The Bath Buddhist Group
Meets at: The Scouts Headquarters, 7 Grove Street Bath BA2 6PJ
When: Thursday evenings 7:45pm - 9:30pm
No need to book you can just turn up.
The Bath Buddhist Group was established nearly forty years ago and aims to promote an interest in Buddhism and to encourage its study and application. It seeks to represent all main schools of Buddhism.
What the group offers you:
- Are you looking for an opportunity to meditate with others?
- Are you interested in Buddhism, without wanting to subscribe to one particular teacher or tradition?
In the Bath Buddhist Group you’ll find a group where:
- You can meditate in a supportive environment.
- You can join others in developing a deeper understanding of the Buddha’s teaching and how its application can help you.
- You can discuss your daily practice and share your questions.
- Long standing practitioners of various Buddhist traditions lead meditations and offer guidance to beginners.
- Guest speakers and core members of the group give talks on the term’s theme.
The Bath Buddhist Group -
where once a week you can walk the Noble Eightfold Path in the company of others.
For further information, contact John Harvey at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bath Buddhist Group was founded in 1977 by John & Heather Harvey. The following is an extract from ‘The History of the Bath Buddhist Group’:
Heather and I were newly married and had moved from London where we had attended Basil Sladen's Zen meditation group at the Buddhist Society every week. I remember telling the society's founder, Judge Christmas Humphreys that we would be moving to Bristol and said that I was sorry to discover that there were no Buddhist groups in the area. To my surprise and alarm, he told us that we would just have to start a group ourselves.
After living in Bristol for several months we moved in 1977 to a large maisonette in Grosvenor Place, Bath and some months afterwards placed an ad in the Bath Chronicle announcing the first meeting of the Bath Buddhist group. One person, a near neighbour whom we had not met, attended the first meeting and the three of us used to sit in meditation using the cushions from our sofa, a cereal bowl and wooden spoon for a gong. The meetings were divided between sitting meditation and discussing Christmas Humphreys book “The Buddhist Way of Action”. By 1978 the group had several members and we invited our former Zen meditation teacher, Basil Sladen to be our first speaker. He had a tendency to startle, and on one evening in London I recall him locking the meditation hall door to stop a class member from leaving. We did not think to discuss the length of time that we would spend in meditation when he came to the Bath group, assuming something in the order of half an hour. In the event it went on for ages; alternating between sitting and walking. By the time he called a halt, by knocking the cereal bowl onto the floor, the candle had burned out and we had repeatedly bumped into each other during the walking meditation in our relatively small sitting room…
… In the next few years the group developed and benefited from a variety of visiting speakers. Our first bhikku was venerable Viradhammo who subsequently became the first Abbot of the first Theravadan monastery in New Zealand. It was such a delight to arrive home and find him in our sitting room. He gave an inspiring talk, with much wisdom and humour.
Early in the life of the Bath group, the English Sangha Trust bought Chithurst House in Sussex. The poor condition of the property provided opportunities for many people to offer their time and skills. Several cars of Bath group members spent a weekend there doing such basic jobs as clearing rubbish, cleaning, unblocking drains, etc. We followed monastic rules and were awakened at 4.00am (I had never been up at that time before, and was surprised to find that, although summer, it was still dark.) There was one WC and one cold tap for washing…
… Around that time several members with young children decided to start a children’s group that met for several years at the various homes of the parents. We had moved house by this time, and there was no longer sufficient space for the numbers who wanted to attend the meetings. The Group moved first to St. Marks Community Centre, and later (because the sound of the country dancers practising in the next room sat uneasily alongside silent meditation) to Lyncombe Hill, then to the Deaf Centre in North Parade (wet carpets and loud cheers from the nearby rugby ground), the Sea Cadets (loudly quacking ducks), the Girl Guides (the premises were sold), and now the Boy Scouts headquarters. If the council should ever decide to put plaques up to commemorate the various venues of the BBG, they will get a discount for a bulk order!
The Group’s speakers have included David Brandon (“Zen and the Art of Helping”), Trevor Leggett (numerous books on Zen), Ajahn Sumedho (we hired the Bell School of Languages for the large turnout that greeted him in 1988), Irmgard Schloegl (before she was ordained as Ven.Myokyo-ni, and Anne Bancroft (numerous books on most schools of Buddhism and a member of the World Council of Buddhists).
In 1997 Ajahn Viradhammo agreed to give a talk to commemorate the Group’s twentieth birthday. Again the Pump Room, again a capacity audience, and in the front row, our very first member, Sylvia.
In 2007 Ajahn Sumedho gave the talk to celebrate the group’s thirtieth birthday, speaking to a capacity audience in the Guildhall banqueting room.
It has been a source of great delight to Heather and I to have been associated with the development of the Bath Buddhist Group. We have met many delightful and insightful people. For us, Buddhism in Bath can be summed up in three words; fun, friendship and inspiration. Long may it continue.