MITRA Buddhist Conference 2019

NOTICE: Change of Venue (Still at UTS). Please check the Venue section to find the new venue.

Socially Engaged, Spiritually Aware

The MITRA Conference is returning to round out 2019!

November 30th - December 1st

Spirituality is a term usually associated with a separation from the bustle of community engagement. When we think of spirituality, our current perspective of the term leads us to a concept of coming back to nature and the environment outside of the city, campus, or workplace and being away from others. However, spirituality can be found even while communicating with other people, and is just as important in our daily lives as logic and reasoning. This applies to social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Come and join us as we discover what it means to be socially engaged, but remain spiritually aware.

Speakers include: Dr. Eng Kong Tan, Ven. Bhante Suddhaso, Ven. Bhante Pandit, Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita, Acharya Andrew Williams and more...

Morning tea and lunch included.

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Proudly presented by MITRA Youth Buddhist Network and supported by UTSBMS


Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita

Ven. Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. He first encountered Buddhism in 1990 while living in India, and he began practicing meditation in 1993. In June 2001, he started formal monastic training, and in November 2002 he received higher ordination under the late Venerable U Silananda at the Tathagata Meditation Center in California. He has continued his Dhamma study and meditation practice for eight years under the guidance of Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society, West Virginia. He is the founder of the Uganda Buddhist Center in Uganda and has been teaching meditation in Africa, Europe, Brazil and the U.S. Besides spending time at the Buddhist Center in Uganda, he is the founder of Bodhi Education Foundation, Inc., in Maryland. His book, Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism on African Soil, tells the story of his religious work in Africa

Ven. BomHyon Sunim

Ven. BomHyon Sunim is ordained in the Korean Zen tradition. She returned to Australia in 2010 and since then, has been active in chaplaincy and spiritual care, managing the Prison Chaplaincy project and establishing the Buddhist Spiritual Care program for Buddhist Council Vic. In 2012, Sunim was appointed on the Religious Advisory Committee to the Aust. Defence Forces, which is responsible for recruitment and support of chaplains in the military; she continues to serve in this role. Concurrently, she managed the BodhiAhm Meditation Centre in Melbourne, offering teachings and retreats. Early 2017, Sunim moved to Sydney and now lives in a non-sectarian residence for ordained Buddhist women in the Western suburbs. She is the present Chair of the Australian Sangha Assoc, and also volunteers as a chaplain at Western Sydney University where she has commenced a research doctorate into the culture and practice of chaplaincy in Australian universities, with particular interest in the generational views of the 18-35 age demographic. While living in Korea, Sunim completed intensive training with Dr Marshall Rosenberg, founder of NonViolent Communication®. She is a postgraduate Fellow of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies program at Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and a certified mediator. Sunim’s deep commitment is to live and learn with others who are motivated, ecologically and compassionately, to support each other in right relationship to the planet and all beings.

Ven. Bhante Suddhāso

Ven. Bhante Suddhāso is a Buddhist monk living in New York City. The co-founder of Buddhist Insights, a new platform using technology to build community and facilitate access to reliable monastic teachings, his work aims to convey Buddhist concepts and their practical applicability to everyday life. Ven. Bhante Suddhāso practices meditation according to the original instructions given by the Buddha in the Pāli Canon – the oldest collection of Buddhist scriptures, which contains an enormous amount of very detailed and precise guidelines on how we can live our lives in a way that reduces our dissatisfaction and discontent.

Ven. Aileen Barry

Ven. Aileen Barry was ordained by Geshe Thubten Dawa in Australia in 2004. She worked for many years with prisoners through the FPMT Liberation Prison Project as well as offering service to various Dharma centres. She was part of the core administrative team for three of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to Australia. For the past seven years, Ven. Aileen has been Assistant to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo residing in India. She has just recently returned to Australia. Her aim is to complete more practice and retreat.

Dr Eng-Kong Tan

Dr Tan has been a past speaker and a highly valued supporter of Mitra since its inception. Dr Tan is a medical practitioner, consultant psychiatrist and Buddhist psychotherapist. He established a group practice, Metta Clinic, consisting of psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors in Pymble, Sydney more than 40 years ago. Dr Tan was a former Chair of Training to the PPAA and Chair to the Section of Psychotherapy of the FRANZCP. He was on the Training Committee/Faculty of the NSWIPP and ANZAP. Dr Tan is currently Adjunct Professor at the Nan Tien Institute, Wollongong in NSW. He is Founder President of the Aust Assoc of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists (AABCAP) and its first Director of Training of its two year Professional Training Course which is currently into its 5th Course. Dr Tan offers individual, couple and group psychotherapies. He runs mindfulness, personal development and analytic groups. He is available for individual and group supervision. He has given keynote addresses, seminars and workshops on Buddhism, Mindfulness, Spirituality and Psychotherapy in Australia and overseas.

Ven. Bhante Pandit

Pandit Bhikkhu ordained in the Thai Theravada Buddhist tradition in 1997 in a parkland monastery, Rajaburi Province. In 2001 he moved to Wat Paknam, Bangkok, where he completed degrees in the monastic university in Buddhist Psychology (BA) and Buddhist Studies (MA). He organised and ran the Little Bangkok Sangha group in Bangkok which was the only English speaking group in the capital. Interests include psychology, and the dhamma of Faerie Tales. Some videos can be found on YouTube at littlebangdotorg channel.

Ven. Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta

Venerable Ayya Yeshe has been ordained 18 years. She is an International Buddhist teacher, activist and contemplative. She is the director of Bodhicitta Dakini hermitage Australia and Bodhicitta Foundation India, a charity for ex 'untouchable' Indian Buddhists. Ayya is also a renowned sacred chants artist with 84,000 hits on YouTube and a published author of 'Everyday Enlightenment' - Harper Collins, and numerous articles in Tricycle, Eastern Door and other journals.

Dharma Master Andrew Williams

Dharma Master Andrew Williams has been a Dharma Teacher since 1998, initially in the USA and now in Australia. He has studied and received teachings in all of the three major Buddhist traditions of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, and is currently a resident teacher at the Kim Cang Temple and Tu An Temple in Melbourne, as well as occasionally teaching at various other temples, Dharma centres, Buddhist Clubs, retreats and in the general public. He is also a regular guest and keynote speaker at Buddhist and interfaith forums and dialogues, and co-host of the Voice of Faith radio program, as well as being a past prison and hospital chaplain. Andrew has written numerous Buddhist mini-musicals that have been performed at UN Vesak celebrations in Australia. These musicals have been released on cd and on the Internet for free distribution. Additionally, he has a vast catalogue of Dharma songs and songs of peace. Andrew has also acted as one of the editors of the Sanskrit/Vietnamese/English Buddhist Dictionary and the book Unveiling Your Sacred Truth, and will himself have a series of Dharma books published in 2019 & 2020. He is also a regular contributor to various Buddhist magazines and websites, as well as other social media sites and pages, and is the Editorial Director of The Interview Emagazine and He is actively engaged as a committee member of the Buddhist Federation of Australia, the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth, the World Alliance of Buddhists and the Casey Multifaith Network. In addition, in July 2017 Andrew was honoured with a World Buddhist Outstanding Leader award. He was born in Wales, UK, moving to Australia as a young child, and had an extensive career in the entertainment industry, predominately as a singer-songwriter and actor, before focusing 100% on Dharma studies, practise & teaching.

Rod Lee

Rod Lee has been involved in health care management and education for over 35 years. He is an instructor of Tai Chi and Chi Gong with 45 years of experience. He has developed and presented relaxation and meditation programs for Qantas and Malaysian airlines. Rod is a teacher and director of the Tibetan Buddhist Society, Sydney. He has a very engaging teaching style and presents the Buddhist teaching in a practical and relatable manner.

Ven. Bhante Akāliko

Ven. Bhante Akāliko Bhikkhu is an Australian monk in the Theravada forest tradition. Venerable Akāliko first encountered Buddhism as a teenager and spent over twenty years practising in different traditions both in Australia and overseas, before taking full ordination with Ajahn Brahm as his preceptor. Venerable Akāliko’s teaching brings the Buddha's timeless wisdom to today’s problems in practical ways, helping people find peace and happiness in their lives. He currently resides with his long-term teacher, Ven. Bhante Sujato, at Lokanta Vihara, (the Monastery at the End of the World) in Sydney, Australia.

Ven. Sister Steadiness

Sister True Steadiness studies as a Chinese herbalist, acupuncturist and Qigong instructor in Canada with further training in China. She ran her own clinic in Canada for several years until a serious traffic accident meant she wasn’t able to even hold a pencil and could only drink liquid food. After five years of healthy living: practicing qigong, cultivating a positive mind, and meditating, she had healed herself without Western or Eastern medical treatment. She then decided to become a Buddhist nun and was ordained in 2008 by her teacher Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh of Plum Village, France. With the guidance of her teacher, she perfected her mindfulness training and has gone on to discover better Qigong practices for self-healing. The Centre describes her Qigong as Healing Breath Qigong – self-healing with awareness of breathing. Her technique has helped those who have found no answers with other treatments to live healthy meaningful lives.

Jeff Oliver

Jeff Oliver is a dynamic and creative meditation teacher from Australia. He has been practicing vipassana ('insight') meditation for about 25 years, eight of which he was ordained as a Buddhist Monk in the Burmese tradition. Jeff has shared practical life skills and "mind management" in many areas of the world including Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe including Turkey. Jeff's teachings are based on both ancient and modern ways of mind training especially, such as appreciation, forgiveness, loving-kindness (metta), concentration, awareness and wisdom. Basically, Jeff is offering us a ‘toolbox’ of techniques to be used both in formal, intensive meditation and in any situation during our busy and complicated daily life. His style is open, approachable, friendly and gentle yet very effective for the modern seeker of truth.

Ven. Sister Ayya Soma

Ven. Sister Ayya Soma is an Italian Buddhist monk ordained in the Theravāda tradition. As the co-founder of Buddhist Insights, a non-profit organization connecting people with monastics in NYC, she has learned the Dharma through the perspective of monks and nuns of all different traditions, and incorporates aspects from all of them in her own practice. Her spiritual path is inspired by the social engagement of her preceptor, Venerable Paññāvati Bhikkhuni; by the knowledge and wisdom of her mentor, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi; and by the open-mindedness of her teacher, Ven. Bhante Suddhāso.

Hendrik Lianto (MC)

Hendrik encountered Buddhism in high school though books and literature. Whilst studying in university, Hendrik became more active in Vihara Vimala Dharma in Bandung Indonesia. He took refuge in the Triple Gem in 2001 and obtained Bodhisaranovattho as his Buddhist name. A Buddhist program radio presenter, Hendrik also launched a Buddhist singing album titled Satu Harapan ('One Hope'). In Australia, Hendrik was Dharma Officer and President for MacBuddhi as well as active in MITRA

Tina Ng (MC)

Tina Ng is the Founder and President of the Metta Centre, which provides a space for Buddhist teachers to share the Buddha's teachings to the public. Tina is also the Principal Solicitor of Metta Legal, a law firm that deals with cases relating to family law, child protection, property, civil litigation and guardianship matters. She is an accredited mediator at Metta Resolution, which provides mediation, training and coaching to resolve conflict in the community and within families. Tina is serving her second year on the board of the Buddhist Council of NSW, an is active in the Buddhist community supporting various causes. Tina has a keen interest in supporting the youth, and runs mentoring programs through her law firm and projects. She has participated in Buddhist events as coordinator, advisor, Master of Ceremony (MC), and auctioneer at charity functions. She has shared the Buddha’s teachings in conferences, talks, workshops, and in her writings.

Rev. Dr. Stephanie Dowrick (Panel Moderator)

Reverend Stephanie Dowrick, PhD, has been a leader in sexual politics and publishing and continues to be a leader and pioneer in interfaith, post-denominational spirituality and inter-religious understanding. She has been writing and teaching from a spiritually inclusive perspective for more than 30 years and, since 2006, has been leading one of the world’s most diverse spiritual communities, with its home first at Sydney’s Pitt Street Uniting Church, and now at InnerSpace Centre, Five Dock, in addition to its retreat home at Mana Retreat Centre in New Zealand.

Writing has been her principal occupation since moving to Australia from the UK in 1983. Prior to that, she was a highly successful London-based publisher, working for New English Library, Triad Paperbacks (owned by Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus and the Bodley Head), prior to co-founding, in 1978, The Women’s Press, London, where she was the first Managing Director and, later from Australia, an active and influential Chairperson.

Stephanie Dowrick has written with rare success across a number of media platforms. Her book-length writing includes two highly praised, internationally published novels, Running Backwards Over Sand and Tasting Salt. She is probably best known for her genuinely life-changing books that offer readers a rare level of depth, insight and accessibility. Those non-fiction books include ground-breaking, international best-sellers, Intimacy and Solitude, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials, The Universal Heart, and a deeply-researched study of spirituality and poetry centred on the writing of Rainer Maria RilkeIn the Company of Rilke.  She has also contributed to readers’ in-depth, socially and spiritual-conscious enquiry with Creative Journal Writing, Free Thinking and Everyday Kindness. Her more recent books are the highly acclaimed Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another and Heaven on Earth – a book of universally-accessible prayers and on prayer. She has also written for children, including Katherine Rose Says No, and her most recent picture book, The Moon Shines Out of the Dark. Her principal publishers are Allen and Unwin, Sydney, and Tarcher/Penguin, New York. Her books have been translated into many languages.

Stephanie Dowrick graduated with a PhD from Western Sydney University’s Writing and Society Research Group in 2009, writing her research thesis on the power of poetry and spirituality – that later became her internationally lauded, In the Company of Rilke. She had been ordained as an interfaith minister by the New Seminary, New York, in 2005; in 2019, she was awarded a D.Min by the New Seminary in recognition of her many years of interfaith ministry, teaching and writing, and with particular reference to Seeking the Sacred and Heaven on Earth as essential references for multi-cultural, culturally and socially diverse communities.



NOTE: Venue has been changed

The new venue is at The Underground on Level 3 of Building 1 - UTS Tower

UTS is just five minutes walk from Central Station


  1. 09:00 AM - 09:30 AM : Opening

    MC Welcome and President Introduction

  2. 09:30 AM - 10:15 AM : Social Problems, Spiritual Solutions: A Buddhist Perspective - Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita

    The modern world is plagued with various disharmonies from every nook and corner. There are numerous disharmonies in the world, however, they can be divided into a few categories in order to underpin their causes. To name a few, political disharmony such civil wars are caused by different mental defilements, political ideologies and agendas. Socio-economic disharmony such as family disputes and crimes are caused by mental defilements and economic insufficiency. Religious disharmony is due to wrong views, fundamentalism and conflicting world views; and internal disharmony are due to conflicting interests and mental impurities. Drawing from the Pāli canon, commentaries and other Buddhist literary works, this talk explores the Buddhist solutions to the causes of disharmony in the current world.

  3. 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM : Morning Tea
  4. 10:45 AM - 11:30 AM : Engagement through Fearlessness and Tenderness - Ven. BomHyon Sunim

    Buddhism teaches us that life is precious. If we wish to use our limited time on earth to create a truly meaningful existence there is no better foundation than the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. The first Noble Truth tells us that life is suffering. Karmic patterns are created by the struggles of the human predicament, that condition the behaviour of the individual and the subsequent rounds of birth and rebirth. But this karmic inheritance is also experienced as social and collective consequences. Specific to time and place, different cultures arise, whether of a group, a community, social class or civilisation; or a global community as we experience today. The great web of life is in constant motion, held in a vast network of light-reflecting jewels in a seamless relationship of interdependence, karma rising at points where time and space intersect. These intersections mark the coming and going of all things: continents, oceans, planets, universes, great ideas and civilisations -for these too, suffer the rounds of birth and rebirth, revolution and stability. In the turning of the Dharma Wheel the Buddha shows us a path of release from the round of rebirths – karmic imprints fading like the melting morning dew. Today, we are engaged in another great turning, one which calls our hearts to bear witness to the deep collective suffering of this world – the suffering of all beings and the planet itself.

  5. 11:30 AM - 11:45 AM : PAL Buddhist School - Panha Pal and Helen Lam
  6. 11:45 AM - 12:30 PM : Love is the Presence of Justice - Ven. Ayya Yeshe

    The unprecedented challenge of living in the age of climate crisis

    The transition from a culture of dominance and profit to a culture of nurturance and justice is the transition we need to make if we are to save the planet and truly reach inner wholeness. We meditate to see the truth, and once we see the truth, we must act. This is why spirituality must include a social justice aspect – because justice is how love looks in public. How do we embody justice, practice joyfully and authentically and have peace and self care in such challenging times?

  7. 12:30 PM - 13:30 PM : Lunch
  8. 13:30 PM - 14:30 PM : Breakout Workshop Session 1
  9. 14:30 PM - 15:00 PM : Afternoon Tea
  10. 15:00 PM - 15:45 PM : My Mind's Such a Sweet Thing - Ven. Bhante Pandit

    In this session, we will gain an insight into what is the path, and what is not the path, and how it changes the context of life in the world. We will be surprised to discover that with training and proper guidance, the practice of mind training is quite simple and it gets easier.

  11. 15:45 PM - 16:00 PM : Intermezzo Performance - Global Sanctuary for Elephants & Dharma Master Andrew Williams
  12. 16:00 PM - 17:00 PM : Day One Panel Session - Spiritually Aware through Becoming a Balanced Individual

    Question and Answer session with:

    Ven. Bhante Pandit

    Ven. BomHyon Sunim

    Ven. Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta

    Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita

  1. 08:00 AM - 09:00 AM : Registration
  2. 09:15 AM - 10:00 AM : The Root of the Problem - Ven. Bhante Suddhāso

    When faced with pandemic social problems, it’s easy to get caught up in treating the symptoms rather than the causes. Ven. Bhante Suddhāso will explain how to get to the root of the problem – both in the external world and in the depths of our own minds.

  3. 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM : Meditation - led by Ven. Sister Ayya Soma
  4. 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM : Morning Tea
  5. 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM : Spiritual Therapies Enhancing Social Awareness - Dr. Eng-Kong Tan

    What brings about social well-being? It begins with improved interpersonal relating skills.
    From Buddhism, cultivating the Four Immeasurables is the basis of first intrapersonal and then interpersonal relating. Loving-kindness, metta, is the antidote to ill-will, compassion, karuna, to cruelty, altruistic joy, mudita to despair and equanimity, upekkha to chaos.

    Western psychology today offers psychotherapy based on the bonding between a caregiver and a child as the metta medicine. Compassion-focused therapies are spreading well, especially self-compassion. Positive psychotherapy is the newest form of therapy and it emphasises the pleasant, good and meaningful joyful life. Emotional regulation has become a centrepiece in the treatment of a whole range of disorders and is similar to the cultivation of equanimity in its initial aim for calm.

    Both healing traditions of Buddhism and Psychotherapy intersect in their contributions to peace and contentment from the home to the workplace, society and finally, the world.

  6. 11:45 AM - 12:30 PM : Equality & Equal Opportunity are Essential - Dharma Master Andrew Williams

    Equality and equal opportunity for all are essential to a peaceful and harmonious environment, both individually and collectively. However, it is important to note that equality and equal opportunity, like everything, begin in the mind of the individual. For us all to have peaceful and harmonious homes, communities, regions, countries and the whole world, all people need to have equal opportunity to have access to the essentials in life, for there to be equality everywhere, all of the time. Everyone has the basic right to have clean air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and sufficient shelter to protect us from the elements. We all have the right to have equal opportunity in regards to education, medical assistance, work, transport and the like, as well as to have freedom of thought, speech and action, and the right to live. It is life that all people treasure the most. Knowing this, how can we harm each other or deprive each other of the basic and essential rights and freedoms? Inequality breeds frustration, confusion and conflict, whilst equality breeds contentment, peace and understanding. So let’s create and maintain a mind, as well as homes, communities, regions, countries and a world of equality and equal opportunity for all, and a peaceful and harmonious environment for us all to live in. While we know all of these in theory, the question is how do we apply these to our lives? We will inquire and explore the answer(s) together in this session.

  7. 12:30 PM - 13:30 PM : Lunch
  8. 13:30 PM - 14:30 PM : Breakout Workshop Session 2
  9. 14:30 PM - 15:15 PM : Breakout Workshop Session 3
  10. 15:15 PM - 15:45 PM : Afternoon Tea
  11. 15:45 PM - 16:30 PM : Day Two Panel Session - Social Engagement Starts with a Strong Mind

    Question and Answer session with:

    Ven. Bhante Suddhaso

    Ven. Sister Ayya Soma

    Acharya Andrew Williams

    Dr. Eng Kong Tan

    Ven. Aileen Barry

  12. 16:30 PM - 17:00 PM : Closing Ceremony

View Talk Details

Our Past Conferences

The Mitra Conference has been a long tradition involving the Buddhist Community from all over Sydney and Australia since our first conference in 2003. After much anticipation, we bring you our  10th Mitra Buddhist Conference in 2019. Here's a clip from one of our previous conferences to get a taste of what you may be in for.



Tickets include access to all talks, workshops, a vegetarian lunch box, morning and afternoon tea.

Two Day : $95
One Day : $75
Concession Two Day : $65
Concession One Day : $45
Benefactor: $120

No Charge for Monastics Attendees

Eventbrite - Mitra Conference 2019

Payment can be made via credit card or direct debit from your bank account using your PayPal account. For those of you who do not have a PayPal account please contact for alternative payment arrangements.


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