The Mitra conference will be returning in 2018!
History is made up of stories of individuals, communities and events that shape the future and bind all of humanity together. The 2018 Mitra Conference brings together an impressive cast of speakers to explore and celebrate the stories of the past and the stories of today that make up our common story. With speakers from all the major Buddhist traditions, this two-day conference will be filled with talks, performances and workshops. Come along to hear of others’ spiritual journeys and to share your own, and to be a part of the creation of our common story. Learn about insights to navigate through the modern world, and find a way to reconnect with what is truly of value and meaningful to our lives.
Where is your journey taking you?
Speakers include Ven. Ani Rinchen Khandro, Ven. Ayya Tathaloka, Ven. Thubten Gyatso, Ven Ajahn Sujato, Ven. Bom Hyon Sunim, Ven. Ayya Yeshe, and more....
Special video address by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Lunch and Morning Tea included.
Proudly Presented By Mitra
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi (Video Address)
Scholar and Founder of Buddhist Global Relief
Chuang Yen Monastery
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk, scholar, and translator of texts from the Pali Canon. He lived in Asia for 24 years, primarily in Sri Lanka, and now lives and teaches at Chuang Yen Monastery in upstate New York. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor. His most recent publications are The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony (2016) and The Suttanipata and Its Commentaries (2017). In 2008, together with several of his students, Ven. Bodhi founded Buddhist Global Relief, a nonprofit organization supporting hunger relief, sustainable agriculture, and education in countries suffering from chronic poverty and malnutrition.
Venerable Thubten Gyatso
Director of Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery
Born in Melbourne in 1946, Adrian Feldmann graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in medicine. After practising medicine in Australia and overseas, he travelled for several years through Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eventually finding his way to a Tibetan monastery in Nepal. After much study and soul-searching, he became ordained in the 1970s by Lama Thubten Yeshe as the Buddhist monk, Thubten Gyatso. Since then he has run a free medical practice in Nepal, taught Buddhism and meditation in Nepal, Mongolia, Taiwan, USA, France, New Zealand and Australia, establishing monasteries in France and in Bendigo. He was one of the first westerners to become a monk in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is an FPMT veteran who has been instrumental in establishing a number of Dharma centres in France, Taiwan, Australia and Mongolia. As well as teaching extensively around the world, Venerable Gyatso is the author of The Perfect Mirror - Reflections on Truth and Illusion and A Leaf in the Wind - A Life's Journey.
Venerable Ayya Tathaloka
Co-founder of Aranya Bodhi
Dhammadharini Monastery, California
Venerable Ayya Tathaloka is an American-born member of the Theravada Buddhist Monastic Sangha with a background in Zen and Theravada Buddhism. Venerable Tathaloka began her journey into monastic life in 1987 as a teenager. After nearly a decade in Asia as an anagarika, ten precept nun and then samaneri (novice nun), she received Higher Ordination as a Bhikkhuni with the Sri Lankan Bhikkhu Sangha led by the late Ven. Havanapola Ratanasara in Southern California in 1997. In 2005, she co-founded Dhammadharini “Women Upholding the Dhamma,” the first Theravada Buddhist women's monastic community in the Western United States, in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California. In 2006, she was awarded an “Outstanding Woman in Buddhism,” and in 2009, Ayya Tathaloka became the first contemporary western woman to be appointed a Bhikkhuni Preceptor (Pavattini-Upajjhaya) in the Theravada.
Inspired by the Forest traditions in Buddhism and environmental concerns, in 2010 she co-founded a simple, off-grid Bhikkhuni hermitage on the Sonoma Coast named Aranya Bodhi: Awakening Forest Hermitage, and in 2016 the Dhammadharini Sonoma Mountain Bhikkhuni Arama. In addition to meditation and Dhamma, her work focuses on support for the revival and renaissance of the Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha as an integral part of the Fourfold Sangha of the Buddha through scholarship of Bhikkhuni Vinaya and bhikkhunis’ history or “her-story.” The 2600 Year Anniversary of the Bhikkhuni Sangha of 2016-2017 found Venerable Tathaloka teaching and working for the Buddha Sasana not only in North America, but also in Australasia at the Bhikkhuni monasteries in Australia and with the newly-founded New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust, as well as on initial and follow up visits to the “Dhamma Isle” of her Buddhist ordination heritage, Sri Lanka.
Founder of SuttaCentral.net
Buddhist Society of Western Australia
Venerable Sujato is an Australian Theravanda Buddhist monk ordained in a monastery in Chieng Mai in Thailand during the 1990s. He played in a successful rock band called Martha’s Vineyard for many years before he joined an intensive Buddhist retreat in Thailand which introduced him to the Buddha’s teachings.
Besides spending 3 years in the Bodhinyana monastery with Ajahn Brahm, he also spent several years in remote hermitages and caves in Thailand in Malaysia.
Venerable Sujato has taught the Dhamma and meditation to a varied audience in Australia and internationally such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, The USA, Germany, Norway, India, Hongkong, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and many others, and has spoken at several major international Buddhist conferences and events. He also helped to establish the Santi Forest Monastery in Bundanoon, where he was the abbot for many years.
Venerable Sujato has become well known for his articulate and support for the fully ordained Bhikkhuni lineage. A special field of interest is the role of women in Buddhism and particularly the revival of the Bhikkhuni order within the Theravada tradition. As well as being a meditator and teacher, Venerable Sujato is a scholar of early Buddhism, with several books and essays of original and often groundbreaking research. He contributes to Buddhism in Australia through a wide variety of forums and organisations, including the Australian Sangha Association, Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Australia Partnership of Religious Organisations, Australian Association of Buddhist Councillors and Psychotherapists, Australian Association of Buddhist Studies, and Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.
Venerable Ani Rinchen Khandro
Kagyu Samye Dzong Edinburgh
Venerable Ani Rinchen Khandro was born and educated in Manchester. As a young woman, intent on becoming a writer, she moved to London and worked as a script writer for films, as well as writing features for magazines.
A love of travel took her round the world to the South Pacific and Bali, where she started her own design company producing clothes and textiles for stores in the US, the UK and Australia. Although successful in these and other creative ventures, she found no lasting satisfaction. Her spiritual journey took her to Scotland, where she attended teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Samye Ling Monastery. This proved to be a turning point which led to her meeting with Samye Ling’s founder, Akong Tulku Rinpoche, who became her root Guru, and his brother Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, her preceptor and guide.
In 1993, she took ordination and was given the name Ani Rinchen Khandro. Studying with many great Lamas of the Kagyu Lineage, as well as working for the ROKPA charity and the Holy Island Project, Ani Rinchen’s life at Samye Ling was both full and meaningful. In 2003, she was one of twelve women who entered the first long retreat on Holy Isle. After completing the three and a half- year retreat, she was commissioned by Akong Tulku Rinpoche to write Samye Ling - The Story, a book commemorating the history and 40th Anniversary of Kagyu Samye Ling. Shortly afterwards, she was appointed by Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe Rinpoche to establish a Dharma Centre in the Scottish capital.
Having received the blessing of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ani Rinchen Khandro found a beautiful building, which is now Kagyu Samye Dzong, Edinburgh. The Centre provides an ideal space for the Buddha Dharma to flourish. It also offers meditation, qigong and yoga classes for people of all faiths. As well as teaching and overseeing activities at the Centre, Ani Rinchen is the Honorary Buddhist Chaplain for Edinburgh University, the Buddhist Representative of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, and a frequent contributor to radio and television faith programmes. She is keenly aware of humanitarian and environmental issues, for which she works to raise awareness through publicity, concerts and poetry.
Venerable Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta
Buddhist Nun, Activist, Social Worker
Venerable Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta ordained as a nun in 2001. She discovered Buddhism whilst travelling in Nepal and India at the age of 17 on a search for the meaning of life. Coming back to Australia after a year of study and practice in monasteries, she helped run a Buddhist Centre in Sydney and trained with her teacher Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe for five years whilst working at the same time.
Upon ordaining as a Buddhist nun at the age of 23, Venerable Yeshe found that there was very little care or support for western monastics, people preferring to access Tibetan Lamas who are already trained. She stayed with various friends and in garden sheds while living on a mendicant tradition of alms round to obtain food. She engaged in teaching Dharma in HIV hospices, schools, drug and alchohol rehabilitation centres and trained as a yoga teacher.
Coming to India in 2004, Venerable Yeshe studied for two years in a monastery, but felt a need to make Buddhism accessible and socially engaged, whilst still trying to maintain her contemplative way of life. She met Indian Buddhists in 2005 and has been working with them ever since. Her teachers are His Holiness Sakya Trizin (the second highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism) and Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, the nobel peace prize poet and peace activist, under which she took full ordination as a Bhikkhuni.
Venerable Ayya Yeshe Bodhicitta is the author of 'Everyday Enlightenment' published by Harper Collins and is featured in the documentaries 'life beyond the begging bowl' and 'Through the Eastern Gate'. She has also made a Buddhist chanting CD with one of Australia's top world music groups - India Jiva called 'Dakini'.
Venerable Chang Xu
Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association Australia
Venerable Chang Xu (known as Shi, Chang Xu) was ordained by the late Venerable Master Sheng Yen as a Novice monk in 2007. For the next 5 years (from 2007 to 2011), he studied at the Dharma Drum Mountain Sangha University, Buddhist Study Faculty. In 2010, Venerable Chang Xu took the full Ordination as a Bhikkhu at Keelung Monastery, Taiwan. He has been involved with a variety of roles as follows: Dharma Drum Mountain Social Caring Centre (2011), Director of the Dharma Drum Mountain Fellowship, Fellowship Service Department (2012 - 2015), Director of the Dharma Drum Mountain Management and Planning Department (2013 - 2014), Vice Executive Officer and Vice President of Dharma Drum Mountain Fellowship for several years. Currently, he is the
Monastic Advisor for the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association, Australia.
Zen Roshi and Psychotherapist
Sydney Zen Centre and Blue Gum Sangha
Subhana Barzaghi has been practicing Buddhist meditation for 40 years. She is a Zen Buddhist Roshi and resident teacher of the Sydney Zen Centre. Subhana is a senior Insight Dharma teacher and founder of Blue Gum Sangha Sydney and the Kuan Yin Meditation Centre in Lismore. Subhana teaches regular intensive Zen and Insight Meditation retreats throughout Australia & New Zealand. Subhana is an experienced psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and trainer for AABCAP (Aust.Assoc.Buddhist Counsellors & Psychotherapists). She leads a variety of professional courses and workshops in cultivating the Boundless Heart of – Love, Compassion, Joy & Equanimity.
Venerable Thubten Chokyi
Director of Liberation Prison Project
Venerable Chokyi is the Spiritual Program Coordinator for Vajrayana Institute (VI) and one of their esteemed teachers. She is also the Director of Liberation Prison Project, a social services project affiliated to FPMT that offers spiritual advice and teachings, as well as books and materials, to people in prison interested in exploring, studying and practising Buddhism. Venerable Chokyi is a member of the Women's Interfaith Network in Sydney.
Matt Orsborn was first introduced to Buddhism and meditation by his uncle in his early teens. After spending many years on DIY meditation from books, he took the plunge and ordained as a monastic in the Chinese Fo Guang Shan tradition in 2000, with the Dharma name Huifeng. He focused on learning meditation practices and studying Mahāyāna and Theravāda scripture in classical Chinese, Sanskrit and Pāli during his nearly 10 years in Buddhist seminaries and an MA and PhD at the University of Hong Kong. For the last 6 years he has taught as a faculty member at the Dept. of Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan, has run the annual Buddhist Monastic Retreat summer programs in Kaohsiung, Los Angeles and Wollongong, and translates classic scripture and contemporary scholarship into English. To facilitate a return to western society, he recently returned to lay life, where he hopes to further the ongoing reception of Buddhist thought and practice into the West.
Venerable Bom Hyon Sunim
Buddhist Nun and University Chaplain
Jongbopsa Korean Temple
Venerable Bom Hyon Sunim was first ordained in the Theravada Forest tradition in the 90’s, and later took Bhikkhuni precepts in the Korean Seon (Zen) tradition in 2000. Returning to Australia in 2009, she managed the prison chaplaincy project for the Buddhist Council of Victoria and subsequently established the Buddhist Spiritual Healthcare project in conjunction with the peak body, Spiritual Health Victoria. Over several years, she trained many Spiritual Care volunteers from all Buddhist traditions and various cultural backgrounds. In 2013, Sunim was invited to represent the Buddhist community on the newly-forming Multifaith Religious Advisory Committee to the Australian Defence Forces; she continues to serve in this role. She was also the resident Bhikkhuni at the Bodhi Ahm Buddhist Meditation Centre in Melbourne, offering regular teachings and retreats until the property was sold in 2016.
Jan 2017, Sunim took up residence at the Jongbopsa Korean Temple in Sydney. She currently serves as a Chaplain at Western Sydney University and offers teachings at various Buddhist and interfaith centres in Sydney and Melbourne. Sunim is also very active in interfaith, engaging with others who are spiritually and ecologically motivated to live in right relationship to the planet and all beings.
Sunim’s prior professional background is in education, psychology and social work; with post-graduate training in counselling & psychotherapy, group work, and conflict resolution/mediation. She is a Post-Graduate Fellow of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies Program at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and completed intensive training in Korea with Dr Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of “Non Violent Communication”. Venerable Bom Hyon Sunim has trained many professionals, teachers, prisoners and community organisations in Mindfulness and Compassionate Communication skills.
Vipassana Meditation Teacher
Jeff Oliver is from the Central Coast and began practicing Vipassana in 1992. Between 1993 and 2002, he was a Buddhist monk in the Burmese Theravada tradition. These days, he is a freelance meditation teacher sharing in Europe, Asia and here in Australia. His motto is to LIVE and LEARN and LOVE!
Venerable Thubten Choden
Buddhist Nun & Counsellor
Venerable Thubten Choden grew up in Sydney, and first met Buddhism while studying archaeology at University. She met her Teacher Genla Venerable Thubten Tenzin in 2001 and was ordained by Geshe Thubten Dawa in 2003. Living in a Sangha community in regional NSW, Wellington Buddhist Centre (Tharpa Choeling Australia), and under the guidance of her Teacher, Ven Choden has had the opportunity to work within the wider community, combining qualifications in counselling, mental health and community services with her Dharma practice.
President and Founder
Metta Centre and Metta Legal
Tina Ng is the Founder and President of the Metta Centre in Bankstown, Sydney. She is also the Founder and Principal Solicitor of Metta Legal. Metta Centre’s aim is to support lay practice in a meaningful and holistic way: the Metta Wellbeing Centre offers free Dhamma talks, meditation and yoga classes; the Metta Business Hub is to encourage professionals and businesses to bring the Buddha’s teachings into our work and to provide mentoring opportunities; the Metta Community is to connect like-minded Buddhist practitioners with social causes. Metta Legal is an example of merging one’s spiritual practice with the practice of law.
Tina hopes these organisations can support lay practice of the Buddha’s teachings in our daily life, and inspire practitioners to realise that our Buddhist practice does not need to start after we finish work, but that our work is our spiritual practice. Tina also enjoys writing for print and online publications. You can view some of Tina’s writings at www.littlepieceofcalm.com
James Conigrave is a PhD student at Australian Catholic Unviersity and Research Associate at the University of Sydney.
He is about to submit his PhD which has explored how belief in the ability to change can reduce the harmful effects of low self-esteem. He is currently researching patterns of drinking in Aboriginal Australian communities. He has presented his work at international conferences.
James has had a regular meditation practice for five years and is particularly interested in how meditation can be incorporated into public health programs. He hopes to study what factors help people begin and maintain regular practice.
NSW Dickens Society
Walter Mason is the Vice President of the NSW Dickens Society and a well-known travel writer and speaker.
He is the author of “Destination Saigon” and “Destination Cambodia,” both published by Allen and Unwin, and is a popular teacher of writing, mindfulness and creativity.
As well as leading tours to Southeast Asia, Walter teaches Cambodian, Vietnamese and Buddhist history.
He is a regular lecturer at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and at Ashfield and Sutherland Libraries, where he talks on literary subjects including E. F. Benson, Noel Coward and H. V. Morton.
Walter has spoken at festivals and conferences around the world, and is a regular voice on the ABC. Walter wrote his Honours Thesis on the child in the fiction of Sumner Locke Elliott.
The Mitra Conference has been a long tradition involving Buddhist Community from all over Sydney and Australia since our first conference 2003. After much anticipation, we bring you our 9th Mitra Buddhist Conference in 2018. Here's a clip from one of our previous conferences to get a taste of what you may be in for.