UK & Ireland Area Order Convention:
A Mandala of Awakening
UK & Ireland Area Convention 2019
A Mandala of Awakening
This is the first UK & Ireland Area Convention, and it will be held in the familiar (for many) environment of Wymondham College, from Tuesday 6th to Sunday 11th August 2019
This year there will also be Area Conventions in Mainland Europe, Australia/New Zealand, India and the Americas. While this is a UK and Ireland Area Convention, there is an open invitation for any Order member around the world who would like to come.
See the draft Convention Programme here.
Some useful things to bring with you
- Towel and soap or shower gel. All bedding is provided.
- A torch or headtorch, if you like to read in bed (there may not be any reading lights)
- A mug (some people find Wymondham’s cups a bit small).
- A handbag / manbag for carrying your valuables. The safes in the rooms are mostly out of service, so you can’t count on a secure location for valuables.
- Sitting gear. There will be mats and cushions provided for about 150 people (out of 440), but you are welcome to bring your own.
- Some people like to bring a spare pillow, as the single one provided can feel a bit thin
- Eye mask / earplugs
- The swimming pool will not be in use, due to a major fault. There may be an opportunity to play tennis / volleyball or suchlike
Arriving / leaving
The convention will start on Tuesday with dinner from 5.45pm and the first event at 8pm. It will finish after lunch on Sunday. If you arrive after the beginning, your first meal will be dinner on the day of arrival (unless you ordered an extra lunch). And if you leave before the end, your last meal is lunch on the day of departure (unless you ordered and extra dinner).
If reception is not manned when you arrive, if the door is open (first building on the left) then go inside and find your welcome pack and tick yourself off on the list. If you arrive late at night and the door is closed, check the list on the door of reception. If you are staying in an en-suite room (“Ralphs” Hall), you will need a keycard. Instructions will be left.
We are hoping to have a golf cart to offer a “bus service” around the campus at Wymondham, to help those with restricted mobility.
Wymondham College provides a range of different accommodation types. Most rooms have 1, 2 or 4 beds, with a bathroom shared with a few other rooms. You can request a single room: there are still plenty available, so you can request one without a medical need, although priority will be be given if you have medical reasons or are a snorer.
There are some single rooms with en suite bathroom (there aren’t any sharing en suites). There are very few left, and we can’t guarantee one, but you can request one, so indicate what you would prefer if one is not available.
Or you can camp in a tent or camper-van / live-in vehicle. You will have access to bathrooms in a nearby hall.
Day visitors are provided with lunch and dinner.
During the booking process, you can request to share with particular people; please ensure you have checked with them. They will still need to book for themselves.
Costs and Bursaries
The costs are:
- Single with en suite bathroom: £55 per night (FULLY BOOKED)
- Shared bathroom: £50 per night
- Camping: £38 per night
- Day visitor (includes lunch and dinner): £35 per day
Other than day visitors, the prices include three meals per full day, dinner on the day of arrival, and lunch on the day of departure. Extra meals can be requested during the booking process.
A deposit of £35 will be payable on booking by Paypal (no account needed, just a debit / credit card. No deposit is needed if you request payment by an institution, or have had a bursary agreed. You will receive an emailed invoice for the final balance, payable preferably by bank transfer. Please book by the end of June. The final booking deadline is 18th July, but Wymondham needs an early indication of numbers to order food.
Concessionary prices are not available, as we are charged a fixed rate per head by Wymondham College. However, The Abhayaratna Trust is offering some bursary places. To request one, go to https://abhayaratnatrust.org/convention-bursary
When you book you are invited to donate to the bursary fund. Or you can add Gift Aid by giving directly on the Abhayaratna Trust site: www.abhayaratnatrust.org/donate. (Choose “Order Convention Bursary Donation” in the Appeal box)
Theme: A Mandala of Awakening
mandala (skt): circle, a Buddhist graphic symbol of the universe usually in the form of a circle divided into four separate sections. Specifically: a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side that is used chiefly as an aid to meditation. Merriam-Webster
bodhi (skt): awakening, the state of enlightenment attained by a Buddhist who has practiced the eightfold path and achieved salvation. Merriam-Webster
At the heart of the mandala lies Awakening. Contained within the mandala are the patterns and pathways that guide the heart’s longing for freedom towards its release. As a universe the mandala holds differing approaches to the centre in a way that is complementary, coherent and unifying.
On this Area Convention there will be at least three ways to enter the mandala:
(1) Sadhana as a Mandala of Awakening… Prakasha will give a talk each day introducing the main aspects of Sadhana. He will emphasise that Sadhana is not just about spiritual rebirth but combines all five elements of the System of Practice.
(2) Entering the Mandalas of Green Tara, Manjughosha, Padmasambhava and Vajrasattva… These four Sadhanas were originally Bhante’s main practices. He felt they have a coherence as a set. So each morning, one of these Sadhanas will be led through as a collective practice. In the evening we will recite the Sadhana as a puja.
We also hope to be able to report back on a project we have recently started in co-operation with the Public Preceptors College to develop Sadhana mentoring.
(3) Order Forums…The emphasis on Sadhana will make the convention more like a retreat. However, each afternoon there will be a series of Order forums. These are also mandalas. We place a Dharmic topic in the centre and then approach it from different directions. So we will be listening to different perspectives and working our way closer to ‘Samyak Drsti’, or Perfect Vision. This ‘mandala of Sangha’ is an opportunity to meet face to face and understand more fully the differing aspects of living the Dharma life. In this way we can help shape the future of the order with integrity and harmony, guided by the qualities of Awakening.
We are proposing to have order forums in the afternoons. In doing this we are trying to answer the question: how do we have discussion and debate as an order?
Our starting point is that most order members already have access to what they need to lead an effective Dharma life, in other words there aren’t many ‘big’ decisions (such as changing the name) that need to be taken. However, when issues or situations arise how do we have debate about them? Who needs to be there? How can decisions be made and action taken?
A couple of examples come to mind: (a) Some people have recently questioned the impact of Safeguarding on Triratna culture. Clearly there are questions here that need to be asked, understood and debated. How does this happen? (b)Throughout the Order’s history there has been a significant emphasis on shraddha, devotion, living and working together, Order gatherings. Some Order members are questioning the degree of collective practice required for awakening to happen. How do we have that debate?
How will it work?
Anyone can suggest a topic and run a forum. We will also ask some key groupings if they would like to suggest topics or run a forum; the order convenors, the Public Preceptors and the International Council. Remember they don’t have to be focused on what is wrong. If something is going well how can we have more of it?
There is a proposal form that helps you think through the elements of organising a forum. Fill it in online, or download in Word or PDF format and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org, who can be contacted in case of any questions.
Choosing a method of facilitation
Forums are more likely to be effective if well facilitated and we hope to try a number of different types of forum. There are many ways to try and have good discussion. It doesn’t just mean sitting in a room with one person speaking, and another responding. For example, someone can present an outline, it can be discussed in pairs or small groups to start with. There are all sorts of methodologies that help discussion go well so that not only the loudest voices or the quickest thinkers get to speak!
Who needs to be there?
If you’re suggesting a topic, think through who needs to be there to make the discussion meaningful. Who has a stake in this topic, or experience of it?
How long are they?
Generally, the slots are an hour long. But because we have several venues over four days, some forums could be double sessions and some forums could start on one day, allow for overnight reflection and end on the next day.
What happens afterwards?
Sometimes a good debate and dialogue can be it’s own reward and learning, but very often there will be next steps, proposals and recommendations. It’s going to be important that pathways to action are considered. Again if it’s a topic you’re interested in, it’s worth thinking beforehand who would take any recommendations forward, and how?