Below is a recollection of conference proceedings by different people (mainly Joy and Chandra). It is mainly for the benefit of people who could not get a chance to attend the conference due to various reasons, and for those who attended to enable them to refresh their memories and consolidate what they had learnt.
Warnings and disclaimers: The recollections are the individual views and memories of the individual participants, not intended to be the official proceedings of the conference in any way. The individual authors may have hidden or aware cognitive biases and prejudices etc.
if all of us share our own personal recollections it may balance out and give a fairer and more complete picture.
If you attended the conference and wish to share your experiences of
the sessions, please send us an email with your recollections (especially if something below has been misquoted or wrongly quoted), so we
can put it here as well.
Conference photos taken by Raymond and Oxana and Chandra are already available in the photos link on your left.
Chandra's page in Picasa has both Raymond's and his own photos
Oxana's photos are in Facebook, in the Manchester Buddhist conference 2007 group (Note: you need to have facebook id, and be member of Manchester network, to view it)
Here are some WAV audio files recorded of some of the meditations and talks (warning: they are quite huge, between 10 and 20 MB). Sorry we could not convert it to MP3, as some of the MP3 files turned out to be bigger than the WAV files. You can play it in Windows media player etc.
The files were recorded by Dennis and uploaded by Chandra
Talk on Buddhist community by Chris Ward
Talk on Buddhism in 21st century by Valerie Roebuck
Zen meditation session by Alan Smith
(Seems Google pages does not allow files bigger than 10 MB to be listed, and the Zen meditation session is of very poor sound quality, therefore there is only Lamrim at the moment, but Chandra has summarised Zen session pointwise)
Irene welcomed everyone, talked about health safety issues, read out the aims and participating centres of the conference.
( www.rigpa.org , some teachings available at http://www.rigpa.org/teachings%20library.html
) on the topic of Shamatha, bringing the mind home (I didnt attend
it but have attended their monthly meditations in Fallowfield, they
have let the mind be in natural state, just like a pool of muddy water
settles and becomes clear if you let it rest, same with mind).
Mindfulness of breathing led by Munisha from Manchester Buddhist centre, summarised by Joy who did not attend it. Still waiting for someone to properly summarise it.
Dhammakaya meditation, led by Phra Seri Sirisampanna from Wat Cheroen Bhavana, summarised by Chandra
Leave sufficient and convenient time for Meditation.
Meditation instructions :
Dhammakaya meditation, summarised by Joy
First imagine yourself in empty place with no light and no fear, you are alone in the room, then relax completely by imagining relaxation flow as a thick liquid from top of your head all the way down, relaxing every part of your body, every muscle from forehead, cheeks, eyebrows, neck, arms, back, stomach, legs etc from top to down. Once fully relaxed, imagine your body completely hollow and a shiny crystal ball of light at the centre of your body, 2 fingers above navel, concentrate on that point because its the most stable and balanced point. Light shines from centre of the ball, you can repeat silently to yourself the mantra SAMMA ARAHAM which means the highest state human can attain, the mantra sound is coming from that ball of light and spreading in all directions.
Lunch, summarised by Joy:
Lunch was most delicious food prepared by about 10 to 15 BLIA volunteers led by venerable, including Kai Zhu, May Jie Jie, Lin Tze, Flora Choy, Fo Guang Shan venerables including Ven Miao Heng, etc, who worked all morning to prepare the food and cleaned the dishes and packed the excess food (because we only had about 70 instead of 100 we were expecting). After lunch fruit and dessert was from Thai and Burmese and sri Lankan temple. Aunty Anoja a lay devotee from Ketumati, whose birthday it was today, brought some delicious mangoes for the venerables. (For the tea session, tea-biscuits-fruit juice-coffee etc was brought by all us organisers including Cathleen, Jayawan, Prabath, Ven Piyatissa and others).
Five discussion sessions, summarised by Joy based on the summaries heard by the proposers.
I didnt attend it. All I heard It was a
very complete and thorough meditation, starting with some Chi Gong exercises (such as raise and lower your arms in sync with breath) to raise the energy and warmth in the body and make it flexible for the meditation, then the meditation itself (consisting of count 1-1 at each in and out breath, then 2-2 etc until 10 and then start again from 1-1, if you forget then again start from 1 to 10), and ending
with message your hands and feet to get blood circulation flowing so it
develops both body and mind. For correct meditation the energy should be raised in the body and you should feel warmer after the meditation, not colder.
He said something of his background and tradition and his robes which shaped like paddy fields that they sew themselves. We first face each other, bow down to each other to show respect and also to the Buddha, light incense. The posture is most important because good body means good mind. Eyes are partly open not closed else feel sleepy and not wide open else you can hypnotise yourself and start seeing things, you are allowed to blink. face the wall so no distractions. Better to have some cushion below your bottom so you can have both knees touching ground, thats more stable, the lower back especially should be straight. When you sit erect the stomach is free to expand with breath too, that means breath is more free and natural. Hand position left hand on right is more natural, thumbs touching straight because thumb position is like a barometer of mental state, if tense then they push across each other, if too lose sleepy then they slack. have little thing with your shirt or trousers to rest hands on so its stable. leave the mind free. nothing specifically to do. you dont do zen with expecting to achieve anything, the whole aim is not to achieve but to let go of what we have, we are already enlightened but we dont realise it because our mind is so cluttered, once we let it go our natural enlightenment is realised.
Zazen meditation, led by Alan Smith, summarised by Chandra
The word Zen is the Japanese form of the Chinese word ch'an which itself is a Chinese rendition of the Sanskrit word dhyana, or meditation (taken from Wikipedia). Zen practise comes from Shakyamuni Buddha, an other name for Gautama Buddha. Buddhism traveled from India through Silk Route to China and then later to Japan. In modern times, there are three main paths of Buddhism, to which all schools of Japanese Buddhism belong: the Amidist (Pure Land) schools, Nichiren Buddhism, and Zen
Ana pana sati by Thai monk Mahaphra Pilapan in main shrine room, summarised by Joy
I didnt attend it, heard he talked a lot about the meditation, it was be very mindful of breathing in and breathing out, with every single breath. In the end he chanted blessings from metta sutta of loving kindness, Avero Homi, avappaja Homi (may I be free from disease)
Samatha meditation and talk by Roger Barnes, summarised by Chandra
Most meditation sessions I attended (Buddhist and Brahma Kumari centers) usually:
In each of these above schemes, there is a tool and there is an objective, and depend on what is the objective among meditation and talk, the other seem to become the tool. Roger proposed to split the half hour session into talk followed by meditation.
Samatha meditation by Roger Barnes, summarised by Joy
He described how we try to escape suffering
can be seen from meditation itself, when we feel slightly uncomfortable
we keep changing the posture every few minutes, we are like a hamster
running always , always escaping suffering and reality, thats the cycle
of samsara. the breath, as Samatha trust founder nai boonman said, is
like taking a trip, not acid trip but trip of experiencing the many
facets reality, the whole world can be experienced in the breath.
Samatha has 16 stages, Roger taught the first stage. sit in your own
comfortable posture cross legged. so we try to lenghten the breath till
we get longest comfortable breath. Then we count 1 to 9 as breath goes
in and we can see the stomach expanding and contarcting. mentally we
count 1 to 9 on inbreath and 9 back to 1 on outbreath. meditate for
5-10 minutes, at end silently recolect how the meditation went before
finally opening your eyes.
The venerables and order members chanted good wishes in different
traditions: Thai, tibetan, Japanese (for Zen), FWBO, Chinese, asking to
dedicate the merits and blessing all asentient beings and aspiring that
may all being attain enlightenment..