B3 Dharmavidya

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

Amida in Scotland: Next meeting
Tuesday 17 January
- see below
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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.

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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


Newsletter: Bodhi Day Greetings

Amida Sangha in Scotland

Bodhi Day Greetings

December
2015

Amida Pureland Buddhism

BODHI DAY GREETINGS - 8TH DECEMBER
 

During December many spiritual communities hold their Celebrations of Light. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are shortening and, as our ancient ancestors have done for thousands of years, we all long for the return of light. For Pureland Buddhists, Amida is the Buddha of Infinite Light and, however gloomy and dark it may seem, Amida's Light is always shining. It's good to join in person or in spirit with our fellows as we bring this to mind.

Bodhi Day, which marks the Enlightenment of the Buddha, is celebrated on December 8th each year. It is traditional to hold a retreat at this time. Always the most important event in the Amida calendar, the Bodhi Retreat has grown in significance as the Amida-shu and the Amida Order have developed. Ceremonies and retreat are being held in Amida centres around the globe, including Amida Mandala in Malvern and Amida NE in County Durham.
~ Sujatin

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Dharmavidya's opening Dharma talk of the Amida Mandala Bodhi retreat

Satyavani writes from Amida Mandala in Malvern:

"Jnanamati arranged for Dharmavidya's opening Dharma talk to be recorded - with a few insights that hit me between the eyes.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRw4O4-OBvY

We also had two periods of practice, including some lovely Tai Shih Chi chanting. There are 14 of us present for the whole week from Belgium, Spain, Holland, the US & around the UK, and we'll have several day visitors this week, culminating in a busy Saturday with 12 hours chanting  - which will be live-streamed here:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbJm9gPEAkf8P6y8cFDzAzQ/live

- and hopefully lots of visitors."

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Dharmavidya: The Amidist Nembutsu - is it different?

QUESTION: What is specific to the Amidist approach to the nembutsu that might distinguish it from the approach of other similar schools?

SHORT ANSWER: Nothing

LONG ANSWER: Nembutsu is refuge. Taking refuge is the core mystical act that defines Buddhism. It is the only practice that all Buddhist schools have in common. To take refuge in one Buddha is to take refuge in all Buddhas. However, different Buddhas show different facets of Buddha Nature. Amida shows primarily the facet of all acceptance. Therefore Amida Buddha is a favourite Buddha for ordinary people. Pureland Buddhism derives from the Buddha's teachings directed to ordinary folk. We understand Pureland, therefore, to be an original form of Buddhism deriving from the earliest times. We, therefore, take refuge in Amida Buddha and we commonly do so using the formula "Namo Amida Bu." We do not see this as essentially different from any other form of taking refuge such as may be practised in any school of Buddhism.

However, while there is no difference in essence, there are differences in style and focus. The emphasis, when one takes refuge in Amida, is upon acknowledgement that the being who seeks refuge needs to do so because of being a "foolish being of wayward passion", a vulnerable, limited, deluded, error-prone mortal. Here, therefore, there is a recognition that we each manifest greed, hate, pride, worry, sloth, and a wide variety of forms of self-centredness and that, although we might improve in some areas, the fundamental propensity to give rise to such characteristics is indelible and we are, therefore, incapable of achieving our own salvation by our own self-directed efforts. This recognition adds extra power and urgency to the urge to take refuge. Taking refuge comes to have the sense of turning to a salvific power that we ourselves lack.

In this act of taking refuge, therefore, there is a profound sense of letting go and of relief. We see the self-perfection project to lie in ruin, but we also feel a great gratitude for the presence and support of the Buddha who sees us in our actual state and loves us just so, even as we are. This is deeply moving. Our Amida form of nembutsu, therefore, is a devotional and emotional practice, something that touches the heart and that links together all those who are similarly moved. This linking generates a sense of community and fellowship. Amidist practice, therefore, is often more communal, singing together rather than sitting in isolated silence. There is a place for solitude and silent contemplation, but I am pointing out here a difference of emphasis in style. Reciting the nembutsu together we not only take refuge in the Buddha but find refuge in the sangha in a palpable sense too.

Fundamentally, therefore, nembutsu is refuge and refuge is Buddhism, and Amida Buddhism merely asserts this basic faith. In style our practice is less perfectionist, more devotional, more communal, and more emotional and it has its own distinctive ways of understanding core Buddhist teachings in accord with this orientation.

:: link

:: link


Newsletter: September 28, 2015

The Amida Sangha in Scotland

Newsletter 1
September
2015

Amida Pureland Buddhism
in Perth


Hello again, everyone

Stop Press: Dharmavidya David Brazier will be over from his hermitage in France and leading a retreat in Edinburgh over the weekend of
May 7/8, 2016.
Possible title: “WITH MIND OF TIGER & PACE OF OX”, incorporating teachings from Zen, Pureland and Buddhist Psychology. Confirmation and further details to follow. Pencil it in your diary!

And, in Perth -  a big thank you to everyone who filled in the questionnaire about what you'd like included in our meetings (and there's still time :: link)

The date of our next meeting will be

Tuesday October 6th, 2015

During the evening we will start reading Dharmavidya's influential book, "The Feeling Buddha'. (As with all his books, authored using his secular name, David Brazier). This is a particular favourite of mine - this was my own introduction to Dharmavidya. It was at a talk based on this book that I met him in Wigan in 1998. A talk that had a profound effect on me! So many people around the world have come the Amida Order's way via 'The Feeling Buddha'. The teachings in the book really ring a bell - they are so relevant to anyone's life.

:: link to paperback on Amazon

:: The Feeling Buddha on kindle


As usual, we will include sitting meditation, Pureland chanting, social time and refreshments.

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

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!  Let me know if you think you can come
:: email
But if you don't know in advance, it's fine to just turn up!

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

We now have a FaceBook page





Amida Buddhism: Faith and Practice

Threefold Faith, Threefold Mind, Threefold Path


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.


Threefold Mind
Sincerity, Depth and Longing


Commentary:
Faith is not something imposed from outside. It is something that wells up from within. It is triggered from outside. It is like a hidden treasure that somebody has sewn into our clothing without our knowledge. Perhaps one day somebody points out the lump in the hem of our garment and on closer examination we discover the diamond. The nature of this faith is a feeling of longing for the Pure Land, as if one had been exiled from his true home. Looking closely we discover that this longing is a fundamental part of our nature. it is our deepest place. Being sincerely in touch with this deep longing gives us courage and directs us to “go forth for the benefit of all sentient beings, in the service of gods and humans” to do all that we can to assist the Buddhas to make the Pure Land visible to all so that all are similarly awakened to their most fundamental drive until all are living in the service of all.


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
 

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A Date for your Diary

Bodhi Retreat 2015 
with Dharmavidya David Brazier,
Amida Mandala, Malvern
December 8 - 13, 2015

:: details here
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Friends of the Amida Order social network

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newsletter, which comes out, usually, every 1 to 3 months.
You'll find past newsletters :: here

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Dharmavidya

ABOUT OUR TEACHER

David Brazier, whose Buddhist name ‘Dharmavidya’ means “clear perception of what is fundamental”, is a travelling Buddhist teacher, authority on Buddhist psychology, President of the Instituto Terapia Zen Internacional, Head of the Order of Amida Buddha, Spiritual Guide of the Eleusis Centre, Patron of the Tathagata Trust, scholar, doctor of philosophy (PhD), Buddhist priest, author of eight previous books, psychotherapist, social worker, creator of the other-centred approach and Zen Therapy, international traveller, inspirational lecturer and philanthropist. Dharmavidya

 

 

He was fortunate to encounter leading Buddhist teachers at the beginning of his adult life and their teachings spoke to his condition. He travels widely and has been the creator of aid, education and social work projects in Europe, India and elsewhere and of training programmes in Buddhist psychology, Zen Therapy and Buddhist ministry. His books include works on psychotherapy and on Buddhism and commentary on the relationship between spirituality, art, myth and culture. He has three adult children, five grandchildren, likes gardening, walking and photography and lives in Eleusis, France.

Dharmavidya has a blog here

You can follow him on Twitter

and Facebook