Aims and Brief History of the German Buddhist Union (DBU)
Since 1903 we can observe activities of Buddhists in Germany. It was in 1955 when some 43 German Buddhists met in Frankfurt to found the „German Buddhist Society“ which was renamed in 1958 in our present „German Buddhist Union“ (DBU). In 1975 the DBU became a founding member of the „Buddhist Union of Europe“ (EBU) and since 1961 it is a Regional Centre of the „World Fellowship of Buddhists“ (WFB).
The German Buddhist Union is a platform where Buddhists from all traditions and schools meet and develop understanding and appreciation for the variety and diversity of Buddhist theory and practice. In 1985 a unique Buddhist declaration was developed (revised in 2004) which is accepted by all traditions in the DBU.
It is difficult to estimate the actual number of Buddhists in Germany, as many of them practice in private or are only loosely connected to one of the more than 600 Buddhist groups in our country. There are some 120.000 Buddhists of Asian origins living in Germany, most of them Vietnamese refugees, some from Thailand, Taiwan, Cambodia, Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. We estimate about 130.000 Buddhists of German origin. They generally practice in different groups. There are occasions like Vesakh where members of ethnic and German groups meet and co-operate. Some few groups have both Asian and German members. However, the contacts are growing more intensive in the last years.
Currently, there are 64 (2015) member-societies of the DBU, some of them having many branches all over Germany. For a list of all member-societies (German language), please have a closer look at the page www.buddhismus-deutschland.de under DBU-Mitgliedsgemeinschaften. The DBU manages a database of over 600 Buddhist groups all over Germany, which can help interested people to find a group in their region. The groups organize meditation classes, Dharma talks, retreats, study groups, celebrations, teachers training and other events.
In addition the DBU is also open to individual members, who want to support Buddhism in Germany. Currently there are over 2400 individual members. The yearly membership fee starts from 40 Euro and includes the subscription of our quarterly „Buddhismus aktuell“ .
Since 1986 the DBU has a national office where information, brochures, programs and the quarterly „Buddhismus aktuell“ (formerly „Lotusblätter“) can be obtained and which helps to organize and coordinate local and national events together with the different Buddhist centers and groups. The quarterly „Buddhismus aktuell“ offers a wide range of articles on all Buddhist traditions. It also includes Buddhist news, book reviews and a list the member societies. It has some 3500 subscribers and sells altogether around 7000 copies of each issue. Since 2005 it is also available in selected newspaper shops at the main railway stations of Germany. See www.buddhismus-aktuell.de (in German).
Since 1955 the DBU meets for the annual plenary session in spring and since 1985 it holds a Buddhist Convention every other year in fall, open to the general public. DBU council members, delegates of the member societies, Buddhist teachers and friends from all traditions meet for short speeches, guided meditations and inspiring discussions on teaching and practice of Buddhism in a Western country. Please, find further information (in German) at: www.buddhismus-deutschland.de/kongressuebersicht.
There is a growing readiness for local groups to join together to hold regional Dharma days with Dharma talks, guided meditations, films on Buddhism and discussion groups. These events have proven to be very inspiring for the participating Buddhist groups and for the interested „non-Buddhist“ public who find great inspiration in this harmonious co-operation of Buddhists of different traditions.
The most important regional event is the celebration of Vesakh, the most important Buddhist holiday, commemorating the enlightenment of Buddha. It is celebrated around May/June in various places in Germany.
Since March 2004 a study program including all Buddhist traditions has been implemented. The study program is open to all Buddhists, who want to deepen their knowledge. See => here on our website for more information about our study program (in German).
Council of the DBU
The council of the DBU consists of eleven members elected by the delegates of the member-groups. Their period of office is three years. They work on honorary (dana) basis. The council elects the three chairpersons out of its members.
The list of the members of the council of the DBU, who coordinate the different activities, can be found on the DBU webpage under Kontakt.
Representative for the „Buddhist Union of Europe“ (EBU):
For further information please contact the office of the DBU.
I take refuge to the Buddha as my unsurpassed teacher. He has realized perfection and the way to freedom and enlightenment on his own. From this experience he has laid down his teaching, so that we can also become definitively free from suffering.
I take refuge to the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha. It is clear, timeless and invites everybody to examine, apply and realize it.
I take refuge to the Sangha, the community of all those, who are following the path of the Buddha and realize the different steps of inner experience and awakening.
I strongly trust in the Four Noble Truths:
- Life in the circle of rebirth is ultimately full of suffering.
- The causes of suffering are greed, hatred and delusion.
- Cessation of the cause means cessation of suffering.
- The noble eightfold path leads to the cessation of suffering.
I strongly trust in the teaching of the Buddha:
- All compounded is impermanent.
- All compounded is suffering.
- All is without an independent self.
- Nirvana is freedom.
I declare my support to the unity of all Buddhists and meet all members of this community with respect and openness. We follow the Buddha, our common teacher and make effort to realize his teaching. Ethical behavior, concentration and wisdom are leading to freedom and enlightenment.
I train myself:
- not to kill or harm any living being,
- not to take what has not been given to me,
- not to commit unwholesome sexual actions,
- not to speak in an unwholesome and untruthful way,
- not to dull my consciousness with intoxicating substances.
I will develop unlimited compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity towards all beings, knowing that all beings seek happiness.
Deutsche Buddhistische Union e.V. – Buddhistische Religionsgemeinschaft
Tel. +49 89 4520693-0
Fax +49 89 452069329