Both before and after World War II, many Buddhist practitioners in Poland came together establishing informal groups. The first organized Buddhist groups appeared in Poland in mid 1970s. Their development slowly led to the establishment of formally registered Buddhist religious associations.
Despite the diversity of traditions and organizational forms, Buddhist associations were connected by a common doctrinal basis. On this ground, cooperation was possible. It started in late 1970s from exchanging information, celebrating certain Buddhist holy days together, helping each other in organizing the visits of teachers.
The beginning of 1980s saw regular meetings of the leaders of Buddhist groups, called the “intersangha”, which later turned into the so-called “mahasangha” with clear rules of functioning. With time, its activity proved insufficient. Naturally, the need arose to institutionalize this cooperation. As a result, the Polish Buddhist Union was established.
The Union is an inter-church organization entered by the Department of Religions at the Prime Minister’s Office to section “B” of the registry of churches and other religious associations on 09.05.1995. This is one of the five organizations of this kind in Poland. In January 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama took honorary patronage over the Union.
The Polish Buddhist Union gathers eight of Buddhist religious groups in Poland. It’s main objective is common representation toward the State and other churches and religious groups, as well as on the forum of international Buddhist organizations. Furthermore, the Union’s task is to coordinate cooperation between Buddhist associations and broadly understood activity for the society. The Union also extends its aid to some Buddhist groups who do not hold the status of a registered religious association.
Following the rule of showing respect to all religions, representatives of the Union participate in many inter-faith meetings, often combined with common prayers and meditations. Cooperating with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Union co-organized the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2000.