Project « Sangha in transition »

Project « Sangha in transition »

« Initiatives in transition » what is it about ?

It is an answer to the peak oil(1), the repeating economic crises and global warming issues. How should we react to these shocks in the most possible fluid and resilient(2) way?

An ever-growing number of people feel that there is something that isn’t right in our lifestyle, that things might get worse, that this type of lifestyle is at the origin of the troubles mentioned. Even if it took years, scientists have ended up by declaring that human activity is the cause of global warming.

transition network

It all started with a small group that gathered around a teacher of permaculture(3), Rob Hopkins, in the small town of Totnes (in Southern England), they wanted to find local ideas to live harmoniously with our environment and be ready to face the coming shocks. In response to the success of their initiative named « Totnes in transition », Rob Hopkins wrote a manual for the use of other districts, villages, towns inspired by their actions.

The initiatives in transition present an original model based on: a local, positive, collective approach and especially open to everyone, in order to get some action done and build the world we want without delay.

So far, there are about 450 initiatives officially recorded in « the Transition (social) Network » and a good thousand under preparation. Of course there is no need to be acknowledged by the official network to inspire oneself by the current initiatives.

« Inner Transition »

A specific trend is growing in the midst of certain initiatives in transition, bringing to the movement further elements of environmental psychology and profound ecology. Here it is not the fear or social ethics which are at the origin of the action but what they call « green-consciousness », the heart of the human being, its deep nature. We call it: « Buddha nature ».

ABZE, Sangha in transition

The initiatives in transition-model can be applied to any community. Generally speaking it concerns territory communities (districts, villages, towns, valleys, islands) but there is nothing against trying in our own community: the Sangha.

We have a multiple particularity :

  • The source of our action is zazen and our vows of bodhisattva ;
  • We are gathered in small communities not living around the clock under the same roof, yet often getting together. As far as the dojos are concerned, they are spaces exclusively reserved to our practice ;
  • We get together for week ends, sesshin, camps during which we form a real community with its specific life style: samu, practice of the kai ;
  • We spend the rest of the time with our families, at our workplace where we also want to pursue our practice as bodhisattva.


This project proposes to think together about initiatives, actions, commitments which could be proposed in order to live in a more environment-respectful way and gather energy wherever we are either in sesshin or at the dojo. And beyond that, we could try to materialize the ideas we have gathered into initiatives within the family, at work, in our cities and villages.

What are we going to do?

Find a little group of highly motivated people to take part in this project.

Then, draw up, from the existing transition manuals, a model tailored to fit our practice of Zen.

We will make use of zazen days, sesshins, camps (either before they start or during rest-times), to meet and present our project, as well as to take a stock on its progress.

We can organize workshops in our dojos and even organize week-ends of practice including workshops on the subject.

The bottom line is to get together, preferably life, or through electronic means (like forums) in order to exchange on what we already do that is positive and that could inspire others. Or about what actions could be improved at the dojo or individually in different fields i.e.: eating, clothing, energy and water saving, waste recycling, common vegetable gardens, free spaces… The list is endless.

As announced, following the Workshop on Profound Ecology at the summer camp of Maredsous, we are planning to use both the forum and the website to display the list of ideas and proposed actions, with a « google map » highlighting the locations where some initiatives are coming into life.

Projects stepstones :

  • Informing on the starting up of a project: article in the winter ABZE Newsletter, e-mails to the ABZE dojos ;
  • Setting up of core group: a project team highly motivated ;
  • Launching of a forum, or another means of dialogue, on the project;nbsp;;
  • Publication of a manual « Sangha in Transition » ;
  • First workshops ;
  • Articles on the ABZE website and insertion of a Google Map.

Contact : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(1) Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to decline as a result of shortage of oil reserves (Wikipedia)

(2) Resilience generally means the ability of an organism, a group or a structure to adapt to changing environment and to resume or recover a normal functioning or development from some shock or disturbance.

(3) Permaculture is an agricultural system and principles that seek to integrate harmoniously and ethically human activity with the natural surroundings, working with nature and not against it, within self-sustaining ecosystems.

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