The Friends of Buddhism Foundation (Stichting Vrienden van het Buddhisme -VvB) was established in November 1967 under the name Stichting Nederlands Buddhistisch Centrum (SNBC) and stood at the cradle of two other Buddhist organisations: the Buddhist Union Netherlands (BUN) and the Netherlands Buddhist Archive (NBA).
Their own roots lie in the first Dutch organised Buddhist group, the ‘Nederlandse Buddhistische Vriendenkring’ (the ‘Dutch Buddhist Circle of Friends’) (NBV), founded in 1948. On 8 November 1967, Peter van der Beek founded the SNBC, to which the ‘Circles of Friends’ of the NBV joined. Eight years later the European Buddhist Union (EBU) was set up in Paris. The EBU was a union of national Buddhist umbrella organisations without individual members. The SNBC received an invitation to join, but was not an umbrella organisation and did not want to become one. Therefore, on 25 June 1978, a separate Buddhist Union Netherlands (BUN) was established as a cooperative body of a number of Buddhist groups, starting with eight from the SNBC. The centre function was to split off from SNBC with the establishment of the BUN, and in December 1978 the name of the foundation was changed to Stichting Vrienden van het Buddhisme (SVB), now referred to as VvB. In 1990, the BUN was registered as a legal entity in the form of an association of which the VvB itself remained a member until 2018.
In 2017, the VvB celebrated its 50th anniversary. At the beginning of this jubilee, the Board of the VvB, in particular its chairman Prof. Rob Janssen, reflected on the future of
the foundation. The central question was how the foundation could and should remain relevant for the coming decades in the light of its objectives. Janssen had a vision that required administrative and policy changes for which he himself, due to his advanced age and health, could no longer muster the attention and energy. Since 1997 he and his partner Jan de Breet have been translating the Pali Canon and this work was his priority. The latter also applied to De Breet, treasurer of the Friends. For him too, translation was, and remained, his main activity within the foundation.
Rob Janssen then approached André Kalden, former president of the BUN who had brought stability to the BUN during a stormy period, to become his successor as chairman. André Kalden showed himself honoured and, after some insistence, motivated. As only condition for taking over the chairman’s gavel and the desired recruitment of new board members, he asked Prof. Janssen to setup a clear roadmap with him and the board. Our policy plan beleidsplan 2020-2023 [in Dutch] reflects this road map.