20 Nov 2023

By Comms Team

‘Peace does not need to be quiet’ – delivering an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

On the 10th November 2023 a group of 6 representatives of Plum Village UK Community gathered in front of No 10, Downing Street, to hand in a letter to the British Prime Minister with a call for peace and brokering non-violent peaceful solutions to the current war in the Middle East. 

The letter, which is a collective outcome of the input from Dharma teachers and community, has been endorsed by nearly 1000 practitioners, UK Dharma Teachers and our Trustees. A deep bow of gratitude to everyone who contributed their energy to this, and to Teri and rehena who led the writing process.

Below you can read reflections including those from the London Sanghas who were present on the day of the letter delivery: Patricia, Renuka, Agnieszka, rehena, Bernard and a supporter Richard. The final version of the letter is at available to view at the bottom of this post.

“As an apprentice Dharma teacher, while aware of the training that encourages us not to engage in politics, but at the same to speak out about injustice, working together with Rehena to compose a letter from our own community seemed a great way to practise our respected teacher’s commitment to engagement in the world.

I bow in gratitude – to dear Thay, to our Dharma teachers and Trustees, to our Core Community and extended community, who added their names to our letter.” Teri, True Door of Virtue, Dharma Teacher

“One of the reasons I was attracted to the PV tradition was the engaged Buddhism aspect. I was pleased to be able to support PV friends to deliver the letter and petition to no.10, as its heart breaking to see the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis. Those in power need to push for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks, let’s hope this happens soon. If it doesn’t, our call for action must continue.” Rich, Heart of London, Sangha Member

“I took a small photo from my altar of Thay smiling with the  gatha “Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World” to Downing Street. At the entrance the security guard looked at me with the photo, and asked “Who is he?” We collectively replied, “Our teacher” and I offered some additional explanations. He indicated that I could not visibly display the photo because he was a dead unknown person.  Walking mindfully to the door I feel that Thay would have smiled at this situation and would have told us that now we have become him.  That day, we embodied his teachings, we learnt from him and his experience in Vietnam and know that he lives within each of us. That day, Thay also walked with us to the front door and handed in the  petition for Peace.” Patricia, True Refuge Oak, OI Member

“The walk to no.10 Downing Street was a profound experience of taking sacred action for peace with fellow sangha siblings.  My experience was interwoven with meaningful synchronicities that unfolded before me.

Before entering, I led a meditation, under a Plane tree, for us to connect peacefully, amidst the tourists jostling for a photo of No 10. I was also able to practise letting go when I could not find my photo ID.

 I walked mindfully to the door of No 10, each step filled with heartfelt peace and openness and supported by the solidarity accompanying us. All around us was  the auspicious call of the Muslim “Friday prayers” from the protestors for Afghanistan. 

At  no.10, rehena stepped forward, bowed in prayer, and knocked loudly on the large black door. The door opened and  rehena introduced us “as “ a peace delegation of Buddhist practitioners.” The doorkeeper took  the document and responded “for peaceful Buddhists that was a very loud knock” to which rehena replied “peace does not need to be quiet.”

The knock was a wake up call! A reminder that the call for a ceasefire and peace comes with thundering power, to stop the unspeakable devastation and destruction of life unfolding.” Renuka, True Direction of Opening,  OI member

As a child I bowed joyfully to all things in respect, I grew up as a black person bowed under the weight of oppression during the apartheid regime of South Africa. And now I bow to honour and respect the continuation of life.

I bowed in front of door of No 10 Downing Street, in honour of my ancestors who were forced to bow to the decisions made on the other side of this unpretentious black door. I bowed in acknowledgement of all our spiritual, land and genetic ancestors, who despite their human flaws, tried to leave a better legacy for those coming after. I bowed in honour of the Buddha and our teacher, Thay who showed us how to respect and offer compassion to all beings.

I bowed calling on the energy of the earth and all my ancestors ancestors to witness our collective intention to leave a better place for generations to come – one that is caring, just and peaceful. 

May I continue bowing to compassionately walk in the footsteps of Thay, my ancestors and may I always serve in life with love. 

And then I knocked ……for compassion, justice and peace for us all!rehena, True Deep Source, OI Member

Acknowledgements to the Metropolitan Police stationed at 10 Downing Street for supporting us through the processes taking the photos.