“Holding to nothing whatever” was the theme of this year’s Buddhafield festival. It’s usually based in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, near Taunton in Somerset, with roots in the Triratna Buddhist Community.
I attended the gathering in person in 2015, which was also my first experience of camping and when the photographs in this blog post were taken. I’ve been on annual leave from work this past week so when I heard the festival was being held virtually this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it felt like a great opportunity to get involved once again.
The festival was held over five days, utilising technology with the likes of Zoom and Facebook live broadcasts. I’ve particularly enjoyed the talks, meditation sessions and musical performances. Personal highlights were sets from the band Hands of the Heron as well as soloist Susie Ro.
Although viewing over a screen, the sense of connectivity with others was still very much felt. The opening and closing ceremonies being memorable for this, with people joining in for the mantra. What struck me was that a sense of community is so much bigger than just our locality. A reflection that’s particularly pertinent during lockdown.
Some attendees commented that lockdown has felt like an enforced retreat for them. Another called it ‘the long pause’ – a lovely analogy that describes what quarantine has done for many of us, by offering time to re-evaluate our lives. For me, one of the positives is that it’s allowed a deeper connection to nature.
My first experience at Buddhafield, five years ago, has stuck with me because of the powerful spirituality that I felt. This was not lost by transferring online and I shall remember this year’s festival for the inspiration, innovation and compassion shown from everyone involved.
(All photographs taken at Buddhafield 2015.)