We are now moving towards the most important retreat in the Amida
calendar, the Bodhi Retreat. This is a time of reflection and
celebration as well as a time in the year when people receive
ordination, become Amida shu members and take refuge. It is also an
opportunity for the Sangha to come together to engage in an extended
period of devotion and nembutsu practice.
This year, to build on the success of the 72 hour nembutsu intensives
over the last two years, we will be chanting continuously for a period
of ten days between November 22nd through to December 2nd. This
chanting intensive precedes the Bodhi Retreat and follows the Reihai
Sesshin. All three periods can be considered as a whole, connected by
the spirit of devotion to Amida and an expression of gratitude for his
Here's just over an hour of the 72 hour continuous nembutsu chant from the 2010 Bodhi Retreat at The Buddhist House. Do join in -
Namo Amida Bu!
As the first part of the Bodhi Retreat at the Buddhist House, the Amida sangha chant the nembutsu, Namo Amida Bu.....this started at 12 mid-day on Wednesday and continues until mid-day Saturday, GMT. Kuvalaya is taking part. You can join in at a distance, as Sujatin is doing (she can't be with them in person, due to ill health and much snow and ice) by watching the video here.
“Shin Buddhism has a long history of scholarship and academic learning — but that won’t be the focus of this book. Instead, I’m just going to talk about Buddhism in the manner that regular Pure Land Buddhists have always approached it; through story, anecdote, reflection — and humor”. Thus states Jeff Wilson in his introduction; in my view this is an accurate description of what is in the can. And as one who identifies as a Pure Land Buddhist I enjoyed and appreciated what I read.
The book comprises some 80 chapters, most of which are one to two pages in length. There is a foreword by Mark and Taitetsu Unno, Shin priests, respected teachers and writers, which locates Jodo Shinsu (Shin) Buddhism in the context of Buddhist history, geography and core teachings. The foreword and the book itself serve as an excellent introduction to the core ideas and the feeling tone of Pure Land Buddhism.
On the 9th December 2009, in an historic and beautiful ceremony presided over by Dharmavidya at the Buddhist House, Narborough, the following good people took various vows, refuges, precepts, new responsibilities and spiritual commitments as follows:
Prasada became an Acharya;
Modgala became an Acharya;
Sujatin, of Amida Newcastle, became an Acharya;
Rachel Abel, of Amida Newcastle,
became an Order Member and was ordained as a Ganko-sha with the name Amita Kuvalaya;
Orna Matri became an Order Member and was ordained as a Ganko-sha with the name Amita Pundarika;
Yaakov Matri became an Order Member and was ordained as a Ganko-sha with the name Amita Vimalashri;
Massimo D'Alessandro became a Postulant;
Simon Williams became a Postulant;
Madrakara Albiges became an Aspirant;
Tony Danford became an Aspirant;
Dawn Hart became an Aspirant;
Zee-Zee Heine became an Aspirant;
Madrakara Albiges took the Five Precepts;
Zee-Zee Heine took the Ten Precepts;
Annetta de Quaasteniet was admitted as a member of the Amida-shu;
Bruce Coleman took the Five Refuges;
Brandon Haywood took the Five Refuges;
Dean Haywood took the Five Refuges;
Richard Ollier took the Five Refuges.
On the following day, the 10th December 2009, in a ceremony at the Buddhist House presided over by Sujatin, the good person and new Postulant Simon Williams was admitted as a member of the Amida-shu.
Namo Amida Bu
We will be in Narborough, at the Bodhi Retreat. During this time Rachel Abel will be ordained as a Buddhist priest in the Amida Order - a Ganko-sha. Please keep her in your thoughts, particularly on December 9th between 7:30 and 9 am.
Amida Newcastle meetings resume on the evening of January 5th 2010.
Meditation For Relaxation resumes at Newcastle University on January 5th 2010
Meditation For Relaxation resumes at Northumbria University on January 13th 2010 (note new time), as does Lunch and Buddhism
Posted on November 29, 2009 at 03:05 PM in B10 Amida Newcastle at Amida Sanctuary, B11 Meditation, B12 Buddhism, C10 Buddhism at Newcastle University, C11 Buddhism at Northumbria University, D10 Meditation For Relaxation, F10 Dates For Your Diary, H13 Amida Order, J10 Ceremony | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Dharmavidya writes, of a decision we made during the Amida Ordained Conclave:
The term gansha (shortened version of Ganko-sha) means 'person of the vow'. "Gan" means a vow or prayer
or deep aspiration as in the key phrase from Tan Butsu Ge "Gan ga sa
butsu" = "my prayer [is that I] become buddha". "Sha" means person. So
the term gansha has a double meaning. On the one side it means a person
who lives in the light of Amida's vow - and the vows of all buddhas of
all times. On the other side it means someone who longs to become
buddha for the sake of all sentient beings. When we operate from an
other-power perspective we know that we do not have the power ourselves
to make ourselves into buddhas, but we know that if we long for it the
buddhas who do have such power will hear and shed their light upon us.
Thus through our prayer or longing, our lives will become instruments
of liberation for many beings even though to ourselves the process will
remain mysterious. Buddhism has always placed great store upon a
person's gan. According to the gan, so the future. It matters what we
dedicate ourselves to, however good at fulfilling that dedication we
may be because this is what will work upon the karmic stream.
We have decided that within the Amida Order we shall use the term gansha to refer particularly to those who have taken the 156 precepts - a group that have heretofore been referred to as "chaplains". This has become overly confusing since "chaplain" is also, and primarily, a functional term. We have therefore had the situation where there were chaplains who did not do much chaplaincy and some people doing chaplaincy who were not chaplains. It was clear, therefore, that a shift of terminology was called for. For the time being this development is still experimental, but if it sticks we will later propose that it be incorporated into Provisions which is the constitutional document for Amida-shu.
Rev Dr Dharmavidya David Brazier, the head of the Amida Order
will be making a rare visit to Newcastle during May. On one of the evenings Dharmavidya will be giving a talk titled "Living in the Light of Unconditional Love" and, on the other, Prasada will be giving a presentation on her newly published book "Guilt: An Exploration"*.
Update - the venue with be the Chaplaincy at Northumbria University:
1st floor of the Wynne-Jones Centre no 17 on the Campus map
Further details to follow. These talks will be open to the public. Please keep these evenings free. Do contact me if you can help with publicity.
Amida-shu is a Buddhist sangha practising socially engaged Amida Pureland Buddhism. At its core is the Amida Order.
Origin: The Amida Order came into being in the summer of 1998 when three people took bodhisattva vows with Dharmavidya. Initially the intention was not so much to create a new sangha as to allow those who wished to do so to affirm their commitment to full time Buddhist training in a socially engaged context. Over the intervening years the sangha has developed and the Order has clarified its orientation and structure and given birth to Amida-shu.
Features: The position now, therefore, is that a
religious order exists at the core of Amida-shu and this order has a
number of distinctive features.
• The order embodies complete equality between men and women
• There are alternative ordination tracks as well as lay membership permitting different lifestyles
• Options exist for celibate, married, and non-celbate persons
• The Order is politically aware and socially engaged
• It develops individuals and teams
• It is deeply respectful of its Asian origins, yet as a new foundation has organisational flexibility
• It has its own code of precepts for ordained members
The Order consists of members of Amida-shu who have (a) become ordained, or (b) perform important functions, roles, or responsibilities for or within Amida-shu, or have done so in the past. Entry is by invitation. New members are people who are aligned to the Amida-shu vision and whose life accords with basic Buddhist ethics, though it is not a requirement that lay members formally take particular precepts.
Trees have been planted at Amida France by the Amida Amitaryas, in memory of Amida Newcastle sangha member, Andy Whyte, who died on January 3rd, 2007
The Amitaryas dug and planted two apple, a pear, a plum, two figs and a kiwi in Andy's name this weekend at Amida France
Previously fruit trees have been planted in his name at Tithandizane in Zambia, and we have bought a Japanese bell, which we use in ceremonies at Amida Newcastle ::link
Rev Sujatin was a guest, as a member of the Chaplaincy team at Northumbria University, at the Congregation at which John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. As Buddhist Chaplain at Newcastle University, she was a member of the academic procession at two Congregations last week, at one of which Rachel Abel, Amida-shu member, received her degree. This was the first time that Buddhist robes have been worn in the academic procession at the University.
Welcome to our Amida Courses Newsletter. This spring has been a busy and creative time at The Buddhist House, with a lot of fun and enthusiasm being expressed in various Amida ventures. This newsletter is just intended to give you a flavour of what is on offer. More detail of most things listed can be found on our web sites at www.amidatrust.com and www.buddhistpsychology.info or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org/9 PSYCHOTHERAPY COURSESOur course callendar for 2008/9 is now on the web at http://www.buddhistpsychology
.info/calendar%2004to05.htm If you wish to apply for any of our courses, please do send your applications in good time as it takes a while to arrange references. The is still time to join the programme at the next course block in May/June, though we would only advise joining at this particular course if you have some prior experience. Contact us if you have questions about this.
Susthama and a couple of members from The Buddhist House will go to France in mid-May (2008) to open it up for the summer season. The retreat centre has been closed for the winter period and so there will be alot of work initially; getting the place aired out and clean, digging the garden to get the beds ready for planting, clearing paths for outdoor walking meditation and also to make a way to the meditation hut ready for anybody interested in doing a solitary retreat in the woods.::link
It's a great time of year to be in France. If you're in need of space, fresh air, and a retreat atmosphere then do come along.
During the three week period of the July Retreat,::link
Dharmavidya & Prasada
will give lectures on
Pureland Buddhism and its Application in Society, Culture and the Arts
* 12 lectures over the three week period
There will also be
* periods of Pureland practice
* introductory seminars for the less experienced on the basics of the Pureland approach
* seminars and coaching for the more experienced related to Buddhist chaplaincy and ministry
As usual there will be plenty of opportunities for outdoor life, community living, discussion and sharing with stimulating company, and good vegetarian food, much of it from the centre's own garden.
::Pastoral Letter of 21 March 2008
The Pureland Way is a kind of open secret. It is open in the sense that anybody can easily get to know that Purelanders are those for whom their prime spiritual practice is saying the nembutsu. It is secret in the sense that few who have not immersed themselves in it realise what a transforming effect this practice has upon people’s lives.
Firstly, let us appreciate the extreme simplicity of this approach which operationalises everything that was taught by Shakyamuni and all the other Buddhas in the most direct way. Through the nembutsu we give up self, entrust ourselves to the Great Way, fulfil our karmic destiny, create a Pure Land for all, attain great happiness, and free ourselves from samsara for the benefit of all sentient beings. This is all through the power of nembutsu.
The nembutsu way is a generic spirituality. Actually it is for “Buddhists of all religions”. There is nothing sacred about the actual words of the nembutsu - in different countries it is said differently - but it becomes nembutsu by intent - the intent to reach out toward and to be open to what is sacred. The person who says nembutsu (the nembuts’sha), in effect, says, “I am a spiritual person and I am embraced by the spirit everywhere.”
To be spiritual is to relate to the spirit. Different people conceive spirit differently due to differences of human capacity. The nembutsu means “I am an ordinary person calling out to that which is most good, true and exquisite.” These two interpretations of the nembutsu are just different facets of the same jewel for the spiritual person is the person who recognises his or her ordinariness and the spirit that is everywhere is that which is most sublime.