We are conducting a participatory study to understand the impact of Buddhist teaching and practice on the everyday ethics of members of a London community.
London Fo Guang Shan Temple is located in London’s West End and serves a diverse community. It was founded in 1992 as a branch of a global organization based in Taiwan and many of its devotees are first, second or third generation immigrants from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong or other places with large Chinese populations. The organization, called Fo Guang Shan after the mother temple in Gaoxiong, Taiwan, emphasises the importance of ethics by putting Buddhist teachings into practice in worship, spiritual development, and everyday life.
The project is being run by a participatory research committee including anthropologists, monastics from the temple and lay volunteers and will try to understand how, for members of the community, Buddhism informs conceptions of the good life, spiritual practice and everyday ethics of social life.
This work is a pilot for a much more extensive project that we hope to carry out in future years, if we can secure funding. The full project will include a much larger number of participants and will include Fo Guang Shan Communities in several countries to enable comparison. One of the planned outputs of the full project is a collection of interviews, journal entries and other materials, all dealing with questions of ethical culture and the good life, and all generated by members of Fo Guang Shan communities.