A2 Amida Scotland newsletter

Newsletter 28 - our meeting on 3 October 2017

Inviting you to join us in Perth on
Tuesday 3 October
from 7 - 9pm


Come along and join us for an informal evening in the shrine room of our Home Temple. This is an opportunity for you to get to know us, to learn some of our Pureland chants and to ask any questions - no matter how basic or complicated - about Buddhism, our practice and the Amida Shu.  

Bring along materials for drawing, painting, knitting, sewing, weaving, music making, writing and join us for an evening of practice, chat and creativity. There'll be mandala colouring sheets and art materials here for you to use, too.

All welcome, whether you have visited previously or not, are interested in Buddhism or just curious - no experience necessary.

This evening will offer a gentle and informal introduction to Amida Shu Pureland Buddhism and to what we and other Amida sanghas get up to.

:: we are here

Let me know if you are coming :: here

You'll be most welcome!

NAMO AMIDA BU

Sujatin

Acharya Sujatin Johnson, Minister with the Amida Order

:: link


Amida Scotland Newsletter 27

Revered Kaspalita, Acharya Sujatin and Ian Summers-Noble,
following Ian's admission into :: Amida Shu in August


The next meeting here in Perth
will be on
Tuesday September 5th
from 7 - 9pm


:: you'll find us here

The evening will include
:: Pureland Buddhist practice:
chanting and meditation, an Amida Service

All welcome
No Experience necessary
we'll explain everything that we'll be doing - so please come along!

NAMO AMIDA BU

Acharya Sujatin Johnson

Amida Scotland Newsletter 26

We will hold a special evening here in Perth on
Tuesday August 22nd
from 7 - 9pm


All welcome, whether you have visited previously or not

:: we are here

So what's special about this evening?
  1.  We're holding a ceremony during which a member of our sangha, Ian, is becoming a member of Amida Shu

What's Amida Shu? Look :: here to find out.

How does one join? :: information here

       2.  We are delighted to tell you that we will have special visitors for this auspicious event:
Reverend Kaspalita and Reverend Satyavani
from :: Amida Mandala  in the centre of Malvern, Worcestershire. The temple is owned by the Amida Trust and run by Reverend Kaspalita and Reverend Satyavani, on behalf of the :: Amida Order.

The evening will include :: Pureland Buddhist practice (no experience necessary) and will give an opportunity for you to ask Kaspa and Satya about what happens at Amida Mandala and about how they first encountered Pureland Buddhism.

So do come along!

NAMO AMIDA BU

Sujatin

:: link


Amida Scotland Newsletter 25: Guided 'Meditation For Relaxation' via Skype, August 1st

The next date for your diary -
this is an invitation for you
to join me for a guided
Meditation For Relaxation
session on Skype
on the evening of
Tuesday 1 August
 2017

Time: 7:30 - 9 pm
Venue: via Skype

As this is on-line, it's not just for folk in Scotland!
You can be anywhere, as long as you can connect to the internet and have Skype set up - see below.


During the evening I will lead you through a gentle guided meditation, which will include mindfulness of the breath and of the body, our kindest wishes for ourselves and for others. This will be an evening when you can chill out and replenish yourself, in the midst of your busy life.

In this way both we and all those with whom we come into contact will benefit.

This will be similar to the sessions that I ran for the staff and students at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, during the 11 years that I was Buddhist Chaplain to the Universities. 

I'm inviting you to join me via the medium of Skype. Once we have connected you can sit comfortably, close your eyes, relax and allow the stresses of the day to melt away. Many people have found the experience quite blissful.
(And, if you drop off to sleep, well, that's fine too! That's what your body most needs at the time.) 

Sujatin
NAMO AMIDA BU

*****

If you’d like to find out more or to let me know that you're joining the meeting, contact me by email here :: Sujatin.

In order to join in you’ll need to have Skype installed and a Skype account – you can download it easily from :: this link

Or instal a Skype app, if you have a smartphone.

Before the 1st August, search Skype for 'Sujatin Johnson' and send a request through. You’ll then need to add me as a contact and request to join the meeting by sending me a message via Skype chat.

NB: Shortly before 7.30pm on the day of the call you’ll see me calling you, which you should answer using the phone symbol, not the video one. You’ll then need to mute yourself, and only unmute yourself if you’re invited to speak individually at the beginning or end of the session – otherwise the sound becomes distorted. 

(Thanks to Satya and Kaspa for these clear and comprehensive directions!)

Note: 
All Welcome
No experience necessary.

 

:: View or share this newsletter here


Newsletter #24 Amida Pureland Buddhism In Scotland - for July 2017

The next date for your diary -
an Amida Shu Service on Skype
on the evening of
Tuesday 4 July
 2017

Time: 7:30 - 9 pm
Venue: via Skype

Using Skype, you can experience our Amida Shu practice from a distance.

The evening will include a chance to join in walking nembutsu (see below*), chanting, sitting meditation, recitation of the

:: Summary of Faith and Practice,
part of a Pureland Service and to hear a short Dharma talk.
Do you have a question you'd like me to answer? Send it to me :: here. It doesn't matter how basic! I'll either answer during the evening or later.

If you’d like to find out more or to let me know that you're joining the meeting, contact me by email :: Sujatin.

In order to join in you’ll need to have Skype installed and a Skype account – you can download it easily from :: this link

Or instal an app if you have a smartphone.

Before the 4th, search Skype for 'Sujatin Johnson' and send a request through. You’ll then need to add me as a contact and request to join the meeting by sending me a message via Skype chat.

NB: Shortly before 7.30pm on the day of the call you’ll see me calling you, which you should answer using the phone symbol, not the video one. You’ll then need to muteyourself, and only unmute yourself when you’re speaking individually (not when you are chanting along with me) – otherwise the sound starts to get a bit fuzzy. 

(Thanks to Satya and Kaspa for these clear and comprehensive directions!)

Note: 
All Welcome
No experience necessary.

*****
Find out more about Pureland Buddhism, Amida Buddha and the nembutsu in this :: brief introduction

*****
:: Here is our Service Book
*****





* On Verbal and Meditative Nembutsu


The primary practice of Pureland Buddhism is called nembutsu which literally means “mindfulness of Buddha”. Sometimes such mindfulness is interpreted as meaning “keeping in mind” and sometimes as “saying the Name of Buddha”.
 

In our :: Summary of Faith and Practice we say that our nembutsu is not done as a form of meditation. In our approach, rather, meditation is done as a form of nembutsu. When the selection of nembutsu as primary practice has been made, other forms of practice naturally become forms of nembutsu. Nembutsu thus becomes a form of “unremitting mindfulness” as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, not because one remains consciously attentive to nembutsu every wakeful hour but because it is so integrated into one that it has become second nature. This means that Amitabha is in our life whether we are thinking about him or not. This is what is called “anshin” – peaceful mind or settled faith. It is a state of complete assurance.

This is a state of “joy and ease” rather than one of intense effort. It colours all the sentiments of one’s life and, in particular, takes away the fear of death. By doing so it affects our emotional life in a variety of beneficial ways. We then naturally express what arises and such expression is practice. In this condition, practice is not a means of arriving at any particular state, it is a natural and easy expression of faith and gratitude already established. Whether that expression takes a verbal, kinetic or contemplative form makes no difference. There are a myriad ways to express devotion.
:: link

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha

NAMO AMIDA BU

:: link


Amida Pureland Buddhism In Scotland Newsletter 23

This is to remind you that we will hold an Amida Shu Pureland sangha meeting in Perth on the evening of Tuesday 30th May

Time and venue details are :: here
Are you hoping to come along?
Do let Sujatin know :: here

 
Find out more about Amida Pureland Buddhism here
 

Come and join us in our warm and welcoming
shrine room

All welcome - no experience necessary

 
 

Make a note of these dates.

A reminder - no meeting in June.

Our meeting in July will be on Tuesday 4th

In August we will not meet on Tuesday 1st but on Tuesday 22nd.
This will be a special meeting as Reverends Kaspa and Satya of Amida Mandala in Malvern will be visiting us. And there will be a ceremony - more about that later. Save the date!

 

We are happy to guide you in the right direction.

You'll find lots of information on the :: Amida Shu website

And on the :: Amida Scotland site

You can join conversations and read teachings on the
:: Amida Shu Virtual Temple site

And you can contact Acharya Sujatin :: here

:: link


Newsletter 22 Two meetings in May 2017

The next dates for your diary -
inviting you to Pureland Buddhist evenings in Perth
on
Tuesdays 2 and 30 May
 2017

The evening of 2 May will include a gentle guided
Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation for Relaxation.

 

Note: No meetings in June

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, and time to check in with each other. Our evenings may include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

While there's no cost for these meetings, we welcome donations for Amida Shu projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

This is :: our website 

*****





Amida Shu Pureland Buddhism:
Faith and World Peace 2

The Gate of Contrition

Contemplating the sun of wisdom we see dark clouds trailing across its pure drum-like disc.

Commentary:

A common form of Pure Land meditation is to visualise the white disc of the setting sun. As we do so we are aware of trailing clouds obscuring part of its radiance. These represent the obscurations in our own nature (kleshas).

The main obstacle to our ability to bring peace to others is the lack of peace within ourselves. We would like to bring peace to all sentient beings, but often enough, we cannot even bring peace to our own family or even to ourselves. Some other schools of Buddhism, therefore, assert that one must become enlightened before one can be any use to others. This, however, is a doctrine of despair. The Amida Buddhist is well aware of his or her own imperfect nature and sees no immediate likelihood of entering into supreme enlightenment by his or her own efforts. 

Yet, in the meantime, all around, beings are “drowning in samsara’s ocean”. To put off compassionate action even for a moment cannot be in accord with the Buddha way. We have to accept, therefore, that we are going to work for world peace even before we have achieved peace within ourselves.

In order to do so, however, we must be acutely aware of the clouds across the sun: we must realise that our wisdom is far from perfect and even our best efforts are going to be flawed in many ways. To the best of our ability we will try to assist the work of the Buddhas as though we were bottom grade apprentices just beginning to learn the bodhisattva trade from the example and instructions of those who have gone before us on the path.

Shan Tao therefore advocated the supreme importance of contrition. Since we have been wandering in samsara we have accumulated untold karmic obstacles. We ourselves are part of the problem. Accepting the reality of the state we have been bequeathed by our past, we can voluntarily take responsibility for it, and yet, in accordance with the teaching of Shakyamuni, realise that “I am not that”.

The way to make an act of contrition is as follows:

All the harm committed by me

Is due to beginningless greed, hate and delusion,

The work of my body, speech and mind:

I now confess everything wholeheartedly

And resolve to begin anew.

The way to realise “I am not that” is to give up reliance upon self and resolve, instead, to live in faith.

Just as greed, hate and delusion flow through the world like the wind and the tide, so wisdom and compassion are also ever present like the sun and the moon. Just as our little nature is always at work in its hurt and meanness, so the vows of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are measureless, inexhaustible and reliable. We can turn to them even while knowing that we ourselves are still far from the state of purity.
 

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha

NAMO AMIDA BU


Amida Pureland Buddhism in Scotland Newsletter 21

Amida Pureland Buddhism
in Perth

Next Meeting: Tuesday 4 April 2017
 
We extend a warm invitation to you to join us for our next
Pureland Buddhist meeting in Perth 
Date: Tuesday 4 April 
Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace,
Barnhill, Perth, PH2 7AS
:: link for directions

This month we hope that the evening is especially
welcoming for beginners.
The meeting will include a mixture of some walking meditation, sitting meditation, chanting, a Dharma talk and time for any of your questions. 

We will give an explanation as to what we are about do before each section of the evening. There's no need to worry about whether you're getting it right or not - just follow what everyone else is doing. Perfection is never expected - to be realistic, perfection is never possible! What we hope is that you feel comfortable and welcomed, soak up some of the atmosphere, gain some understanding and get a taste of what we do here. 

Here's a :: link to some facts about Amida Shu (the Amida Pureland Buddhist School).

Also, here are a few short posts by Reverends Kaspalita and Satyavani, of the Amida Mandala temple in Malvern - the main Amida Shu temple in the UK:

:: How does Buddhism help?

:: What is Amida Shu Buddhism?

:: A further explanation about Amida Shu Buddhism 

:: The Essence of Pureland Buddhism


If you have any more questions before you come along, you can get in touch with Reverend Sujatin :: by email

We'll also discuss simple practices you can do at home.

Do invite any friends who you think might be interested or who might appreciate developing some peace in their lives.

All are welcome - those of other faiths, seekers, Buddhists with other traditions or anyone who is curious. You are welcome to come along to every meeting, every once in a while or just the once to see what we are up to here in our 'Home Temple' in Perth.

During the evening there will be time for tea together and you can ask any questions you have.

There is no cost for the evening - however, we suggest a donation of £5 or whatever you can afford, whether more or less - we want everyone to be able to attend regardless of their financial circumstances. Donations support the work of Amida Shu in the UK and Delhi.

:: link


Newsletter 20: Meeting on 7 March 2017 plus Setting up a Home Group

The next date for your diary -
inviting you to a sangha meeting in Perth
on the evening of
Tuesday 7 March
 2017

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends! 
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. We'll plan meetings in the future to include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

There's no cost for these meetings - we welcome donations for Amida Shu projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

This is :: our website 

*****

If you can't get to our meetings in Perth or would like to set up additional meetings at other times of the month, and you would like advice, mentoring and resources in order to do so:

Introducing Amida Shu Home Groups

We have a new offering for people who would like to practice and study Amida Shu Buddhism in their local area - Amida Shu Home Groups. 

These are local groups which can be run by anyone who is interested in our form of Buddhism. Group leaders will be offered ongoing support from an Amida Shu mentor and a pack of resources, including a suggested script to make setting a group up nice and easy. 

If you are interested in starting one of these groups you can have a look at the resources here. ***** 





Amida Shu Pureland Buddhism:
Faith and World Peace 1

That realm cannot be attained while living an easy and indifferent life - Ippen

River of Fire, River of Water

Between the river of fire and the river of water a narrow path leads to the West

Commentary:

This image derives from Shan Tao (613 - 681), one of the great teachers of Pure Land Buddhism. The river of fire represents hatred and the river of water greed. The West, for a Chinese Buddhist, represented the source of Buddhism (India) and, through the teachings of the Pure Land Sutras, the Pure Land created by Amida Buddha. For our purpose here the Pure Land may represent world peace. We can envisage ourselves as on a journey toward it. Behind us is Shakyamuni Buddha whose voice urges us onward. Ahead we see the Light of Amida in the distance. We are travelling toward that Light. Even though the two rivers sometimes come perilously close or even wash over the path, wetting or burning us, we still must go onward toward that Light. 

This image gives a fine picture of the spiritual path. It is not so much that we proceed in the knowledge that “We shall overcome some day” as that even if we are doomed to failure there would be no other course open to us. Even if world peace were impossible, we would still have to conceive it and nourish it and work toward it. World peace is, therefore, an object of faith and a fitting description of the goal of the Dharma.

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha

NAMO AMIDA BU


Newsletter 19: 31 January 2017

Note the change of date
-
Our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
Wednesday 8 February
 2017

'Finding Light in Times of Darkness'


Come and join us in our Pureland practice, enjoy the company of other Buddhists, ask questions, share the warmth and welcome.

Time:
 7 - 9 pm

Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here
We're near the bottom right of :: this map

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.
*****

Here is the latest 'Whispers from the Bamboo Grove - Amida Newsletter',
with news of a retreat in Worcestershire with Amida priests, Reverends Kaspalita, Jnanamati and Satyavani

*****

You can find out more about

Amida Scotland on our website  ::here
The Amida-shu (School) of Pureland Buddhism by visiting this :: website
The on-line Amida community around the world :: here
Dharmavidya's hermitage in France :: here
and his  news updates :: here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page


Newsletter 18: 28 December 2016 ~ A message at the turning of the year

Amida in Scotland: Next meeting
Tuesday 17 January
- see below
*****
Seasonal Message from Dharmavidya, the Head of the Amida Order

The years 2016 and 2017 may well be seen from the future as a turning point in world politics. There is certainly a sense that the current order is fragmenting in Europe and North America, and that the balance of power in the Far East is shifting. In the Middle East there is still no sight of the end of war, but we can pray that some new arrangement can be found that will bring the killing to an end and start what will be a long process of reconciliation. We can sense what may be passing, but it is not yet clear what is emerging.

How does all this bear upon our faith and practice as Amidists? Buddhism arose at a time when the world was changing. New political powers were rising and society was becoming more money oriented. Into this context Buddha brought the Dharma that gave people a higher vantage point, a perspective that was not dominated by personal needs nor by the quest for power and status. In an increasingly materialistic world he taught sharing, generosity, co-operation and minimalism. Our need for this message has not lessened. The tendencies that he led us away from have grown stronger in the time since he walked the earth and our need of faith in a simpler, purer way of life remains just as important.

The challenge for us is how to put this vision into effect. One might think that the way forward is always by actualising some ideal - an ideal way of life, an ideal society, ideal families. However, as Pureland Buddhists we recognise the difficulty and self-deception that can lie in that direction. We realise that this samsaric world is populated with ordinary human beings and that the effort to coerce or pressurise them into going against their nature in the pursuit of a utopian dream tends to make matters worse rather than better.

Rather it is by tolerance and friendship, acceptance and hospitality, accepting diversity, that a truly compassionate atmosphere is created and a space opened where people can let down some of their barriers and abandon antagonisms. There are many different kinds of people in this world and there is room for all. Working modestly and patiently we can demonstrate an alternative without needing a blueprint or a fixed goal. All shall evolve as it should. By having faith in the intention of the Buddhas we can trust that our actions play their part in a greater design. We depend upon the Dharma and the Dharma depends upon us. To live the Dharma life, proceeding in faith not knowing the end thus requires courage

At the same time it is important to celebrate the good things, both locally and personally as well as collectively and internationally. There are problems in Europe, but we should not forget that there has been peace here for a longer period now than ever before in history. Let us pray that it continue. The ecological threat becomes daily more pressing, but awareness of it is rising where previously there was complete blindness. Our sangha is not numerous, but its quality is very special and much to be grateful for. What can be better than to have such companions?

As we celebrate the festive season and usher in a new year we become aware of the inexorable flow of time and of the greater time envisaged in the Dharma. May this help to awaken us. The Dharma puts everything into a saner perspective. 

My prayers are that each member of the sangha may flourish, each in her or his proper manner so that the light of Amida be reflected as if from a jewel with many facets.

Namo Amida Bu

Dharmavidya


Our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
Tuesday 17 January
 2017

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais', 19 Fairmount Terrace, Barnhill, Perth PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here
We're near the bottom right of :: this map
The shrineroom is on the ground floor, overlooking the terraced garden at the back of the house.

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. We'll plan meetings in the future to include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

There's no cost for these meetings - we welcome donations for Amida projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

*****
More to explore:

* The Amida Scotland website  ::here
* Our Amida Virtual Temple, with members around the world :: here
(Find out more about the site :: here)
Dharmavidya's hermitage in France :: here
and his news updates :: here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page

:: link


Amida in Scotland Newsletter 17: December and beyond

Some dates for your diary:
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
6 December 2016,

which will be our Bodhi Celebration

(
Note: Meetings in early 2017 will be on
17 January, 7 February, 7 March)


Around the globe Amida sanghas will be gathering in early December to celebrate Bodhi Day (8 December). :: Here's the event at Amida Mandala in Malvern.

Join us in Perth on 6th! 

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Will you be able to come along? Do, please, :: let me know
And, if you can't, then join us in spirit, chant the nembutsu and feel connected to all around the world as we celebrate Light at this dark time of the year
*****

The Land of Love and Bliss

Dharmavidya has written :: this commentary, as part of his teachings on The Summary of Faith and Practice, which we chant during each of our sangha meetings. There's a link to the whole series below.

TEXT: without which we would already perceive the land of love and bliss

Perception of the land is a foundational religious experience. Religious form is substantially grounded in it and much of it can be considered to be a kind of theatrical re-enactment of it as I will now try to explain.

Here, the land of love and bliss is the Pure Land, Sukhavati, of Amitabha. However, in Buddhism all Buddhas have their pure lands, so we can speak of the pure land of Akshobya or the pure lands of the innumerable Buddhas referred to in the Smaller Pure Land Sutra who occupy the ten directions and whose eloquence declares the truth of the teaching of Shakyamuni. However, such vision is found in all the great religions in one form or another.

To actually be in the Pure Land means to be in the presence of the Buddha, in this case of Amitabha Buddha, which is as much as to say of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit enters one’s life one is transformed, motivated, electrified. One then has sacred energy, one is inspired, one can endure, one’s life is meaningful. This is all through the power of presence.

As Pure Land Buddhists we pray to be reborn in such a pure land in a future life so that we can be in the presence all the time. However, who among us can or could really stand being in such presence all the time? We are creatures of karma. Karmic obstacle bars our way. Here in this life, generally speaking, the best we can hope for are glimpses and these are rare because they depend upon a release from our own karmic stream, from our own being, from our deadness. A tiny drop of eternal life, like phosphorus dropped on metal can cut us to the quick.

So, on the one hand, we are exiles, roaming far from our true pure land home, like the prodigal son in the Lotus Sutra, and the Buddha is like the father who, by a variety of skilful means tries to lure us back. We are exiles and refugees. We live with some distant memory or intuition of home, a longing toward it, an impulse to recreate some replica of it or memento. Hence yugen - the experience of bitter-sweetness that is the essential tone or flavour of the spiritual life. Karmic obstacle is a kind of shipwreck. We are like Robinson Crusoe on his island. We try to make something of it, but far from home.

On the other hand, it is our own nature that keeps us so far away. It is avidya - our unconscious wilful blindness, our attachment to greed, hate and delusion that we persist so strongly in not wanting even to see. We thus build false identities based upon some ego ideal or other, casting much of our nature into darkness in the interests of making ourselves shine is a certain light or our own contrivance. Much of this is motivated by fear - fear of ourselves and fear of others.

So perception of the Pure Land only occurs when there is a stop, an epoche, a brief setting aside of our own karmic continuum. Then we perceive the land of love and bliss. This is transfiguration. It is just as the description in Matthew’s gospel 17: 1-9: “and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light”.

In the scriptures, such visions come to Ananda in some renderings of the Larger Pure Land Sutra and, in the Contemplation Sutra, to Queen Vaidehi who sees the pure lands of many Buddhas and chooses that of Amitabha. However, it is clear that one cannot effect such an epoche by one’s own effort, will or desire since one’s own effort is itself karmic. Karma cannot set aside karma. Ananda and Vaidehi were brought to such a stop by their encounter with Shakyamuni, Peter, James and John by the intervention of Jesus.

This transfiguration is satori, kensho, shinjin, ‘the falling away of body and mind’. It is ’stream entry’. It is something that cannot be contrived but cannot be forgotten. This non-forgetting is the true meaning of mindfulness. The mind is thereafter full of it. This does not, however, mean that one has the vision continuously. It fades. What one is mind-full of is the recollection. Sati/smriti means recollection.

We can understand, therefore, that the transfiguration occurs when a person is stopped in their tracks and has perforce to look and see. These two aspects - stopping and looking - are samatha and vipassana, or nei quan and chih quan. When we perform the ritual of ‘meditation’ we are reenacting the transfiguration, the mystery, the foundational experience.

Of course, in practice, the majority of people performing such rituals have not had the foundational experience themselves. They may be inspired by having met somebody who has done or by somebody who met somebody who met somebody… and number of removes, and that meeting was sufficient to inspire faith. We have faith when we believe in a possibility, but we believe in it because of the evidence derived from some encounter.

Nowadays many people perform such rituals considering them to be a kind of ‘self-development’ or a kind of mental fitness programme. This is not wicked, but it misses the mystery and is wholly enmeshed in karma.

It is, therefore, immensely valuable to become aware of the presence of karmic obstacles even when, in a sense, we can do little about them directly. It is evn more valuable to be aware of the sun or moon behind the clouds, whether one has glimpsed them oneself or only heard of them at whatever remove. These things bring the Holy Spirit into one’s life and make one’s exile meaningful. Then one is able to truly take refuge.

~ Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Amida Order

:: link to the series of teachings
*****
Note: Meetings in early 2017 will be on
17 January, 7 February, 7 March


Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.


Directions: From the Queens Bridge, travel south along the A85 Dundee Road, in the Dundee direction. Turn up Fairmount Road beside the Sunbank House Hotel. Continue to the right along Fairmount Terrace, going beyond the small crossroads beside Balnagraig School. Shortly after this you will come to a small cul-de-sac on the left hand side, where you will find Number 19 at the top of the cul-de-sac.
Here's a photo of the house so you'll recognise it!

We're near the bottom right of :: this map


The shrineroom is on the ground floor, overlooking the terraced garden at the back of the house.

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. We'll plan meetings in the future to include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

There's no cost for these meetings - we welcome donations for Amida projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.
 

 

:: Amida in Scotland Newsletter 17: December and beyond


Amida In Scotland Newsletter 16: November 2016

A date for your diary -
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
1 November
 2016

No matter whether you are a saint, were a ghoul or a ghost, or are a regular human being, you are all welcome to come along - there won't be any tricks but we can promise you some treats! 

Time:
 7 - 9 pm

Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: No experience necessary - come along and find out what we do.


Amida in Scotland Newsletter 15: Our October Meeting plus an Invitation

A date for your diary -
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
Tuesday 4 October
 2016

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.
Find out more about
Amida Scotland on our website  ::here

The Amida Scotland FaceBook page
*****
 You may have received this news already, in which case, apologies for duplication:

An exciting new development - and an invitation.
Come and join us!

The Amida community site on ning is going to disappear in a couple of months.
In its place we have a new network
 

Not all of you live near an Amida temple or centre. And so Kaspa and Satya have been very busy on your behalf, building :: a brand new virtual temple to help you feel connected to the teachings, the practice and to each other. We already have 51 members.
It's an easy site to negotiate around - it  has various 'rooms', such as 

The Entrance Hall, where you can introduce yourself

*A Shrine Room, full of Dharmavidya's teachings and teachings by other members of the Amida Order. This is a place where you can ask questions about Buddhism.
 
A Living Room where you can write your journal, chat with like-minded folk, reflect upon your life and blessings in Monday Nembutsu - on Mondays or any day of the week!

* A Kitchen where you can find vegan recipes and more.

 
* There are also a Library, an Art Room and a Therapy Room. And there's News from other places, including Amida Scotland


So, I am delighted to invite you to sign up to enter the temple by registering here.

When you've done that you can start to explore by clicking on 'virtual rooms' on the top bar. This is where you'll find all the discussions, teachings and places where you can talk to each other. 

Don't be shy - do introduce yourself, find out about some of the other temple-mates - our on-line sangha. Explore, make yourself at home, ask questions, join in conversations or start your own.  

Looking forward to seeing you there!




NAMO AMIDA BU

:: link to newsletter


Newsletter 14: September 2016

Amida Sangha in Scotland

Newsletter 15

Our next meeting will be on

6 September 2016

A date for your diary -
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
Tuesday 6 September
 2016

As most of you are away on holiday or otherwise unavailable,
there's no meeting in August

Time:
 7 - 9 pm

Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends! 
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. We'll plan meetings in the future to include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

There's no cost for these meetings - we welcome donations for Amida projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

Directions: From the Queens Bridge, travel south along the A85 Dundee Road, in the Dundee direction. Turn up Fairmount Road beside the Sunbank House Hotel. Continue to the right along Fairmount Terrace, going beyond the small crossroads beside Balnagraig School. Shortly after this you will come to a small cul-de-sac on the left hand side, where you will find Number 19 at the top of the cul-de-sac.
Here's a photo of the house so you'll recognise it!

We're near the bottom right of :: this map


The shrineroom is on the ground floor, overlooking the terraced garden at the back of the house.





Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice 5

 

Threefold Path

Sila, Samadhi and Prajna

Commentary:

In Amidist Buddhism we do not see ethics, mind cultivation and wisdom as the path leading to enlightenment so much as the path leading from the awakening of faith. If one has faith in the Pure Land then one naturally wants to serve all beings and so one’s behaviour is likely to be kind, compassionate, wise and friendly. Similarly, if one has faith, then one is not troubled by setbacks or confused personal agendas so the mind becomes clear and bright. Amidist Buddhism does not present spiritual perfection as an emotionless or mindless condition. It is a condition in which the feelings of gratitude, awe, longing and reverence become powerful motivators giving a person energy, patience, single mindedness and clarity of purpose.

 

Threefold Practice

Keeping the Pure Land in mind

Engaging fully with the world of bliss and affliction

Renunciation

Commentary:

Keeping the Pure Land in mind means always to be guided by faith. This may be expressed in many different ways. Many practitioners like to recite the names of the Buddha and especially the name Amida, perhaps in the form Namo Amida Bu. Or to visualise the Pure Land in the form described in the scriptures or naturalistically. Some find their faith strengthened through contact with natural phenomena and others through listening to teachers or inspirational study. The most characteristic method in Amidist Buddhism is to call the name of Amida thereby expressing the depth of faith and longing in one’s heart.

Engaging fully with the world of bliss and affliction means that faith atrophies if it is not acted upon. If we have the vision of the Pure Land before us we can hardly help ourselves wanting to make it a reality in everything we do. Even though we may have very poor capacity and have much spiritual blindness, still, if we have faith, we have some light and if we act on whatever light we have, be it ever so small, more light will appear. If we can trust that the light really is Amida - measureless - then we can entrust ourselves to it. The words for bliss and affliction are sukha and dukkha. The Buddha said that his whole teaching was concerned with pointing out dukkha and the possibility of its transformation into sukha. We will soon realise that dukkha is really to be understood as whatever threatens our faith and sukha as whatever strengthens it. The Buddha told his followers to go forth into the world to help everybody in every way we can - to resist the conditions of ill, assist the afflicted and demonstrate an alternative.

Renunciation means that if we have faith we do not want to be encumbered with things and habits that get in the way of our living in accordance with that faith. This is where all the common practices of Buddhism come to be seen as valuable: simplifying one’s life, making offerings, bowing, contrition, rejoicing in others, reverence to teachers, spiritual ancestors and the objects of refuge, requesting teaching, generosity, hospitality, non-killing, non-stealing, avoiding sexual misconduct, non-use of intoxicants, right speech and so forth.
 

Transmission of the Dharma

Without our many generations of teachers we would never have awakened to the truth.

Without our awakening to the truth the future generations would be without help.

Commentary:

From Shakyamuni Buddha down through Ananda and more than eighty generations of teachers the faith in the Buddhist Pure Land has come down to us and nobody fully awakens this faith without help. The call from without awakens the call from within. Even though a person may be granted a vision of the Pure Land spontaneously, faith matures through the inspiration of living and ancestral teachers.

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha


*****
You can find out more about

Amida Scotland on our website  ::here
The Amida-shu (School) of Pureland Buddhism by visiting this :: website
The on-line Amida community around the world :: here
Dharmavidya's hermitage in France :: here
and his daily news updates :: here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page


Newsletter 12: July and August 2016

For your diary - please note
that there will not be a meeting
in July

Our August meeting will be announced
at a later date
 

*****

What is Pureland practice all about?

Reverend Kaspalita writes: It is simply about remembering that there are Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and a Pureland.

What are Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the Pureland?

When we went to see Jetunma Tenzin Palmo speak, she said that whenever you say anything about Nirvana you miss the mark. The Buddha spoke about what Nirvana wasn’t. It wasn’t materialism, he said, and it wasn’t idealism. Once the Buddha said Nirvana was like tasting a fruit: you can never really describe the taste of that fruit to someone who hasn’t tasted it.

Jetsuma answered a question about God, and said a similar thing: whenever you say anything at all about God, you miss the mark. But she also said that the words light, intelligence and love, came close to describing her sense of what we might call Other Power.

The Pureland sutras are full of magical descriptions of Amida’s Pure Land; Amida himself (or herself) is described in many different ways, each of them missing the mark.

Some descriptions get closer than others. Amida Buddha’s light is boundless and unimpeded, it is characterised by compassion (selfless love) and wisdom (seeing beneath the surface of things). It absolutely shines upon everything: upon us, and upon the whole universe. When we feel close to Amida, we feel close to the whole universe, sharing the Buddha’s great love.

As we receive that light, it moves us away from lust, and hate, and towards kindness and clear seeing. We are more able to be intimate with the whole world, and sometimes able to see the world the way the Buddha sees it – feeling a great love for all beings.

Sometimes Amida, or the Bodhisattvas, or the Pureland, appear in grand visions or dreams. Sometimes they sneak up on us, quietly loving us and softening our Ego.

Pureland practice is about entrusting ourselves to this great love, and trusting the gates that the Buddhas open for us.

Namo Amida Bu

Newsletter 10 ~ our sangha gathering on 7 June, 2016

A date for your diary -
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais', 19 Fairmount Terrace, Barnhill, Perth, PH2 7AS


We had planned to spend the evening with Jnanamati, one of the Amida Amitaryas. This may still be possible. However, as he is currently at Eleusis, in the centre of France, the proposed strike action, affecting transport, due to start this week, looks likely rule it out. If so, another time!

Update - yes, he should be with us!

Details ** of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to allNo experience necessary.
Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. We'll plan meetings in the future to include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.

There's no cost for these meetings - we welcome donations for Amida projects in Delhi and the UK. Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

*****
Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice 5

Threefold Path

Sila, Samadhi and Prajna

Commentary:

In Amidist Buddhism we do not see ethics, mind cultivation and wisdom as the path leading to enlightenment so much as the path leading from the awakening of faith.

If one has faith in the Pure Land then one naturally wants to serve all beings and so one’s behaviour is likely to be kind, compassionate, wise and friendly. Similarly, if one has faith, then one is not troubled by setbacks or confused personal agendas so the mind becomes clear and bright.

Amidist Buddhism does not present spiritual perfection as an emotionless or mindless condition. It is a condition in which the feelings of gratitude, awe, longing and reverence become powerful motivators giving a person energy, patience, single mindedness and clarity of purpose.

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha

If you would like to visit 
Eleusis, in France (Dharmavidya's rural hermitage) 
you will find a list of events here

Bookings for events at Eleusis (La Ville au Roi) are being handled by Jnanamati 

Stays are also possible at other times, joining in the life of the community - they will be very happy to see you.
(It's a wonderful place that I have visited many times over the last decade and a half)

. You can read the Information for Visitors here. Although this says to e-mail Dharmavidya, at this time it is better to e-mail Jnanamati.

*****

**Directions to Amida Scotland meetings in Perth: From the Queens Bridge, travel south along the A85 Dundee Road, in the Dundee direction. Turn up Fairmount Road beside the Sunbank House Hotel. Continue to the right along Fairmount Terrace, going beyond the small crossroads beside Balnagraig School. Shortly after this you will come to a small cul-de-sac on the left hand side, where you will find Number 19 at the top of the cul-de-sac.
Here's a photo of the house so you'll recognise it!

We're near the bottom right of :: this map


The shrineroom is on the ground floor, overlooking the terraced garden at the back of the house.
*****
You can find out more about

Amida Scotland on our website  ::here
The Amida-shu (School) of Pureland Buddhism by visiting this :: website
The on-line Amida community around the world :: here
Dharmavidya's hermitage, Eleusis, in France :: here
and his daily news updates :: here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page

*****



NAMO AMIDA BU

http://eepurl.com/b3C7Wb


Amida in Scotland Newsletter 8 ~ Sangha Gathering 5 April 2016

Our sangha gathering in
April 2016

A date for your diary -
our next sangha gathering in Perth
will be on the evening of
5 April
 2016

EASTER TIME ANCESTOR MEMORIAL CEREMONY

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha, has created a new ceremony to be performed on Easter Sundays in Memoriam of our important proximate spiritual ancestors (see below *). 

This ceremony has some sense of death and rebirth, since it falls at Easter and since it celebrates important founders of our spiritual enterprise.

As our next sangha gathering, following Easter, is on 5 April, we will perform this ceremony during that evening.

There will be a small ancestors' shrine in the centre of the room, in addition to our main shrine, and we will circumambulate around this during part of the ceremony.
In addition to our spiritual ancestors, I would like to invite you to remember your own family ancestors during the ceremony.  If there is anyone in particular you would like remembered, bring a photo of them or their name written on a piece of paper to place on the ancestors' shrine.

* Anniversaries of Gisho Saiko, Amrita Dhammika, and Gyomay Kubose
 
19th March is the anniversary of the death of Gisho Saiko who died age 79 in 2004. Gisho Saiko was a prominent Jodoshinshu priest and professor of psychology who endorsed Dharmavidya's work and imparted to him his wish that he bring the Pureland message to the West. :: link
 
26th March is the tenth anniversary of the death of Amrita Dhammika age 50. Amrita was a minister of the Amida Order who did invaluable work in Africa and died while on duty in Zambia. :: link
 
29th March is the anniversary of the death of Gyomay Kubose age 94 in Chicago. Rev Kubose was the first patron of Amida Trust and a great support in our early days. In his own right he was a leader of Japanese-Americans during the difficult period that they experienced, during and following the Second World War. He established the Jodoshinshu Temple of Chicago. :: link


Sangha Gathering on 5 April
Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace, Barnhill, Perth PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. 



You can find out more about
 Amida Scotland on our website  ::here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page

The Amida-shu newsletter
You'll find the latest here
 Whispers from the Bamboo Grove #37 
"Signs of Spring"

You can sign up here to receive these every 1 - 3 months


NAMO AMIDA BU

Amida Sangha in Scotland Newsletter 7

UPDATE - next meeting will be on March 8th, not 1st, due to illness!

Amida Pureland Buddhism

A date for your diary -
our next sangha meeting in Perth
will be on the evening of
8 March
 2016 (not 1 March as previously advertised)

Time: 7 - 9 pm
Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS

Details of where to find us are :: here

Note: Meetings are open to all.
No experience necessary.



During our last meeting, on February 2nd, Ian Summers-Noble took Refuge (thereby officially 'becoming a Buddhist') and took the 5 Precepts in the form of the 5 Prayers of Upasakas. This was a moving event - it's a great honour and delight to be able to hold a ceremony for someone, as they take this auspicious step.

The evening included Quan Yin practice (she is the Bodhisattva of Compassion), a prayer for the long life of Dharmavidya, written by Reverend Ananda, an Amida Minister who lives in Hawai'i, and dedication of merit to Dharmavidya, the head of the Amida Order, who has been ill in hospital in France for the last fortnight. 

Special thanks to Eva, who was my bell master during the ceremony. We had a tea and biscuits break and then concluded with Evening Service. 


You can find out more about

Amida Scotland on our website  ::here
The Amida-shu (School) of Pureland Buddhism by visiting this :: website
The on-line Amida community around the world :: here
Dharmavidya's hermitage in France :: here
and his daily news updates :: here

Amida Scotland has a :: FaceBook page





Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice 3
 

Threefold Faith

 

Shraddha, Prasada and Abhilasa

 

Commentary:

Shraddha means to have complete faith in the act of Refuge.
Prasada means to have clarity of mind.
Abhilasa means to have pure aspiration and willingness to undertake whatever action may be for the good of all.

Faith in all its forms is central to the Amidist approach. All forms of ethical behaviour spring from faith. If there is little faith then there is bound to be a selfish intention even if one’s actions are superficially respectable. Faith in Buddhism refers to the overcoming of self and the implementation of the doctrine of non-self.

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha
*****

Amida's Golden Chain

The following verse is taught to children in the Pureland tradition.

"I am a link in Amida Buddha's Golden Chain of Love
that stretches round the world.
Let me keep my link bright and strong.
Namo Amida Bu."

This verse teaches us that we do not practice just for ourselves. We are part of a chain of love. We trust that whatever good we do in life contributes to something bigger than ourselves. It stretches round the world. Each of us is part of the community of all sentient beings. What we do in life may help to cultivate love and peace and kindness, or it may stir up animosity and bitterness. When the winds of bitterness are blowing in the world, it takes faith to remain calm and not be corrupted.

*****
 

Amida Sangha in Scotland: Newsletter 6

Our next Sangha Meeting
will be on the evening of
2 February
 2016

Amida Pureland Buddhism

Our next meeting in Perth
will be on

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Our theme will be
Refuge and Beginning Anew
and will include a 'Taking Refuge' ceremony.
(See Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice - 2, below). 
Our evening will also include sitting meditation and Pureland chanting plus time to catch up with each other while we have tea.

Time: 7 - 9 pm

Venue: 'Taigh an t-Solais'
19 Fairmount Terrace
Barnhill
Perth
PH2 7AS


All welcome.
No experience necessary.

Come along and join us - and bring your friends!
All meetings include Pureland Buddhist practice, tea and biscuits, time to check in with each other. Sangha meetings in the future will include guided meditation, art and music. From time to time other members of the Amida Order will visit us.
Are you intending coming along?  :: email

Directions: From the Queens Bridge, travel south along the A85 Dundee Road, in the Dundee direction. Turn up Fairmount Road beside the Sunbank House Hotel. Continue to the right along Fairmount Terrace, going beyond the small crossroads beside Balnagraig School. Shortly after this you will come to a small cul-de-sac on the left hand side, where you will find Number 19 at the top of the cul-de-sac.
Here's a 
photo of the house so you'll recognise it!


We're near the bottom right of :: this map

The shrineroom is on the ground floor, overlooking the terraced garden at the back of the house.

There's no cost for these meetings - however we welcome donations for Amida projects in Delhi and the UK.
Suggested amount between £2 and £5.

You can find out more about Amida Pureland Buddhism by visiting our website

This is our FaceBook page


 


NAMO AMIDA BU







 

Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice - 2

Five Refuges

In Amida we take refuge
In the Buddha we take refuge
In the Dharma we take refuge
In the Sangha we take refuge
In the Pure Land we take refuge

Commentary:
All Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Amida Buddhists additionally take refuge in Amida Buddha and in the Pure Land.
The two additional refuges deepen our appreciation of the original three.

The Buddha - by the Buddha is meant the Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of the Buddhist tradition in this historical epoch, who was a human being who renounced and overcame greed, hate and delusion, thus entering enlightenment and discovering the Primal Vow by means of which he was able to live a life of service to all sentient beings.

The Dharma - Dharma means both the Buddhist teaching and reality. The Buddha pointed out reality: birth and death, bliss and affliction, paths of noble living and paths of corruption. He bade us take our life in hand and set it upon a noble path.

The Sangha - Sangha means the community of those, ordained and lay, who follow the path pointed out by the Buddha. To take refuge in sangha is to commit oneself to being part of the movement that the Buddha founded for the emancipation of this world from delusion.

Amida Buddha - Amida means measureless. The historical Buddha gave teachings about Amida Buddha to help us to see all existence in the aspect of what is immeasurable and ungraspable so that we might turn away from little lives and mean minds and be released into a greater vision.

The Pure Land - there are two paths in Buddhism: the Path of Sages and the Pure Land Path. Amida Buddhism is a Pure Land path, based on faith in the vision of the Pure Land rather than on achieving personal enlightenment by one’s own efforts.

Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Amida Order