Today is the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Hampshire Buddhist Society. To mark the occasion we are reproducing an article contributed by Jane Browne - one of the HBS founders - to the Memorial Booklet of Luang Sarayutpitag in 1969:
"The first meeting of the Hampshire Buddhist Society was held on the evening of the New Moon in January 1966. It was a brilliant starlit night and a heavy frost had made the roads quite dangerous. In spite of this about twelve people turned up at Crabwood Farm House, some coming as much as 15 miles.
Mr Brian Dyas read the Ganaka Moggallana sutta to open the meeting and then a lengthy discussion followed as to the aims and scope of activity of the Group. It was decided that meetings would be held on alternate Friday evenings. Pansil would be taken followed by a tape recording of the Metta Sutta made by the Bhikkhus at the Thai Vihara in London. Group meditation would then be practiced for twenty minutes with a reading from the Buddhist scriptures. After coffee there would be a general discussion.
This pattern has been followed ever since. The Group has about twenty members, usually about eight turn up at the meetings. The members are not all of the Theravada School some are attracted by Tibetan Mahayana & some by the Zen Schools of Japan. Speakers representing the different Schools have been down to talk at the meetings.
A year ago, a series of lectures on Basic Buddhism were given by members of the Group at Southampton University, this aroused a great deal of public interest. Now Public Lectures are given by well known Buddhist Speakers and by Bhikkhus regularly at the University. A permanent Shrine Room and library has now been opened by Phramaha Boonchuay in Southampton. Once a year before Wessac, a few members of the Group give Dana at the Thai Vihara in London. A Tibetan Evening was held last December in order to try and raise funds for two Tibetan Meditation Colleges of the Gelupas order that are in difficulties in India.
There are Group leader conferences held in London attended by representatives of the nineteen small societies scattered over England. The good news of the Buddha-Dhamma is slowly spreading throughout the land. The conversion rate is small but the influence may be great."