December 2001 – February 2002
Jane Coskry, mother of three and champion of the homeless, has been inching her way towards bodhisattva-hood since she read a book by Christmas Humphreys with Buddha on the front cover when she was 11. Jane, who now manages accommodation projects for young people in Essex, UK, has had 16 years of helping the socially excluded, asylum seekers, homeless families and (soon) teenage mothers and babies in a deprived area. She and Alison Murdoch, Jamyang Buddhist Centre’s director, also put together a training session around stress, safety and support issues for the National Homeless Alliance.
I talked my way into university to do a Philosophy degree by debating Buddhism with a former Jesuit monk. While I was at university, I took a job as a housing benefits assessor. The following 13 years as a project worker for a local authority in reception centers for homeless families and individuals were real Dharma practice.
I actually spent a while avoiding Buddhism until I made sure I had looked at everything else. But deep down [and after a few years of depression following the sudden death of her hen she was 17] I knew I would find what I needed in the Dharma, and began to learn meditation with The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. I also enrolled in the Buddhist Society’s correspondence course. I read everything I could find about meditation and consciousness and did a diploma in psychotherapy and hypnosis around my shifts at work.
Then I began to move towards Tibetan Buddhism, and eventually found myself sitting in Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Finsbury Park, London, having tea with John Feuille, probably around 1990. After months of gazing at pictures of His Holiness, and attending teachings, I finally decided I’d better go to his teachings in Dharamsala, which I first did in 1994….socially engaged buddhism