Spirit of Brixton: Stella Duffy, author

I’ve practiced the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin with the Soka Gakkai International since 1986. I live in Loughborough Junction and practice in my own home and the homes of my fellow Buddhists. Ours is a chanting, energetic practice that places its emphasis on attaining Buddhahood – enlightenment – in this lifetime. We believe that through chanting, studying, and discussing together, we can clarify our understanding of everyday situations, make better choices, and live more fully in the world. We’re not chanting for a better place after death, but to live as well as we can in the present, and especially for a peaceful world.

Our practice does not have a priesthood, and is run by lay members, in hundreds of countries all over the world. We practice in small local districts – often meeting in each others’ homes. We also have several centres in the UK, one of them in Bernays Grove, just behind Morleys, where we hold larger study and introductory meetings.

As a writer and theatre director, my practice helps me enormously. Spiritually of course, but on a much more mundane level too. Because I work freelance, my life lacks the regularity of a daily workplace, chanting morning and evening gives me both a rhythm to my day and a chance to check in with myself, with the part of me from which my creativity wells up – and to (hopefully!) use that in my work.

There is another benefit that anyone with a regular faith practice in their own area will know – through my practice I meet people who live and work where I do, who represent the same wide cross-section of  life you’d see any day, walking down Coldharbour Lane. My practice connects me to my community. Neighbours have become Buddhist friends, Buddhist friends are neighbours, and even though I often work out of London, I’m grateful to have a daily connection to my home when I chant.

If you’d like to know more, or to come to an introductory meeting, contact us at the South London National Centre, 020-7978-8334 www.sgi-uk.org

Stella Duffy is a writer, theatre director and performer. She has published thirteen novels, over fifty short stories and ten plays. She is the Artistic Director of Shaky Isles Theatre and also directs freelance for many other companies.