Tag Archives: MBC 2014

Challenges to Mindfulness Practice in the West: event on 11 April 2015

For some years now, the planning group of the Manchester Buddhist Convention (MBC) have felt that we should aim to do smaller events between the large Conventions in October.

 

This year we finally decided to put this into practice. The first of these was held on the above theme on April 11th 2015, at Triratna Buddhist Centre, Turner Street.

 

WomanMeditatingThere were two broad aims to the event:

  1. To explore Mindfulness practice in secular and meditative contexts.
  2. To bring different lineages together.

 

As we expected to hold the event in the smaller of the two shrine rooms we limited the numbers to 25 and decided to invite Dharma centres to nominate two people to attend.
This is a short Report on the event:

The event began with introductions, welcome, saluting the shrine and sitting practice. This was followed by two presentations, both by Buddhist practitioners one of whom offered Mindfulness training in a Buddhist context and the other who worked within the NHS.

 

Both presenters were informed by their particular practices and the contexts in which they worked. The material covered a lot of ground – from the ‘religion’ to aspects of Buddhism from different perspectives; the 8 week stress reduction course courses taught by and the different working contexts of the two speakers – ie – in a Buddhist Dharma Centre and the NHS where any mention of a spiritual framework was taboo. Results had to be ‘evidence based’ and benefits demonstrable. One of the presentations suggested that ‘Mindfulness training could be likened to Padmasambhava taming the demons when he went to Tibet (can be looked up on the net). By contrast the other described the demons that might beset a client when s/he came for treatment and showed how it might soothe a distressed person even for a short time – so two quite different presentations. This presentation suggested that a not very creative tension existed between the evidence-based demands of a clinical context and trusting our own inner experience – integral to Buddhist practice.

She described her work as ‘harmonising the mind with the body, rather than the other way round.’ ‘Making mindfulness accessible to mentally ill people.’ Helping them to ‘accept themselves’.

 

The group broke into small groups. These are some of the questions/points raised:

  • Is secular mindfulness the same as Buddhist Mindfulness practice?
  • The value of secular Buddhism is dependent on the quality of the teacher.
  • Secular mindfulness is better coming from a Buddhist teacher.
  • Buddhists are being too precious/possessive about ‘Mindfulness’.
  • The need for an ethical framework was indicated.
  • The need for transmission from a qualified teacher.
  • Were grand claims being made for limited results in the clinical context?
  • The use of Mindfulness training in other contexts was raised – in industry, schools, even within the US army. A comparison with the use of it among the Samurai was made in one group.
  • The Buddha’s teachings were not complicated but were they losing this simplicity and directness through cultural accretion?
  • ‘Challenges’ faced by Buddhism were not necessarily ‘cultural’ (Western) but the challenge of ‘modernity’ Buddhism has changed its presentation without losing its integrity over hundreds of years.
  • What might our questions be if we reversed the question to consider how Buddhism challenges our ‘modern’ cultural and given assumptions.
  • The possibility of losing lineage, transmission, diluting the Buddhadharma, eventually leading to losing it.
  • Not going far enough – ie- it will teach us how to ‘manage’ samsara but will not address how Awaken. Does this mean that we just learn how to function better in a corrupt society?
  • Can it help managers, for instance, to exploit people better? *

 

The other aim was to bring Buddhists of different lineages together? Why?

 

This was one of the main purposes of the MBC and most groups are keen. The October event is evidence that most Buddhists really do enjoy this engagement. Despite this, over the years of organising this event and speaking with different individuals it has become clear that there is a historical residue of historical suspicion. Some of this may be lineage based and some specific to Manchester. This weakens our potential and opens us to accusations of ‘sectarianism’. Facing our differences may be the one powerful thing we can do to ensure that the Buddhadhamma/dharma is made secure from ‘threats’ it may face. The Planning group has begun to reflect on this; to ‘own’ our ‘baggage’ and admit its existence. It aims to create trust in which to embed our practice and group and would like this to happen in a wider context – hence this event. This worked remarkable well. In a small group of 28 people there were at least 6 different lineages all absorbed in conversation and really engaging with each other.

 

We also wanted to explore ways in which we could work together as an inter-lineage group. Related to this are these comments from attendees:

  • The Annual Convention was exciting but it was good to be able to meet Buddhists from different lineages in a smaller, more intimate context.
  • The event was ‘therapeutic.’
  • There are not many inter-lineage networks like this one.
  • It captured the energy obvious at the Convention.

 

Some parallel observations:

 

  • The use of the breath and of sound is, or course, ancient and pre-dates Buddhism by millennia.
  • There is a blurring of the edges of what meditation has been used for; suggestion that it is not especially linked to spiritual practice.
  • Secular ‘mindfulness’ is here to stay. What can we do to harness it for the best possible use and mitigate its misuse (which appears to be happening alongside the relief it brings to suffering).

 

Once again, interest in what Buddhists could do in relation to service emerged. There was a huge fund of experience and action based initiatives in the room. We are exploring these and will keep you informed of what is happening either via the Website or at the Convention. If you are interested in the possibilities or have ideas or are involved in such initiatives please get in touch with us via the Website of with me directly.

 

A further event is planned for July. Again numbers will be limited due to space. If you are interested please inform your Dharma Centre or contact us directly.

 

Jaya – Co-ordinator, Manchester Buddhist Convention.

 

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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

www.thebuddhistsociety.org

MBC 2014 – Jaya Graves

Theme: ‘Buddhism Today: relevance and responding to the Crises of our times

 

MBC 2014 took place, as usual on the second Saturday of October – ie Saturday 11th, at St. Peter’s Chaplaincy, Oxford Road. As always, our thanks go to Rev. Terry Biddington and his team who made the Venue available to us.

The theme was decided from feedback received over the years, discussion with the Venerable Piyatissa and among ourselves – ie – the MBC Planning group.

 

As always, the programme develops through dialogue with people who respond and/or are invited to make an input. Over the years we have become familiar with areas of work that some Centres and presenters are interested in. But there is enough difference and variety to keep us lively and on our toes! Last minute withdrawals and additions make programme planning an open-ended process almost to the day before.

 

The day started with a short ceremony in the Foyer. We created a small shrine and began with chanting from different schools of Buddhism and in several different languages – Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan and English – a moving and unifying start. One person came to me and said, ‘that’s it Jaya. This is what I came for…’.

 

Responding to suggestions, we decided that instead of short ‘keynote’ inputs we would have discussion groups before lunch. So after a short ‘setting the scene’ session in the Auditorium, we broke into three discussion sessions – ‘Buddhism in Action’, ‘Tzu Chi: Buddhism as Compassion in Action’, and ‘Gender and Buddhism’. This was followed by lunch after which the programme continued in the normal pattern – ie – themed strands that could be followed through the day – Practice, Dharma/Dhamma topics, Buddhist based activity and human rights. People could choose to follow a strand through the day or vary their choices. (1)

 

As I could not split myself into 5 to attend each sessions (which I sometimes wish I could!) the report is a mixture of hearsay, feed-back and attendance.

 

‘Buddhism in Action’, explored what was happening in the national, European and Global context. (2) It addressed different levels of engagement – the national, European and International. The point was made that there are over 250,000 Buddhists in the UK but they seem not to be ‘connecting’ with their social and political power to ‘create change’. A similar point was made in the session, ‘Has Buddhism lost it’s radical edge?’(3) This could stem from the notion that ‘politics’ is somehow beneath or outside the Buddhist framework. Others say that they take it into their personal work. (4)

 

Tzu Chi ‘spoke on their activities in the UK’. Here is a comment about this session, ‘a most illuminating exploration of Engaged Buddhism with clear reference to contemporary examples of how Buddhist concepts and ideas relate. The discussion explored how the principle of rebirth and karma relates to repentance and service.’ Tzu Chi works on several fronts in Manchester – with women, with refugees and does environmental work in Cheetham.’ (5)

 

The third discussion was ‘Gender and Buddhism’(6). The session was concerned more with the ‘how’ questions rather than ‘if’– no one questions the notion that women are capable of reaching Enlightenment. We were concerned, among other things’, on gender disparity in general, epitomised by the loss of full ordination for nuns. The accusation has been made that this was a case of ‘male book-keeping’. Patriarchy holds power. There is neither precedence nor directive from the Buddha. What had/was being done about it, and how the lineage of Bhikunis could be restored were concerns. (7) Examples were given of people who had taken matters into their own hands – Ajahn Brahm in Australia who has ordained nuns as have Patriarchs in various Zen traditions. The case of Shih Chao Hwei of Taiwan who tore up the garudharmas was identified. Others spoke of nuns in the FGS, Tzu Chi (founded by the nun, Master Chen Yen), Lama Shenpen in Hookham. A visit is suggested. Tibetan Buddhism has women lamas but doctrinal positions as well as attitude towards nuns and women vary within and between lineages. ‘Equality’ needs to be the norm not a ‘gift’ of a patriarchal hierarchy. So there is some way to go!

 

‘Maple Leaves in Autumn’, presented an inspiring project undertaken by a Monastery in Fukushima after the Tsunami which had had a massive impact on the psyche of the people. The abbot and monks collected contaminated soil in large plastic bags; transported and stored this monastery grounds. Sunflowers were planted to help transform the soil and remove radioactivity. (A symbol of transformation and hope to 2 million people; it creates a ripple effect outwards) (8); a session by the Sale Buddhist Centre – ‘This was a most thoughtful, sensitive and articulate exploration of four key aspects of Buddhist belief and practice;’ Stonewater Zen ‘explored perspectives on contemporary issues and raised the question (which arose throughout the day) of ways to respond to what can appear to be overwhelming events in the world…’. Jeremy filled in at the last minute for Alan Smith of Soto Zen who was unwell. FGS, SGI, the Chaplaincy and Faith and Fire updated us on their work and led practice sessions.

 

There were two later discussion sessions. ‘Mindfulness in the NHS’ was well attended and explored, ‘the difficulties as well as delights of retaining the authenticity of mindfulness within a secular organization that is driven by targets and outcomes. Opinion ranged from a sense of ‘anything is better than nothing’, to concern that mindfulness was being stripped of its ethical mooring. (9) ‘Buddhism in the West was led by panellists. (I was handed notes from this session and write from these). The general view seems to have been that while aspects of Buddhist expression needed to change, the core elements should be retained. Some points raised questions in my own mind – eg – the dichotomy between ‘science and the spiritual’, generalisations about ‘gender equality’, ‘taking Buddhism back to the East’ where the Dharma has ‘stagnated’. I would suggest caution in these assumptions which may be views from the best intentioned and influential of teachers from the East, or from Western practitioners who travel there. There is a difference in how Buddhism is practiced in countries where it is established. This doesn’t mean it is ‘stagnating’. We may have lessons to learn from this – the value and need for Dana; respect for symbols of the Buddha. Also what Western people ‘do’ will be judged within a post-colonial discourse. ‘Working together’, is a less problematic notion. Personally, what I find alarming and painful is the growth of militancy within the monastic community in some ‘traditional’ countries. Is this not something we need to be aware of? What could be our response? Are there lessons we can usefully learn? It will be worth writing this session up as it seems to be topic to which we will return over the years – so watch this space and send us your thoughts/notes.

 

Feedback

Feedback from the Convention was generally good. These are some comments, ‘ An inspirational event’. An event for the good ‘of many sentient beings’. ‘Discussion and thoughtfulness…’ One comment regretted the loss of the ‘inspirational’ input at the start of the day’. This is something that we will need to re-consider. Others felt that there were not enough ‘practice sessions’ (however, having looked at the Programme, I think this must be a matter of personal choice); a suggestion that the sessions were ‘too wordy’. Buddhist action needs to be embedded in Dharma/Dhamma. (Again, this could have been a matter of specific presentations but also something we need to remind would be presenters.) Several people remarked that though there was interaction on one level, people who came in groups tended to remain in their group but we could all benefit from learning about each others practices and work. One person was impressed by how the topics fitted neatly with each other and the theme though each was a whole and had been developed separately. Interesting…

 

The Future

Practice and Dharma sessions will underpin future Conventions. This is, after all a Buddhist Convention, not a Convention about Buddhism.

 

Themes that seem likely to continue are ‘Buddhism in the West’. This has come up over the year and comes up in different sessions. Others could be Gender/human Rights and Buddhism; Buddhism and social action’. ‘Obstacles to practice and possible remedies’; has been requested. Hearing from others would help us develop what we do in the future.

 

The Convention planning group started out with just 6 people – a small number for an initiative that is growing in size as well as complexity. Later in the year we were joined by a cohort of energetic friends– all of whom have indicated that they want to remain in the planning group. This will indeed be a boost to planning. Sharing responsibilities will facilitate the organisation of the event. We are happy to have ideas from the attendees whether or not they want to participate in meetings. It’s good to feel that we are planning with a group of people who are interested in what is happening in the MBC.

 

Apart from personal commitment, a Convention of this size and range requires resources. The Convention started on a ‘dana’ (donation) basis. We have decided not to indicate even a ‘suggested donation’. We take seriously the notion of giving as an opportunity to give, for all. If people attending the Convention give generously, we cover our costs, offer our host a decent share and have a small ‘roll over’ for the next event. So we urge you to reflect on whether you want the MBC to continue. Perhaps as part of the discussion on ‘Buddhism in the West’, we can reflect on the place of ‘generosity/dana’ as a core Buddhist principle.

Some Reflections

Several ‘older’ supporters and even Centres are not as visible as they used to be. On the other hand, certain Centres that have not attended or didn’t particularly support the MBC attend in greater numbers. Smaller centres are more involved in the planning group. There are more people from some ‘traditional’ Buddhist countries. There are quite a number of younger faces but fewer students. More people from different ‘faith’ systems are attending. It is interesting that we seem to have many new attendees at successive Conventions.

 

My Centre is in Scotland and I practice in several different centres and feel ‘at home’ and welcomed. Because I coordinate the MBC, develop the Programme, do some personal liaison and contact and meet with individuals from different centres who are interested and concerned with the development on the Dharma/Dhamma in the West, I hear and engage in conversation to try and understand what is happening and what people and centres think. This is always a privilege, interesting, sometimes a bit disheartening. Here in the west we are privileged with a huge range of different lineages and schools of Buddhist thought. The core teachings have to be the same but approaches and attitudes can be strikingly different. There are also long memories that have created dissent and suspicions about motivations among individuals as well as Centres. Because the style of an individual or group is outgoing does not mean that s/he or it is trying to ‘take over’ or dominate the Buddhist scene. It may be just enthusiasm for the Dharma. Other Centres maybe more introverted and ‘outreach’ is more about bringing people into Centres than becoming involved in ‘intra-Buddhist’, inter-faith’ or social dialogue. I’m sure there is a need for different approaches but not a need for distrust. My hope for the next decade of the MBC is that while we continue to strengthen our own Centres, we will find some time to support the MBC or other networks trying to build a cohesive and trustful Dharma/Dhamma in the service of society and humanity as a whole.

 

The Convention serves different. It may be social, to meet other groups or to learn. For me, it constructs a Mandala, a sacred space, within which to explore meaning and exchange ideas of service, healing, love, compassion, peace, identifying what is already being done; what else could/needs to be done; provides space to investigate our own inner space, ability and commitment and re-commit to these aims.

 

  • We will post presentations and discussion session notes on the website over the year.
  • Notes will be posted
  • Presentation will be posted.
  • The Buddha may not have been overtly ‘political’ but he made political interventions and gave advice when it was sought. His work and teaching had social and political implication stemming from the injunction that these engagements should be rooted in compassion.
  • The MBC is grateful to Tzu Chi for their generous donation (as in other years.)
  • Will be a post.
  • Some men say that discussions on Gender are a ‘turn-off’. Here are a couple of sites and books: Bhikkuni Websites: Sakhyadita, Alliance of Bhikkunis. Books: Religion and Society; on our own: An Agenda for the 21st Century; Buddhist Women and Social Justice – Ideals, Challenges and Achievements. We can also explore the Buddha’s own teachings.
  • Will be a post.
  • Maybe a post. There will also be an MBC event on this topic

 

 

 

 

 

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

BUDDHISM TODAY:

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

Auditorium

2

Cafe

3.

Chill out room

4.

Library

  1. (Ground)

Oxford Room

6.Walkway

Chapel

9.00-9.40

 

 

9.45-10.00

Registration Coffee/tea

Opening Chants

 

 

         
10.05 – 10.15  

 

 

 

Introduc

tion,

Jaya-MBC

         
10.15– 10.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaplaincy Terry Biddington          
10.25-

  1. 25

 

 

  Discussion

NBO – Jamie Creswell

    Discussion

Tzu Chi

Discussion

Gender and Buddhism

11.30 12.35 Lunch in the Foyer       (Please DO NOT take any food or drink into the Chapel (Auditorium)
12.40-13.25

Ist. Sessions

Sessions 1-5

 

 

Session numbers and Presenters
  1. Café

FGS- Ven Miao Duo.

  1. Chill Out room

Triratna

Dh Arthavardin

  1. Library

Stonewater Zen

John Suigen Kenworthy

4.Oxford Room

Dechen

Centre

John Rowan

  1. 5. Walkway Chapel

Womens’ Space

Oxana

13.30-14.15

2nd Session

(6-10)

6-10 6.

Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation Deborah Raikes

7.

Buddhist Chaplaincy

Keith Munnings

  • Kelvin Ravenscroft

    10.

    KwanUmZen

    Jibul

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

    (Café)                                             (Oxford Room)                          (Walkway Chapel)

    Tea Break
    15.35-16.20

    3rd session

    (11-15)

     

    11-15

    11

    Community of Interbeing

    Anne Rowbottom

    12

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

    13

    The Buddhist Society Of Manchester (Sale).

    Paul Shambrook

    14

    Soto Zen

    Ven Alan Smith

    15

    Soka Gakkai

    International

     

    16.25-

    1. 35

    16.35-16.45

    Reconvene

    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.

     

    13.30-14-15

    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

    15.35-16.20

    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’.

     

    Notes

     

    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

    August 2014 Update by Jaya

    This is a further update on the convention.

    As you know the title has been shortened to:

     

    Buddhism Today: Renewal and relevance

    Responding to the challenges of our times.

     

    By now you should have had Oxana’s poster and hopefully, you have forwarded it onto you various networks, centre members and other people who may be interested in the Convention. It will also be helpful if you can make a few copies and ask people to hand them out or put them in shops, centres, community groups who may be interested in this event.  This Convention needs to be seen as a shared project that we can all promote otherwise it will disappear. It’s quite a big undertaken for a group of six, some of whom are still working full-time and others of whom have multiple identities with various duties attached!

     

    You will find a registration form on the website so please begin to register. Please note that there is a field that asks if you require food. This is important so as not to waste food – not a sustainable practice nor sensible for an event that runs on a shoestring and voluntary contributions in terms of time, food and other resources. We would like to see it remain that way.

    In our last update we explained the reason for our choice of topic. If we stop to consider what is happening to our world, will see that we are beset with problems.

     

    This is apparent in the world outside ourselves where we may think we have little control, in our own neighbourhoods as well as within ourselves.  This is the scenario. 

     

    AvalokiteshvaraHowever the aim of the Convention is not to brood on the negativities that surround us and affect us – how can they not? – but to examine them; examine some of the actions that people are taking in response; and come up with ideas that people can take forward. We cannot change our environment entirely but we are not helpless and what we do together can magnify what we do individually or even as different centres..

     

    The Convention will examine some examples of work that is taking place. Through discussion we will try and develop ideas that we can take forward to create healing in different contexts. There are already some ‘new shoots’ that are being examined; people working in different contexts with Buddhist/spiritual ideas. They will be presented at the Convention and participants may have ideas of how to take them forward.  There will also be themed discussion spaces for people to explore specific ideas that have come up over the years, or to suggest their own.

     

    It is interesting to see how many people are interested in Buddhism and are happy to talk about it. On the other hand it is discouraging how many practices are being detached from their ethical and spiritual mooring and presented as mere activities to increase the ‘feel-good’ factor of our lives. This has happened to yoga, meditation and seems to be happening to ‘mindfulness’. (Perhaps some of you read Suzanne Moore’s article in the Guardian. If not – it might be interesting to check.)

     

    There are, of course different notions of ‘doing’ among Buddhists. Some think that we have to ‘work on ourselves first’. There are others who believe that we have to do both together; that time is precious and the situation demands it.

     

    These are some thoughts from a Buddhist (myself) from the other side of the globe. In countries where Buddhism is embedded in the community, there is no separation. In SE Asia, monks and nuns still go out to beg for food. They are entirely dependent on the community to survive. In return they teach, maybe run hospitals, schools and serve the old. There is a symbiotic relationship between them and the community in which they live. In India where there is a revival of Buddhism, it was considered a duty to give alms bhikkus and saddhus – not just those who belonged to one’s own spiritual system (sasana*) but to any mendicant. People would look out to give at least once a day. (A custom that is, unfortunately, receding with modernisation but it is still practiced to some extent.)

     

    Sasana is the Sanskrit and Pali term for teaching, spiritual path or practice. I am choosing to use it because the term ‘tradition’ in English is redolent with something that belongs to the past and will not change. 

     

    There will be one or two more updates in the weeks leading up to the Convention. Please also feel free to post your own material or ideas on the Website – it’s for discussion – but it’s a monologue at the moment.

     

    Jaya – co-ordinator MBC

     

     

     

     

    Manchester Buddhist Convention One Root Many Branches

     

    Manchester Buddhist Convention 2014: announcement


    Manchester Buddhist Convention

     

    MBCphoto1

     

     

    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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