Bodhi Garden means, literally, ‘garden of awakening’. It is an important part of Brighton’s thriving Buddhist community. It is for anyone drawn to Buddhist teachings, meditation practice, and dharma enquiry. It is run entirely through voluntary effort.
The Bodhi Garden is a small, independent charity, which operates on the traditional Buddhist principle of dana. It was established in 2001 by the English Buddhist Monastery Trust (EBMT), a UK-registered charity which was constituted to support "the study and practice of the Buddhist way of life", and whose ethos is one of non-sectarianism.
The EBMT (UK charity no. 1088804) was initially set up by a small team of volunteers to establish an inter-denominational Buddhist monastery in England. The inspiration for the project came from Tenzin Josh, an English-born monk in the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition who had also taken ordination in the Theravadin Forest Tradition of Thailand. The project came with the blessing of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Josh’s main teacher. Trying to establish a monastery in the UK with little money or support proved to be a too-huge undertaking! While it remained a core ambition of the EBMT for several years, the focus gradually became the establishing and maintaining of the Bodhi Garden Dharma Centre in downtown Brighton. This centre had a similarly non-sectarian ethos to the monastery project and was a practical way of providing a free space for Buddhist groups and individuals interested in Dharma teachings. It fulfilled the same basic intention behind the work of the Trust - helping the Dharma to take root and flourish in the West.
The EBMT also supports a small number of Buddhist monastic teachers and Buddhist groups and charities with no independent means of support. We welcome any support you can give us in this effort.
For 10 years (2001-11) the Bodhi Garden took the form of a non-denominational dharma centre in the middle of the Lanes area in Brighton. This centre operated as an umbrella space for a variety of Buddhist sitting groups, including those from the Theravadin, Tibetan and Zen traditions. The centre also offered an extensive programme of daily meditation and/or study groups, and regular day retreats and weekend workshops. For a small centre it had a significant impact. It became a talking point in both the UK and western Buddhist worlds for its overt efforts to bridge sectarian divides by accommodating different traditions (as well as monastic and lay forms) under one small, urban roof. However, the limits of practical support in maintaining a dana-run centre led to the EBMT being unable to continue the lease on the premises. Thus, the Bodhi Garden was compelled to “go forth from home to homelessness” and evolve into its current form of offering retreats in hired venues. Most of the sitting groups from the original dharma centre continue their activities in a variety of venues around Brighton and Hove – please go to the links page for details.
Over the years, the Bodhi Garden has hosted many and varied Buddhist teachers, including those from Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, Amida Trust, Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, Community of Interbeing, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, Gaia House Retreat Centre, Insight Meditation Society, Institute of of Buddhist Dialectics (Dharmasala), International Zen Association, London Buddhist Vihara, London Jamyang Buddhist Centre, Maitrikara Tibetan Buddhist group, Network of Engaged Buddhists, Rigpa, Samatha Trust, Samye Ling Monastery, Satipanya Buddhist Retreat, Serene Reflection Meditation Centre, Shambhala International, and Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Inquiry.
Currently our efforts are exclusively given over to providing one- and two-day retreats with the various teachers with whom we have established connections.
If you would like to join our email list, please contact us.