggesting a ‘stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us.’ Dialogue is a process of sharing our own personal meaning and creating common meaning together. Through expressing our views, feelings and experiences and deeply listening to those of others we develop empathy, understanding and tolerance and ultimately begin to create new meanings and realities.