During August three International Order conventions were held in England: a men’s convention (over 200 attended) at Adhisthana, a combined convention (just under 600 attended) at Wymondham College in East Anglia and a women’s convention (about 180 attended) again at Adhisthana. One of the highlights of all 3 conventions was the number of Indian Order members who were able to attend – over 60.
The Combined Convention is so large it cannot be held at Adhisthana, but Triratna has held conventions at Wymondham College over many years now. Converting the school’s gym into a massive shrine room has became a fine art, which takes a dedicated team of volunteers 2-3 very full days. Collective practice in such numbers is inspiring, especially chanting, devotional practices and meditating together. On this convention the focus for the talks and discussion groups was on our practice in the modern world and what we would like to see flourish within Triratna. Talks on racial diversity, climate change and how to fund these and other Dharmic activities were radical and most timely.
The women’s convention back at Adhisthana was more meditative and retreat-like. Talks were given by Dharmacharini on their approach and experience of certain visualisation practices and then we were led through each practice. There was also one talk on Triratna over the next 50 years and what we need to cultivate so that the Order and Movement will be strong and able to offer the Dharma to the world in which there is so much intense suffering.
Throughout all 3 conventions the strength, creativity and vitality of the Order were palpable and inspiring to be part of. This augurs well for the future and certainly felt that it exemplified the truth of the Buddha’s teaching that for the sangha to meet in large numbers and in harmony will promote its well being and longevity.