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SanghaSeva | Meditation in Action: Links and Books

Spirtuality around the world
Volunteering around the world
Recommended Books





Organisations and Centres for Dharma Practice

These groups or organisations offer silent meditation or engaged dharma.

Dependent Origination – aim to make the phenomenally deep teachings of the dharma accessible to all. Articles, guided meditations and talks, and retreats.

Gaia House – offers Insight Meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition. Our aim is to help people awaken to the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths: Fully knowing suffering; Letting go of the craving that causes suffering; Experiencing the cessation of such craving; Cultivating the Eightfold Path that leads to the end of suffering.

London Insight Meditation– offers a programme of events based in the insight (vipassana) meditation tradition. Together with a group of leading teachers, we explore the modern application of authentic Buddhist teachings in our lives.

Sheffield Insight – offer weekend retreats, day-long retreats and evening courses led by teachers associated with Gaia House retreat centre in Devon. They also offer regular groups to share meditation practice and discussion.

Tovana – offer Meditation retreats in Israel, that encourage the development of serenity, wisdom, and loving-kindness, and point us towards a life of freedom and awakening. All retreats offered on dana.

Nirodha – offer silent meditation retreats, weekly meditation evenings, monthly practice days, and other activities in Finland. The teachings are based on Theravada Buddhism.

Dharma Yatra – A Dharma Yatra is a "pilgrimage," where dharma friends from around the world walk peacefully together.

Le Moulin Meditation Centre – is first and foremost a place 'to be', a place for connection with oneself, with others and with Nature. We offer a beautiful setting, caring supportive conditions, and practices and teachings for awakening our life, awakening to Life itself. (France)

Bodhi Tree Brighton – is a charity that has its roots in the teachings of the Buddha. We run groups and activities where you can learn meditation and explore practice as it relates to daily life. We host workshops on creative themes. There is the opportunity to make connections with others and build supportive spiritual community.

Christopher Titmuss – a former Buddhist monk in Thailand and India, teaches Awakening and Insight Meditation around the world. He gives retreats, participates in pilgrimages (yatras) and leads Dharma gatherings. As well as writing Dharma books and campaigning for peace and other global issues.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship purpose is to help beings liberate themselves from the suffering that manifests in individuals, relationships, institutions, and social systems.

The Prison Phoenix Trust encourages prisoners in the development of their spiritual welfare, through the practices of meditation and yoga, working with silence and the breath.

Angulimala – Working to give spiritual support to Buddhists or those interested in Buddhist practice in prisons. (UK)

Organisations and Centres inspired by Wisdom and Compassion

These inspiring groups or organisations offer engaged activities, but not necessarily opportunities to learn dharma practice.

Engaged Dharma Israel – Working in combination and solidarity with various Palestinian partners on many levels of direct action; peaceful protest, positive actions, tours showing the impacts of the occupation, and supporting health, social and legal progress.
more information about their work

Yellow River Soup Kitchen Based in China serving China, organising and sourcing a variety of projects bringing together people desiring to serve and those in need.

The Mandala TrustUK based NGO working in partnership with a variety of grass roots organisations overseas. Currently active in Southern Africa, Cambodia and India supporting vulnerable children.

The Khuphuka Project – a HIV and AIDS community care and support program serving the uMqatsheni tribal area falling within the Kwa Sani municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. An initiative of Dharmagiri Outreach and The Mandala Trust.

Human Kindness Foundation-Prison Ashram Project – Working with people in prison and helping them when they come out. (USA)

Breaking the Silence – an organisation that collects testimonies from hundreds of Israeli soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories. These testimonies break the soldiers silence and open Israeli eyes to what is happening in their name to the Palestinian people. These interviews are published on their website we also endorse their eye opening tour of Hebron. (Israel)

SEVA – an organisation promoting spiritual service, especially eye care, co-founded by Ram Dass, Dr Larry Brilliant and Wavy Gravy. (USA)

Amida Trust – a Pureland Buddhist sangha offering aid work around the world.

Kiva – a non-profit organisation that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur across the globe. A facilitator of Micro Finance to assist people out of poverty.


Volunteering around the world

Disabled holidays

Vitalise – a national charity providing short breaks and holidays (respite care) for people with physical disabilities and carers.

3Hfund – a charity working to enable those less fortunate to have a memorable and fulfilling holiday.

Break – provides a range of assessment and support services to children at risk via our Residential Family Centre and a range of community based services.

Conservation and Environmental work

Trees for Health – A South Devon organisation working to foster healthy communities and healthy ecosystems through seasonal tree activities.
- TreesForHealth.org

Trees for Life – Reforestation of the scottish highlands.
- TreesForLife.org.uk

The Conservation Volunteers – help hundreds of thousands of people each year to reclaim local green places.
- TCV.org.uk

National Trust – a UK conservation charity, protecting historic places and green spaces, and opening them up for ever, for everyone.

Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 47 Wildlife Trusts working for all species and habitats.

WWOOF international – an international network of volunteering on organic farms.


Recommended Books

Books combining Meditation and Service

Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Divine One)

A Sanskrit text from the Mahabharata epic, which advocates selfless action over goal oriented action as the ideal path to realize Truth.
"Its nice to have Krishna's appeal to duty with me when I work everyday and want to escape. Instead of escaping, I relax into it and and let God come closer to God."
- Jens Lingsberg

Bernie Glassman - Bearing Witness

"Bernie Glassman is an inspiring Zen teacher and activist. This book details his constant reinventing of what it means to practice spirituality. He's offered innovative retreats from Street Retreats where people give it all up, to spending time of inquiry and healing in Auschwitz. The shock factor is huge, and the intention behind the work is real."
- Nathan

Bo Lozoff - We’re all doing time – a guide to getting free

"A playfully written serious exploration of how to practice and get free from the prison of a closed mind."
- Nathan

Joanna Macy and Molly Brown - Coming Back to Life

"Practical wisdom for finding the call to live our way out of denial and despair back to the joy of living. By allowing our healthy responses of grief, anger, and fear to find an honoured place within our psyche, we open from paralysis to creative action."
- Nathan

David Loy - EcoDharma: Buddhist teachings for the Ecological Crisis

"How do we open to our insane situation without losing our minds? This is a book that transforms and applies a deep understanding of the Buddhism of the last 2,500 years to the realities of today. A path of healing, and of liberation for of what Loy calls the Ecosattva: one who lives to radically free all beings."
- Nathan

David Loy - Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution

"If your love for radical change ever feels unrooted from your heart, this is a slowing down from anger and reactivity into deep hearted action for the benefit of all. Loy is willing to go deep and profound to gather us from where ever we may be, and light the path to help make us and Buddhism relevant and worthy of survival."
- Nathan

Dido Dunlop - Storm Weathering - A Work book for Inner and Outer Climate

"This book uses buddhist principles and nature imagery to work with both emotional storms within and the storms of climate change. There are tools and exercises to help people stay inspired and motivated and not overcome by despair and powerlessness. Very interesting and inspiring and practical."
- Jan Seed

Ken Jones - The Social Face of Buddhism

"Bringing the social-political aspect to spiritual life makes it more human. The goal of the spiritual life is not just to become a less flawed human, but to become humanity: to be truly humane is to be awake in the world; to live for the benefit of all. A great exploration that takes us from the common human misunderstandings of what we see and feel the world to be, into a life of meaning and decency."
- Nathan

Ken Wilber - Grace and Grit

"A moving tale of facing death and difficulty with honesty and sprit. This is a book that is an inspiration for all those who wish to embrace life, while opening to the truth of our fragility and inner strength."
- Nathan

Larry Brilliant - Sometimes Brilliant

"Is brilliant. Lots of anecdotes about Neem Karoli Baba and great insight into helping. Plus he has had a remarkable life."
- Tom Riddle

Larry Yang - Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community

"The fundamental principle of awakening from non-wisdom includes ignorance, prejudice, and racism. Although we may not feel we suffer from these, a book like this can reveal to us our blind spots. By the very nature of not knowing what we don’t know, it can be hard to know where to look. In compassionate ways this book calls us to more compassionate ways of being."
- Nathan

Olyan Trinley Dorge - The Sevententh Karmapa - Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society

"The Karmapa is a title bestowed on one who is the protector of the world. That may seem a grandiose title, yet this delightful and humble empowering book carries the message we are all Karmapas. The fate of the world is not separate from the way we live in it, which is not separate from how we understand it to be. Exploring identity and action in relation to the stories of our time, this is a call to awaken to our interconnectedness, and to live it."
- Nathan

Ram Dass - How Can I Help? & Grist for the Mill

"Reading Ram Dass is a joy, he is one of the most articulate and entertaining people teaching, writing and talking about the way of bringing a profound awakening into all of your life. A man who has dedicated his own life to practice, service and sharing he is an inspiration to us all at SanghaSeva. How Can I Help is a must read."
- Nathan

Ram Dass & Mirabai Bush - Compassion in Action

"Another great book that inspires me to live the life I wish to live"
- Nathan

Stephen Levine - Who Dies?, Healing into Life and Death, Meetings at the Edge

"Stephen Levine is a poet and a great soul. With humble eloquence he brings you into his world, and inspires us to go forth into our own with renews energy to love and serve. Having spent decades working with the dying, his insights, which he readily shares, offer us a light into what it means to live fully, and die awake. Start with Who Dies? and I'm pretty sure you'll be back for more."
- Nathan

Books about Service

Charles Eisenstein - The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible

"Full of wise insights and sense about the way we often fall into the traps set by 'the story of separation' even after we've heard the better story of 'interbeing'. But it also covers plenty of other ground in a series of short chapters."
- Paul Batten

Gandhi - My experiments with Truth
The life of Gandhi, probably the most famous attempt to live a life of non-violence. He set a high bench-mark on what it means to contemplate, realise and live the fullness of human potential."
- Nathan

Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin - Three cups of tea

This book is about one mans' dedication and NGO work in Pakistan and Afghanistan building schools in remote areas with a focus on providing education for girls.
"This is a totally inspiring book and deeply moving."
- Lizzie Jacobs
Please bear in mind this book has been questioned for it's accurate documentation of fact, and for a low percentage of money raised by the NGO getting to the schools.

Natacha Calestreme - Les Heros de la Nature

A collection of accounts of conservation work with endangered species. (French)
"It tells about selfless service and courage, and says in its beautiful way how any form of life is precious, beautiful and worth being protected and respected."
- Kevin Dancelme

Neesha Mirchandani - Wisdom Song

The Life of Baba Amte; founder of Anandwan.
"One of the best books about the man who inspired us at SanghaSeva to aim for a life of service and contemplation. Hope you can find a copy."
- Nathan

Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan - The Prison Angel

Mother Antonia's journey from Beverly Hills to a life of service in a Mexican jail.
(recommended by Lizzie Jacobs)

Rachel Naomi Remen - In the Service of Life

A short online text about the beauty of service in comparison to the more distant act of helping or even fixing. "I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul. They may look similar if you're watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different, too."
(recommended by Kevin Dancelme.)

Books about Meditation

Rob Burbea - Seeing That Frees

"I feel there has been no clearer elucidation of the path of liberation than what Rob has put forth in this book. Every page feels essential to the examination of the emptiness of all phenomena of existence. Combining deep penetrative explorations and practical meditative applications to follow, this is a book for all dedicated practitioners of the Dharma."
- Nathan

Sharon Salzberg - Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

"This book helped me open my heart. Yup. A while ago I did a solo-ten-day meditation retreat where I did a lot of the exercises that Sharon describes in this book. When the retreat ended I found that I had fewer judgements, more acceptance, and well, more forgiveness and happiness. If you think that you can never forgive the people who have hurt you, or yourself, don't give up. Read this book and do the exercises; open your heart."
- Tom Riddle

Charlotte Joko Beck - Everyday Zen: Love & Work

"Charlotte Beck was an American housewife until she discovered Zen. This book is written in very straightforward non-technical language for any style of meditation. The book can be very inspirational. It begins like this; 'My dog doesn't worry about the meaning of life. She may worry if she doesn't get her breakfast, but she doesn't sit around worrying about whether she will get fully liberated or enlightened. As long as she gets some food and a little affection, her life is fine. But we human beings are not like dogs. We have self-centered minds which get us into plenty of trouble. If we do not come to understand the error in the way we think, our self-awareness, which is our greatest blessing, is also our downfall.' "
- Tom Riddle

Pema Chodron - Start Where You Are, The Wisdom of No Escape, The Places that Scare You

"I have no preference between these three books, they are all excellent, as is everything she has written. They are imbued with a humility and honesty that wakes me up to the nature of existence. It is lovely to read these text, which are mostly edited transcribed talks, they amaze with seemingly effortless grace."
- Nathan

Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) - With Each and Every Breath

"An in-depth and thorough description of the path of concentration utilising the always present breath. This book will clarify the practice for experienced meditators, yet also includes the tools and techniques necessary for someone starting out. Thanissaro Bhikkhu is clearly a master of meditation, of language, and of the gift for explaining complexity with penetrating simplicity."
- Nathan

Stephen Batchelor - Buddhism without Beliefs

"An excellent introduction to meditation and contemplation practices unburdened by historical and linguistic baggage. Stephen Batchelor, although trained in Buddhist monasteries, boldly offers an extricated teachings from the teacher, aiming to provide the essential and leave the unessential aside."
- Nathan

Stephen Levine - A Gradual Awakening, Turning towards the Mystery

"A Gradual Awakening was one of the first books I read and felt a real sense of kinship to the author. I am deeply moved by a path that resonates with this poet's motivation and encouragement."
- Nathan

Help make these lists more comprehensive. If you know of a book you feel should be on the above lists, or one that shouldn't, please let us know. We will love to share that here.