Sydney, Australia –
The 16th International Sakyadhita Conference held at Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia. under the concept and supervision of Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the President, Sakyadhita International. “New Horizons in Buddhism” was this year them of the conference and explores changes within Buddhist circles worldwide. Also, included talks, workshops, meditations and discussions led by women from across the world, engaged in Buddhist practice, learning and service. Lot of Bhikkhunis & devotees also participated this grand occasion.
It is traditional at these Conferences that the first session be about the host country, in this case Buddhism in Australia. Dr Anna Halafoff spoke on the history and the role women have played; we heard about some of the key early nuns and teachers. Most Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim told her story of the pioneering days at Wat Buddha Dhamma then her 20 years in Korean nunneries and the last 20 years establishing a center and working In Victoria. Most Venerable Miao You spoke of humanistic Buddhism and the development of the Nan Tien temple in Woollongong and its role in the community. Di Cousins told us of the contrast between the Australia she was born into and Australia now, how Buddhism has taken root and grown here in such a short time. She also explained her path and the teachings she had attended and how that has inspired to work for Buddhism in Australia, to be part of various committees but also to work more broadly for humanity such as her work with refugees. Finally, Anna Markey told of the role of a lay teacher in smaller communities.
The Conference was intense, sometimes challenging, nourishing and insightful. There were so many inspiring moments. Academic papers on Women’s Buddhist lineages and the Environment, workshops on Dharma Lighthouses, Trauma to Flourishing, tai chi, sweet compassionate and meaningful clarity Dharma talks.
Dr. Paula Arai’s topic was ‘Healing Art: Seeing Women’s Heart of Wisdom and Compassion’. Her poetic and storytelling presentation style combined with the insightful art of Iwasaki Tsuneo and the profound wisdom of the Heart Sutra made the presentation deeply moving. Sakyadhita Conference participants who choose to visit temple in Wollongong is the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.
The Sakyadhita Australia AGM was held during a break in Conference proceedings. President Suzanne Franzway gave an informative account of the Committee’s progress and activities over the past year. Treasurer Sharon Thrupp reported we are in a sound financial position and secretary Lydia Brown told us that interest and membership in Sakyadhita Australia is increasing. All positions were spilled, and a new Committee was chosen with Helen Richardson as the new President, Jo Murphy as Vice President, Sharon Thrupp continuing as Treasurer.
At the closing ceremony, the performance by Most Venerable Thubten Chökyi from Sravasti Abbey on Santideva’s verses based on the tune of the American anthem brought the house down.
After visit to Sydney, Australia
Official Photographs by Olivier Adam