Tag Archives: Manchester Buddhist Convention 2014

Manchester Buddhist Convention: October 11th, 2014

tnManchester hosts over 25 Buddhist ‘schools’ or systems of thought and practice. These include Theravada from Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma, Chan, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism of all four lineages, Triratna that aims to create an interface between different schools and the SGI that is non-monastic and whose practice is based entirely on the Lotus Sutra.

Given this diversity and wealth of Buddhist thinking, the creation of a Forum to bring these together was inevitable. This was the Manchester Buddhist Convention (MBC). Founded nine years ago, it is an annual event where Buddhists of different systems, the monastic and lay communities, meet to share learning and practice.

The early events focused on providing ‘taster sessions’ and introductions to the different schools. A few years ago we felt it was time to move on from this format and explore wider issues and deeper meanings.

DSCF5540Using the strapline ‘One Root Many Branches’, we began to explore different elements of, for example, Compassion as understood in Buddhism; of Bodhicitta and the Bodhisattva path; of what we meant by ‘mind’; of subjectivity, personal investigation, science and the scientific method. For instance – Buddhism is intensely investigative. This personal investigation uses personal experience as well as other peoples’ personal investigation. It has been argued that it is, evidence based but not necessarily within the Western framework. Does this make it less valid? We continue to explore Buddhist meditation and pain relief. Buddhism gives people strength in their own life and the work they undertake. But increasingly, we aim to address the question of how Buddhists locate ourselves in a world facing multiple crises.

The day is designed to allow people to follow a ‘strand’ throughout the day if they so wish or to ‘mix and match’. They can either choose to attend all practice sessions (from different systems), or Dharma topics, or themes (for example, these could be, ‘Buddhist action in the world’ or ‘human rights’ or ‘Gender’. There are also two discussion sessions that we select through feedback or an assessment of the year before.

This year’s theme was, ‘Buddhism Today: Relevance and Revival

Responding to the challenges we face.

DSC04967Workshops examined the local, European and global context of Buddhism and the work of ‘intra’ Buddhist organisations like the chaplaincy services and Angulimala. Other workshops posed the question of whether Buddhism had lost its radical edge – relevant in a theme that aimed to address ‘relevance and renewal’. Presenters discussed the use and associated difficulties of ‘mindfulness’ in professional contexts like the NHS. However, such training may be used more creatively in more personalised, professional contexts like the Fire services. (Faith and Fire – a creative partnership between the Fire Services and Buddhists.) One workshop examined the poignant initiative taken by monks in Fukushima who collected contaminated soil from the reactor, transferred it to the monastery and surrounded it with sunflowers. These seemed to absorb the contamination safely. ‘Gender and Buddhism’ asked why full ordination of women was uncommon. If as, many women scholars argue, this was not what the Buddha taught (it is not based on precedence, as the Buddha’s instructions were, but loss of ‘lineage’. So we ask, ‘who was in control of holding the lineage’. Many have said simply – ‘It is andro-centric book-keeping.’) There were examples of people who had simply decided to ignore the ‘rules’ and inspiring women teachers.

MBC participants have suggested that Buddhists need to be more visible in social contexts but I feel we could challenge the notion that Buddhists are not active or responsive to the problems in the world. There are endless numbers of ‘projects’, trusts and processes that Buddhists have founded and/or are involved in. So we, ourselves, seem to have swallowed the notion that we are not active. What is true, and has also been raised, is that there are few intra-Buddhist Projects. I also think, as do others, that we are not very good at meeting each other and can be mistrustful. We do not all approach the world in the same way. Some schools are proactive. Some more reserved. I have seen and heard suspicion between these approaches. Enthusiasm for the Dhamma/Dharma is perceived as an intention to ‘take over’. Terminology is sometimes contentious. Monoculturality was fleetingly mentioned in one session. These may not be an issue in countries where the Dhamma/Dharma is firmly embedded or where there is just one system present.

The MBC is an ‘inter’ and ‘intra’ Buddhist event that aims to accommodate all Buddhists who wish to make a presentation. In the course of a day, the event cannot and does not aim to go into in depth investigation of Buddhist teachings but offers a spectrum of significant topics. It has moved on from introductory sessions to raise and address some doctrinal and issue-based themes in ways that are not dogmatic but discursive and participative. It has been suggested that the MBC should organise other smaller events over the year so we will have an annual event as well as a few smaller ones. Some centres have already interested in hosting an MBC event. The MBC is organised on a zero budget with a handful of volunteers, no established venue and aims to exist on a donation basis (not well established in the West), so the continuation of the events will be contingent on donation and volunteer support.

DSCF5522At the MBC, as we learn more about each other’s specific systems we begin to explore teachings outside the confines of our own Schools and explore what we share and where we differ. I would like to think that what is happening is that instead of avoiding different practices as a threat, we are becoming confident enough to see the reality of what we often like to quote – ie – that the Buddha recognised the needs of different temperaments and so preached a huge amount of methods and paths. These cannot compete but complement each other and are intended to suit the needs of all who turn to Buddhism. The MBC offers an opportunity for us to come together as Buddhists. For me this is the single most important service that the MBC offers. The Dhamma/Dharma has taken wing and arrived in the West. This is our true inheritance. It is Ekayana – One Dhamma/Dharma.

Jaya Graves.

Manchester Buddhist Convention. 2014

First published in the Middle Way Vol 89, No. 3



October Update by Jaya

by Jaya

Update October


This will be the final update so will be mainly concerned with practical things.


However, one or two other things that may interest you;


As I wrote – next year – 2014 will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Manchester Buddhist Convention so I hope many of those founder member and groups will feel able to attend. Many of them find that the date clashes with one or other event in their own Centres but since we are giving everyone a years notice (as, indeed we have done for three years, maybe they will be able and willing to make some adjustments to their calendar. It will be a pity if we lose that energy as, of course, the MBC is a living thing. Therefore it evolves. It will evolve differently without them. Discussion sessions will explore ‘Buddhism in the West’. Prior to this Arthavadin from Triratna, will speak about Buddhism’s ‘radical edge’ so will this lead nicely into this topic. Dave Cook will run a session on MBC – A decade of work. Hopefully we will build up a picture of work of what has happened in the MBC in that time and where we want to take it or where it wants to go – which of course is a matter of our collective will. All the sessions will be embedded in Buddhist thinking but there will be common threads with other ‘faith’ traditions, as for example the importance of compassion.


I’m happy to say that the Gender strand is appearing strongly. We will take a historical perspective; explore some of the challenges that are occurring. This, of course is an issue for all genders! It’s also exploratory as none of us are ‘experts’ but have some knowledge and some experience and we want to learn from others. We want to think about what next… to do this we have to face up to certain things and ask the questions.


We will also hear from a group that is coming together to develop work with the emergency services and others that work to heal trauma. This is a very new initiative.


We will also have practice from various schools of Buddhism. I am sorry that we will be missing some of the monastic community as it is close to the Katina festival (the end of the rains), which is very important in the Theravada groups. However, there will be monks and nuns from other schools who will be presenting sessions that offer a mixture or practice and discussion.


Now some boring but essential requests:

  • Please register, regardless of whether you are a presenter, volunteer or planning group member. This is easier than counting heads. It is purely for catering purposes as all our expenses have to be met by donations or out of our own pockets. We do not have any income apart from what is donated. This does not leave a cash surplus nor do we want to waste resources.
  • The Programme for the day is on the website. Look at it for reference and to reflect on the workshops you may want to attend. There will be no printed programmes. This has proved to be very wasteful in the past. If you wish to have a copy it is there for you to print out.
  • For your convenience there will be a hand-written Programme on a board as you enter
  • Please can you donate (give Dana – a wonderful opportunity to practice generosity!) to cover the cost of venue, food and other overheads (publicity, decorations, etc). There is no charge for the event and we would like to keep it that way.
  • If you are new can you leave your name and email address (clearly written!) so that we can contact you for future events.
  • There is a multi-story car park behind the venue if you come by car. Buses are frequent from Piccadilly station, town centre, Chorlton, Whalley range etc.
  • Lastly – pray, meditate, wish deeply for good weather!


Jaya Co-ordinator and programme manager, MBC

Manchester Buddhist Convention 2014: Programme


Renewal and Relevance.

Responding to the challenges of our time.

Manchester Buddhist Convention

Saturday 11th Oct 2014 9.00 am – 17.00pm

 To view this programme as a .doc file, download it here Final Programme portrait 1

Time Foyer 1





Chill out room



  1. (Ground)

Oxford Room







Registration Coffee/tea

Opening Chants



10.05 – 10.15  







10.15– 10.25







Chaplaincy Terry Biddington          

  1. 25




NBO – Jamie Creswell


Tzu Chi


Gender and Buddhism

11.30 12.35 Lunch in the Foyer       (Please DO NOT take any food or drink into the Chapel (Auditorium)

Ist. Sessions

Sessions 1-5



Session numbers and Presenters
  1. Café

FGS- Ven Miao Duo.

  1. Chill Out room


Dh Arthavardin

  1. Library

Stonewater Zen

John Suigen Kenworthy

4.Oxford Room



John Rowan

  1. 5. Walkway Chapel

Womens’ Space



2nd Session


6-10 6.

Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation Deborah Raikes


Buddhist Chaplaincy

Keith Munnings

  • Kelvin Ravenscroft




    14.20-15.05 Discussions:                                Discussion   Julie Williams       Discussion: Buddhism in the West     Discussion   MBC

    (Café)                                             (Oxford Room)                          (Walkway Chapel)

    Tea Break

    3rd session





    Community of Interbeing

    Anne Rowbottom


    Faith and Fire and Manchester Group Jacquetta, Daryl Oprey, Frankie, James                   and others


    The Buddhist Society Of Manchester (Sale).

    Paul Shambrook


    Soto Zen

    Ven Alan Smith


    Soka Gakkai




    1. 35



    Announcements. Dedication of Merit.

    16.45 17.00 Chanting     Fo Guang Centre

    One Root Many Branches






    Presenters/workshop leaders (According to slots)


    Ist. Discussion Session: There will be three slots 10.25-11.25


    Network of Buddhist Organisations: Jamie Cresswell will outline some of the things going on in terms of the NBO, the European Buddhist Union and also on an international cross traditional level. In this there would be plenty of scope for projects and volunteers to be involved. Jamie is particularly concerned that Buddhists get together and work together on what might termed Buddhism in action. This will be an opportunity to outline what is possible.

    Tzu Chi: Dr. Frank Lee will speak on ‘Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s view of Buddhism in Action’ and will focus on “What is the Tzu Chi Foundation doing in the UK”. Tzu Chi’s main concern and approach to the Dharma is compassion in Action. This will be a mixture of presentation and interactive discussion.

    Gender and Buddhism: The issue of Gender has been ongoing within Buddhism right from 2,600 years ago. In recent years there is again a groundswell of questioning. Some of these have been articulated in the MBC over the years. This session will be an exploratory one, open to all – men have ‘Gender’ too! Hopefully such discussion will connect with what is happening in other parts of the world and eventually create change within different Buddhist schools with regard to provision for women, full ordination and more recognised lineage-holders. It may be a long, hard slog but it has already happened in some instances and is supported by world renowned Buddhist teachers. There will be a ‘Womens’Only’ slot later in the day.

    Presentation and Practice – 5 slots each session: 12.40-13.25


    1. Fo Guang Shan Centre: Venerable Miao Chen will speak on Meditation, Fo Guang Shan and Humanistic Buddhism, B.L.I.A. related to Engaging Buddhism.

    2.Triratna Buddhist Order (Manchester Buddhist Centre): Title: The Radical Edge: Returning to Buddhism in the 21st Century. Led by Dh. Arthavadin. In the 1960s and 1970s Buddhism gained a foothold in the West. It promised an alternative to the growing hegemony of consumerism and the ‘me generation’. Now, fifty years on, we must ask ourselves – ‘Has Buddhism changed consumerism or has consumerism changed Buddhism? What can we do to return Buddhism to its radical edge?’

    1. Stonewater Zen: Title: ‘Presence in our time: bearing witness to unbearable suffering’. Presented by John Suigen Kenworthy, an ordained monk in the Stonewaterzen sangha (UK) based in Liverpool and led by Dr David Keizan Scott Sensei and is affiliated to the White Plum Asanga. There are now groups across the UK. (See website for more information on Stonewater Zen)
    1. Dechen Centre: Title: ‘The Six Paramitas or the Six Perfections, the heart of the bodhisattva practice’. Led by John Rowan. The Six Paramitas are the practices of bodhisattvas, dedicated to helping all beings attain Buddhahood. If we begin to practice these even in a small measure, we will gradually begin to develop our innate potential, our true nature, our Buddha Nature.

    Dechen is an international association of centres of the Sakya and Karma Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism with centres world-wide.


    1. A ‘Womens’ Space’: led by Oxana Poberejnaia will explore some of issues that arise in the session in the morning Discussion session and explore some of the challenges that women face and make in relation to Buddhism and the wider world.



    1. Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation (Chorlton): Title: Samatha Practice. Speaker: Dehorah Raikes.This is a chance for complete beginners to Samatha breathing mindfulness practice to learn the first basic stage of the practice, discuss what supports Samatha practice and explore the Five Hindrances to meditation as described in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition. Deborah practices Samatha in the Theravada school.


    1. Buddhist Chaplaincy Support Group (Kalayanamitra): Title: BUDDHIST CHAPLAINCY: CANYOUHELP? Speaker: Keith Munnings

    Keith practices in the Samatha tradition and has taught meditation for more than 30 years’. He has also been a Hospital Chaplain for 10 years.

    1. Kelvin Ravenscroft: Title: Maple Leaves in Autumn – Inspired by Zen Master Ryokan’s question “What legacy shall I leavebehind?” this participative workshop will explore perspectives on Engaged Buddhism with particular reference to a Buddhist response tothe effects of the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in Japan.
      Kelvin has taught Religious Studies and Philosophy in a range of educational contexts, developed and taught University courses exploring Spirituality and Personal Development and Ethics, Change and Personal Development and has led workshops internationally exploring the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) dimensions of teaching and learning.
    1. KwanUmZen: Title:  “Just Like This is Buddha”. Presented by Jibul, bodhisattva teacher. Jibul has been a Zen Buddhist for 40 years, in the Kwan Um School for 20 years, and teaching in England since 2011 at The Peak Zen, Kubong-Sa, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.

    The essential characteristic of the Zen tradition is “Tathata”, translated into English as “Thusness” or “Just Like This”.  Applied in perception, in action and in relationships, this is the heart of Zen practice and awakening, beyond words, before thinking — a special transmission outside the scriptures. This will be a dharma talk and discussion.


    2nd Discussion session. There will be 3 slots 14.20-15.05


    Facilitator/presenter: Julie Williams. Julie is a dramatherapist: Theme: Mindfulness Within The NHS based on experience of delivering mindfulness within the NHS to Managers Clinicians and Patients. We will explore the difficulties and delights of retaining the authenticity of this ancient practice within a secular organization that is driven by targets and outcomes. How we make it accessible without diluting its essence.

    Facilitator: Rita Ashworth. Rita is a long practitioner and is still exploring. Theme: Buddhism in the West Presenter/participants: John Rowan, Irene Wai Lin

    Facilitator: David Cooke. Dave practices in the Samatha school of Buddhsim. Theme: MBC – a decade of work… Gathering ideas for the future


    1. Community of Interbeing: Led by Anne Rowbottom. The Heart of Manchester Sangha is part of the community of Interbeing –practising in the tradition of zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The Heart of Manchester Sangha invite you to share a session of practice that include guided meditation, walking meditation, silent meditation, and perhaps some sharing or questions and answers –as time permits. Open to anyone who would like to join us.
    1. Faith and Fire: Jacquetta Gomes and Fire Officer Daryl Oprey, will update us on the work of Faith and Fire. Frankie Kington and a group from Manchester will introduce an initiative developing here.
    1. Centre of Buddhist meditation (Sale): Paul Shambrook will speak on ‘Practice in Daily life’. He will aim to cover what the Buddhist Society of Manchester (Sale) teaches in terms of practice and approach to the Buddha’s way.
    1. Soto Zen: Bhikku Alan Smith will speak on the kesa – the robe worn by Soto Zen monks.
    1. Soka Gakkai International: SGI will demonstrate gongyo, their twice daily chanting practice. This consists of two passages from the Lotus Sutra in a Japanese transliteration of a High Chinese translation if the Sutra, and the mantra,’ Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’.




    We will not to use the Auditorium this year. However, we will convene there in the morning and reconvene in the afternoon to dedicate for to dedicate merit and announcements.

    The morning ‘plenary’ has been replaced by a discussion session (3 slots).

    After lunch there will be TWO presenter/discussion sessions with FIVE slots each (rather than six as in previous years).

    This will be followed by another discussion session of THREE slots each before the tea break.

    After tea there will be one more discussion session of FIVE slots each.

    We will re-convene, briefly, in the Auditorium, for dedication of merit and announcements.

    The final channting will take place in the Foyer.

    The Venue is on three levels. The rooms are numbered and colour coded for your convenience.   FOUR rooms (including the Auditorium) are located on the middle (second) floor. Room No 5 is located on the ground floor (Oxford Room). Room No 6 is located on the third floor (Walkway Chapel). There will be people to help you locate these on the day. A programme will be displayed in the Foyer.

    Please note the numbers 1-15 denote sessions, NOT room numbers. Session/room numbers are 1-5.

    The opening and closing chants will take place in the Foyer.

    Lunch will be at 11.30 to allow those for who need to eat early. A short blessing will be said before the start of the meal. Please allow nuns and monks to be served first. There will be a room allocated for Venerables. If they wished to join us after their lunch in other spaces that will be a great pleasure.

    No food should be taken into the Auditorium or Chapel.

    A board and papers for comments and feedback will be provided. Please use them. This is what we use to develop the event.

    There will also be some display tables with literature from some of the Manchester Centres.

    Apologies for any mistakes in titles, spellings, etc. These are unintentional.





    One Root Many Branches

    Manchester Buddhist Convention 2014: announcement

    Manchester Buddhist Convention





    The Manchester Buddhist Convention 2014 will be held, as usual, on the second Saturday of October.


    At:                    St Peter’s Chaplaincy (Same venue as last year)

                      Oxford Rd.

    From :          9. 00- 5.00pm


    We are still working on title, themes and workshops but feedback from last year and initial discussions suggest that people are increasingly interested in what the Dharma/Dhamma offers to the crises of our times and the work already being done. So it is likely that the theme this year will be along these lines while retaining the meditation and Dharma strands.  Please contact us with your own ideas either via the website or to any of us personally.


    Meanwhile do put this date in your diaries.  As we said – the MBC is becoming a ‘not to be missed event’ and we are trying to establish the second Sat. in Oct. as the day the Convention takes place.



    One root Many Branches


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