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What do I need to know about specific faiths?


Of acquisitions, good health is the foremost. Of wealth, the greatest is peace of mind. Of kinsmen, the trustworthy are the supreme. The highest bliss is Nibbàna.

Life is precious and death is certain. Do not waste your precious life in harming yourself or others. Use it wisely to cultivate compassion and wisdom, and to benefit all sentient beings.

If you are feeling suicidal, please do not act on your impulses. Seek help from a professional, a friend, a family member, or a spiritual teacher. There is always hope and there is always a way out of your pain. You are not alone and you are not hopeless. You have the Buddha nature within you, and you can awaken to your true potential.

These pages were developed in conversation with representatives of different faith traditions in the UK. They are not reflective of all beliefs held by adherents of these faiths. Groupings and denominations within faith traditions are incredibly diverse and varied, and these pages do not comprehensively address the spectrum of views and positions held within each faith community.

These pages are focused on how adherents to different faiths may understand life challenges and access pastoral support structures. Their focus is therefore on public, rather than private, worship practices, and they do not give a comprehensive overview of beliefs or worship practices across different faith traditions.


The following content is intended to offer information on when, where and how Buddhists might access community-based support. It should not be treated as guidance on how to engage with the Buddhist community.

How is life, suffering, and death understood within the Buddhist faith?





When do Buddhists gather / connect?

The Buddhist community is a very diverse group in terms of belief, practice and cultural background. This should be noted when considering where individuals may seek to access support.

Places of workshop and practice like temples, monasteries, viharas and centres may be attended by practicing Buddhists at various times for meditation, offerings (dana), listening to teachings (Dharma) and other activities and programmes, such as yoga. There is no set time to attend the temple for Buddhists.

Some Buddhists observe Uposatha, or a day of resting, listening to and discussing Buddhist teachings, and meditation. The timing and frequency of Uposatha are determined by the lunar calendar. Buddhists may be more likely to attend temples or monasteries to make offerings, or dana, on these days.

Many Buddhists take part in retreats, to spend time with other Buddhists away from everyday life, meditate and study.

They also gather for key calendar dates, such as Vesak (celebration of the life of the Buddha) in late Spring, Founder’s Day (Spring), Obon/Ulambana (Summer), Kathina (Autumn), Jodo-e on December 8th, Losar (late Winter) and Parinirvana (late Winter), among others. 

Where do Buddhists gather / connect?

Buddhists may practice at home or in a dedicated building, including places of worship and practice like monasteries, temples, viharas, centres, and others

There are over 100 temples and monasteries (viharas) in the UK, ranging from purpose-built structures to converted houses and other repurposed buildings.

Larger temples and monasteries may also house community spaces such as libraries, study rooms and dining halls. They may offer additional programmes of educational and cultural activities that can be accessed by anyone interested.

Buddhanet provides a searchable database of Buddhist temple/centres/groups in the UK and worldwide. However, note that this list in not necessarily complete or up to date:

Alternatively, enquiries may be directed to The Buddhist Society in London.

If a Buddhist wanted to access faith-based wellbeing support, how and where might they do this?

Buddhist principles of sangha (community) and Kalyana Mitta (“spiritual friend”) emphasise the importance of mutual support and walking alongside one another as a means of accessing guidance, accountability and encouragement. Many Buddhists will look to their communities, both lay and monastic, when facing life challenges and seeking spiritual growth.

Some people may attend the temple specifically to seek guidance from trained clergy, such as monks, nuns or other leaders. Some Buddhist clergy may have additional training in mental health, but this is not the case across the board.

Some larger temples or monasteries run meditation courses that aim to reduce anxiety and stress and encourage positivity. Others may run mindfulness classes, or courses aimed at specific life challenges, such as depression, addiction, and bereavement.

Chaplaincy is available as a means of support in some institutions and workplaces, but Buddhist chaplaincy is not currently as widely available as is provision for other faith traditions.

The Buddhist Society has an ad-hoc mailbox available for the purpose of advising on chaplaincy.

Additional content

7 safeguarding and challenging factors for Buddhists around mental health and suicide prevention.

7 safeguarding factors

  1. The principle of ahimsa (avoidance of violence to living things), which is the 1st precept.
  2. Belief in karma resulting from intentional actions. Recognition that these actions can result in favourable or unfavourable outcomes.
  3. Devotional practices such as ‘going for refuge’ to archetypal figures such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  4. The practice of meditation/embodied awareness (involving acceptance, letting go, “beginner’s mind” and development of gratitude).
  5. The importance of sangha (community) and Kalyana Mittas (good friends) walking alongside us.
  6. The view of the ‘self’ as a constantly changing, relational process rather than fixed, ‘solid’ or standalone.
  7. The belief that the way out of suffering is through it, not trying to avoid it (‘spiritual bypassing’).

7 challenging factors

Factors stemming from misinterpretation of practices and teachings:
  1. Misunderstandings about rebirth, such as:
    1. Considering rebirth to be an escape route from troubles;
    2. Seeking to be reborn as a ‘blank slate’;
    3. The belief that ‘I’ will be reborn.
  2. Liberally interpreting ethical guidelines on the basis that nothing is ‘real’.
  3. Looking for ‘magical’ solutions in Buddhist teachings, or ‘spiritual bypassing’. E.g., the use of meditational practices to try to avoid suffering rather than walking through ‘the fires of purification’.
  4. Overconfidence in certain spiritual practices and beliefs, such as:
    1. People believing that they are ‘insightful’ or awakened, and therefore beyond the laws of karma;
    2. Believing that chanting the name of ‘Amithaba’ in the last few moments of life will ensure passage to the ‘Western Paradise’, where there will be favourable conditions for awakening;
    3. Overconfidence in managing Bardo experiences (intermediate phase before rebirth).
Socio-cultural factors associated with Buddhism:
  1. The embrace of Buddhism in some Western contexts as a way of self-medicating.
  2. Factors associated with migration:
    1. Many Buddhists are first-or second-generation migrants and may experience cultural or social displacement;
    2. Second and third generations may feel alienated from parents’ or grandparents’ culture, yet still struggle to integrate into British society;
    3. Alienation or displacement experienced by people of East Asian origin due to certain public perceptions of mainland China.
  3. Health and wellbeing inequalities experienced by Gurkhas and their families, including trauma from military engagement, poor health, financial insecurity in retirement and feelings of isolation or lack of belonging.

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