Cambridge University Buddhist Society
The Cambridge University Buddhist Society (website) is a student-run society at Cambridge University, England. It is the second oldest Buddhist society in Britain and the first run by students, and has provided Cambridge's diverse community with exposure to Buddhist thought, tradition and practice since its founding in 1955.
Evolution of Focus
Since its original founding, the identity and activities associated with the Buddhist society have changed significantly to reflect changing interests of its general membership. Originally a forum for academic and philosophical debate on issues treated in Buddhist literature, the society in its original form drew largely on students of the Oriental Studies tripos and related subjects with knowledge of languages the original texts, including Pali and Sanskrit. CUBS published a widely circulated journal, KALPA, to promote dialogue on topics raised.
In the 1970s, His Holiness the Dalai Lama became the society's Honorary President. Meditation as a form of training for spiritual and mental well-being received higher profile during this period, attracting many students to undertake meditative practice. Numerous meditation classes are now undertaken in Cambridge, allowing students to study under several Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions.
In recent years, racial composition of the society has changed considerably as a result of increasing proportion of foreign students admitted to the university. Students from Thailand, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries, as well as the People's Republic of China, now form a majority proportion of the membership. This has resulted in a greater emphasis placed on cultural and devotional practices associated with Buddhism.
At present, the society's main activities involve organisation of talks and discussions by members of the Buddhist community: scholars, meditation teachers, writers, and Buddhist monks. All society events are open to all visitors and are currently free of charge; donations towards society expenses are treated as a form of Dāna.