There's a very full and varied programme throughout July, August and into September at our beautiful retreat centre in the middle of France:
Website: Amida France
July 4-8: Anjin Sesshin Retreat
July 11-15: Becoming More Alive through Words & Movement
July 18-22: Teachings: Mindfulness & Pureland Buddhism
July 25-29: Women Together/Familie Week (English/Dutch)
Aug 1-5: Arts & Family Week (English/Dutch/Francais)
Aug 8-12: Buddhist Psychology Summer School
Aug 22-26: Volunteer Week
Aug 29-Sept 2: Rivers & Forests: Walking retreat (English/Francais)
Sept 5-9: Women, Food & Bodies Week
Why not just stay for the whole summer :-)
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Namo Amida Bu
Video from the Bodhi retreat:
Next Live Event: - Morning Service and Amida Shu (Amida School) admissions
Thursday 4rd December 07.30 GMT :: watch here
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.
Q: What is Amida-shu
A: Socially engaged Pureland Buddhism, a generic, religious spirituality animated by the energy of Amida Buddha. Amida-shu has three basic teachings: the trikaya nature of Buddhas, the bombu nature of adherents and the nembutsu as principle practice. The core teachings of Amida-shu are found in the Larger Pureland Sutra. Amida-shu is an other power spirituality.
Q: What is other power?
A: Other power refers to the Buddha's teaching of 'dependent origination', according to which all things arise in dependence upon causes and conditions. This means both that the causes in our karmic history will always cause us to be bombu and also that there are other causes that can, nonetheless, empower our spiritual life. All of these - our own karmic history and our openness to the healing power of Buddhas - are outside of ('other' than) our present self. We are both victims and beneficiaries of other powers. When we take refuge in the healing power of a Buddha it is as though a seed were planted within us that will then grow by itself. We then become a tathagatagarbha, or 'buddha-womb' within which the seed of Buddha gradually matures. Calling upon Amida Buddha is thus like allowing oneself to be impregnated by the Buddha's healing power which will then grow of its own accord. Amida-shu thus relies upon a subliminal process of spiritual growth.
Q: What does the Larger Pureland Sutra say?
A: In brief, it is the story, told by Shakyamuni Buddha to his disciple Ananda, of a bodhisattva called Dharmakara who establishes a Pure Land and thereby becomes Amida Buddha. Included are Dharmakara's prayers that describe the nature of that land as a place where there are no hells or places of punishment, no discrimination or disadvantaging of particular social groups, no war or oppression, only opportunity for spiritual advanement and enjoyment. Dharmakara also promises that he will bring to his realm anybody who sincerely calls upon or takes refuge in him. The beings in Amida Buddha's Pure Land are all either shravakas or bodhisattvas. Thus the sutra specifies the calling of Amida's name as the means by which an affinity is created between oneself and the Buddha and also provides an archetypal example of how, in the case of Dharmakara bodhisattva, such a connection eventually ripened into the creation of a Pure Land and full Buddhahood.
::continue reading here
At The Buddhist House, 12 Coventry Road, Narborough, Leicestershire, LE19 2GR, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
Always the most important and exuberant event in the Amida annual calendar, the Bodhi Retreat has grown in significance as the Amida-shu and the Amida Order have developed. It is traditional to hold a retreat at this time of year in memory of the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha on 8th December. The retreat includes teachings, seminars, formal and informal gatherings, nembutsu practice, beautiful and affecting ceremonies, and opportunities for personal sharing and making friends. This is also the retreat at which ordinations, commitment ceremonies and renewals of refuge, membership and precepts take place. There will be school, order and ministry meetings. If you are a present or intending member of Amida-shu, do make every effort to attend. If you are contemplating an advance in your commitment, please arrange to discuss this ahead of the retreat with one of the teachers at The Buddhist House. The retreat commences with a session of “prayer unceasing” in the 24 hour nembutsu chanting 1-2 December. The actual chanting continues from noon to noon. Preliminary events and gatherings commence with brunch at 9.00am Monday. If you wish to immerse yourself in the Amida culture in a wonderful way, this is it.
This week I would like to say something about wonder. It is not an easy subject to write about since the whole nature of wonder seems to be that it takes one's breath away and with the breath go words also. The sense of awe is undoubtedly one foundation-stone of religion and one of the most precious gifts that I have received from my religious training is an appreciation of it and an enhanced capacity for it. That is certainly the gift (grace) that I would like to see bestowed on others. However, the repeated intrusion of awe into one's daily life is, of course, disconcerting. It disturbs 'business as usual'. I can, a bit artificially, distinguish two particular kinds of wonder that relate respectively to 'self' and alterity.
In regard to self, I am continually amazed at my own life and the life that we as a spiritual community have. As a close Dharma friend says to me, 'it is amazing that people are not queuing up for this life because it is so wonderful', yet, on the other hand, one is aware that it is not so surprising because one knows that the great majority of people are anchored to things that they feel unable to do without that prevent them from participating more than briefly in it. The Buddha says that the problem is desire and attachment, but we might put it slightly more forcefully if we say that the problem is addiction. Buddhism is the faith to give up addiction and that, unfortunately, is rare. To take refuge in Buddha means to centre one's life on something that is pure that frees one from being centred upon the impure things that people become addicted to. Wonder, therefore, is essentially an opposite of addictedness. I cannot claim to be entirely liberated from addictions, but I am deeply grateful for the extent to which I am so.
A short essay about the nature of Pureland Buddhism as an expression of taking refuge.
In Mahayana Buddhism, we vow to help all sentient being to attain complete awakening and, in order to do so, we vow to transform all our negative passions into love and compassion, to master all the Buddha's teachings and to fulfil every step of the Buddhist path. These bodhisttva vows stand like a kind of heroic gesture. No matter how many lifetimes it takes, I will overcome all the harm and suffering in the world and bring all beings to the land of bliss. When we look at the vows from the ordinary perspective they seem like a personal challenge. How shall I do it? Where must I begin? In our morning service we recite these vows. We re-enter the bodhisattva path each new day. Then immediately after doing so we recite the refuges which in our tradition begin with taking refuge in Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha is the highest Buddha, representative of all Buddhas, past, present and future, in this and all possible worlds. We take refuge in those Buddhas. This provides us with the means to fulfil the bodhisattva vow. By our own power alone we could not do it. We will not do it by our own determination alone. We can only do it by relying upon the Buddhas. When we entrust ourselves in this way, the task looks completely different. It is no longer oneself who is helping all beings and overcoming all passions - it is Amida Nyorai. We are carried along by Nyorai, guided and held. As we take refuge in Nyorai who represents all Buddhas, so we recognise the need to take refuge in Shakyamuni, the particular Buddha of the age that we happen to have been born into. As we take refuge in Shakyamuni we see the need to take refuge in his Dharma. If taking refuge in Dharma means anything it is that we enter into and take refuge in sangha. And if refuge in sangha means anything it becomes refuge in the vision of a Pure Land since this is the full realisation of sangha. Thus, in practical Buddhism, there is a constant going back and forth between self-power and other-power, but, in the end, it is other-power that sees us through. At the heart of all Buddhism is the act of refuge and the grace of Nyorai.
There are thus two basic approaches to Buddhism, commonly referred to as self-power and other-power, or, in Japanese, jiriki and tariki. When Shakyamuni Buddha died his disciples wanted to keep the Dharma alive in the world. Some felt that this meant following the example given by Shakyamuni while others emphasised expressing their love for him. The first group saw the Dharma as a matter of learning methods based on the way that Shakyamuni practised. By perfecting those methods they hoped to emulate the founder and become Buddhas themselves in due course. That approach is called self-power because it assumes that each person has the power within him or herself to become a Buddha and that that is what is required. Such an approach emphasises the “Buddha nature” of the individual. Other disciples took a different view. When they reflected upon the experience that they had had, they realised that the Buddha had come into their life unbidden. He came to them. The arrival of Shakyamuni in their village was not a product of long years of training or practice on their part. The Buddha came into their lives and they were changed, not by their effort, but by their encounter with him. The nature of Buddha was not conceived to be a property of the individual but as something beyond that come to us, as Tathagata (Tatha-agata = "that which IS and which has come for us"). The Buddha came o call them. He inspired them, won their affection, saw through their delusions, had sympathy for them, accepted them and cherished them. For this they felt enormous gratitude. Their hearts were touched. They felt that the Buddha had cared about them and had put them in touch with the deep meaning of life. This second type of attitude is called other-power because it is essentially a matter of gratitude for what has been freely given. As it has been passed down to us it has become the practice of mystical encounter with Nyorai, of calling and being called. This is a truly religious approach that can change people in the core of their being quite suddenly. The presence of the Buddha entering into one's heart produces a sudden and dramatic inner disarmament and a release of energy into an active life of service and dedication.
Here is a short description Dharmavidya (the head of our Order) has given of the function of spiritual exercises. I have added some comments or explanation in italics:
The core practice in Amida-shu (the Amida School) is nembutsu (- keeping the Buddha, specifically Amida Buddha, in mind). All other practices are ancilliary to nembutsu. Ancilliary practices may be of three kinds.
(1) other forms of nembutsu - thus bowing may be considered to be nembutsu with the body if it is intended as such.
(2) applications of nembutsu - thus our socially engaged activities are our way of trying to apply what we believe would be Nyorai's* intention for this world.
(3) practices that deepen our appreciation of what nembutsu means.
In this third category we have the spiritual exercises Nei Quan and Chih Quan. Nembutsu speaks of a relationship between the bombu (foolish* human being) and Nyorai. Nei Quan helps us to deepen our understanding of our bombu nature. Chih Quan helps us to feel the presence of Nyorai.
You will find the details here
Posted on June 02, 2008 at 10:08 AM 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, H15 Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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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.
The 5th Living Buddhism Conference
"Breaking the Mould: Buddhism Comes West & Gets Engaged"
Narborough, Leicestershire, UK in April - May 2008
• 26 - 27 April: Pre-Conference Gathering: Practice, Discussions, Gatherings
• 28 - 30 April: Pre-Conference Events: Monday Outing; Tuesday & Wednesday Mini-conferences "Buddhism & Arts", "Amida Around the World", "Buddhism in a Multi-Faith World", "Buddhist Education".
• 1 - 4 May: Conference Proper: Keynote Speakers, Plenary Sessions, Presentations, Workshops, Exhibitions, Bookshop, Entertainment.
• 5 May: Post Conference Meeting: "Buddhism in Organisation Development"
A message from Susthama:
With the Amida conference approaching fast we need your help to get the word out. If you would like to help, please circulate information on any networks you know, put notices on notice boards, and, above all, tell people. Word of mouth is what helps most. If you can distribute publicity material please do and if you need more, please let Mudita or me know.
“ I welcome being included in the growing family of Amida Trust, which, in my view, has successfuly begun to share the message of Pure Land Buddhism in a context not encumbered by traditional institutions, while not rejecting or criticizing them. I appreciate its openness to push the boundaries to ally with like-minded groups and to articulate the teachings in a more accessible manner for us ordinary beings of the 21st century.”Kenneth Tanaka is President of IASBS, the leading academic association for Pureland Buddhism, author of the book Ocean, and a good friend of Dharmavidya and also of Professor Bloom who is another much valued patron, supporter of Amida Trust, and mentor to Dharmavidya. We are delighted to have these leading authorities from Japan and the West on the Amida team. ::link
Qu: Can u tell me about creativity at The Buddhist House?
Dh: Well, TBH is a creation in itself. I don't mean the fabric of the building - tho that did involve a lot of repairing and painting and the usage of the rooms is a flexible ever changing evolution. I mean more the community itself.