Some folk who hear about Drala Jong assume all the art that will be created and performed there will be from an unfamiliar cultural context – either obviously overtly Buddhist, or inspired by Asian and Oriental influences. This pre judgement leads to the conclusion that somehow Drala Jong won’t be accessible to everyone, but just those who want to explore Buddhist practice.

In actuality, we’re proud that in fact Drala Jong will be about exploring and expanding all the senses and sense fields, and engaging with art in every way it might manifest. Our intention is to make the centre relevant to anyone who enjoys art, craft, or the simple joy of living – whether inspired by East or West, whether modern, or traditional. An example of this is embracing classical forms of dance, in particular 18th century dance.

I was fortunate enough to watch a performance by The Renaissance Historical Dance Society whilst on holiday recently. Some of the performers are shown here. Drala Jong will provide a venue where we can invite a myriad of artists, crafts people and living history enthusiasts to share their passions.

This is not a mere whimsy on our part. Buddhist practice is not about the stereotypes of ‘vegetarianism’ or ‘being terribly nice to people’. It is about a myriad of human qualities, including dealing with people and the world at large in a genuine, authentic way; about poise, and grace, dignity and respect; courtesy and generosity of spirit. These qualities can be found in a host of forms within modern secular life, as well as within Buddhism (witness the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Shambhala lineage). These qualities can also be found within 18th century English dance.