Introducing James Bampfield

Please meet James Bampfield, Master of Ceremony at the Festival, workshop facilitator, and one of our core team members. For James, who discovered the Festival in 2015, the Festival “is a place to go deep – within oneself, in connection with the other, in connection with the big mystery.

Born in the UK, (1964) James had a traditional English middle-upper class upbringing: upright family, private boarding school, academia, sport. He excelled at school, winning a scholarship to Cambridge University, and played cricket for his province. He played the society game well, but he was also skeptical from an early age: “Is this all there is, what I see around me? Is this the best humans can do?”

James was intensely interested in the big questions: “Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is spirituality?” Constantly inquisitive and always prepared to go his own way – with or without the establishment’s blessing.

By the time he was 17, he had an Indian guru, had started meditating, and was attending therapeutic group workshops. Even while studying at Cambridge after the football match each weekend, he would head for a nearby ashram to receive a very different kind of education.

Once he graduated, he abandoned completely the path laid out for him through British society. He had just 2 goals: inner and outer journeys. The next 10 years he spent either in spiritual communities or traveling round the world. He lived in various European countries, West Africa, Australia, India, Japan, USA, finding work as a teacher wherever he went, or simply absorbing the local culture.

In these years, while participating in every self-development or spiritual workshop he could find, he also started giving workshops himself. The whole world of groups, workshops, and seminars was enormously attractive to him. This was the intimate, sacred space he had always longed for – a context where people could explore the big questions together, go through the fire of learning together, develop a more meaningful life together.

He also found out how to survive out in the world. He would often take huge risks, arriving in unknown countries with very little money, always alone, forced to connect with people, having to be creative to get by. Never mind Cambridge, this was the school of life.

At the age of 33, he finally decided it was time to channel all his life-learning into work. He went back to school to study facilitation and organizational development. Since then, for the last 17 years he has worked as a consultant and facilitator, helping hundreds of people in the art of personal and organizational change. Multi-nationals, large Belgian companies, NGO’s, KMO’s, whoever feels the wind of change. Clients have included, Johnson and Johnson, Colruyt, Torfs, JBC, Durabrik, Friends of the Earth, Hewlett-Packard, the Flemish Government, Friendship across Borders. The common thread of all his work is true to his own path through life: go deeper, find out who you really are as an individual or an organization, be authentic, take some risks, learn and evolve. Find a deeper meaning, connect to something bigger than yourself, be a force for good in the world.

James is also a strong believer in peer-to-peer learning and has initiated what he calls ‘Councils’, brought together top business leaders, both to share knowledge, find their deepest mission and imagine a better future for business and society.

In the meantime, James married and made his home in Belgium. Never one to choose the easy path, he has raised a large patchwork family as well as his business Quinx, a consultancy company he shares with four other partners. Over the last few years, every spare moment has been taken fulfilling one of his other passions: writing. He has tried to distill all that he has learnt about life into one book: The Discipline of Pleasure. And of course, he is still learning so there is another book on the way…

Right now, there is a calm urgency to his work as the world’s problems seem to worsen and he feels an increasing need for social relevance in everything he does. He seems himself as a spiritual activist without dogma. Pleasures of the soul come from service to others – in his case a commitment to spreading love and learning as deep and as far as possible. Pleasures of the spirit come from humility and feeling part of the whole.

The Festival of Love has also become an important place where James shares and connects his Mission and Vision, with all of us. As you meet this Master of Ceremonies, workshop-leader and early-morning meditation facilitator, you’ll be enjoying many facets of this awesome human being!

Join us in 2024