It is always the case that in this samsaric world some things are getting better and some are getting worse. We pray that the sages will stay with us, turning the wheel of Dharma until samsara ceases. At this time the world is seeking for new ways to live in peace. Large scale associations of nations are forming with a view to avoiding old causes of war. This, however, brings with it the problems of organisation on a grand scale and the great swings of fortune and differences between individuals that can arise in such large structures. The incidence of poverty and unemployment that can follow from social reforms. Those that have may be tempted to exclude those that have not in order to preserve their advantage. Yet some concentration of power is inevitable to maintain such structures. The answers are not simple. Again, we have raised huge industry which benefits millions, yet now we are realising that this same abundant spending of energy is bringing vast and unpredictable changes to the biosphere. Where will it end? We are blessed and cursed to live in such a world. This is samsara. It is here that we can have faith, let love grow in our hearts, find the noble way and walk hand in hand. Each of us in our own stumbling way searches for solutions. One of the most obvious is to help one another.
On our recent retreat near Oxford I was deeply moved to see that there was indeed harmony in the community and we could then proceed. Our lives then become a vast ritual expressing all that is best in us. It was particularly touching to see the children present, to see individuals advancing in commitment, to witness a thousand small acts of kindness and co-operation, to see old friends returning and new ones appearing, to see them welcomed with open arms. It was a further delight to see it all recorded in such exquisite photography. This kindness transcends the ups and downs of past problems and is a great healing, not only for those present, but, through them, radiating out into the world. This is Buddha's lighthouse and we, circumambulating, are like the revolving light that both brings hope and helps travellers far away to avoid obstacles. It is through such harmony that the Buddhas demonstrate an alternative.
All times are one time. Gratitude, love and generosity have no season but are eternally valid. They are the spirit of nembutsu, of keeping the Buddha in mind. Rather than seeking our own ends, our path is to honour and delight in the grace that falls to us through the vows made by innumerable great beings, and especially Dharmakara who thereby became Amida Buddha. These great beings include the sages of all the religions, all those who have brought peace, wisdom and kindness into our midst. Thinking of them our hearts naturally soften, and thinking of our own limitations we give rise to fellow feeling to all our neighbours far and wide. These two forms of mindfulness, mindfulness of great beings who truly live the way and mindfulness of our own human condition, are like the pillars of a bridge. These pillars are only joined by some form of nembutsu. If we have this kind of understanding then all sincere religious expression becomes nembutsu and nembutsu working in our heart brings us close to the life beating in the heart of every sentient being. All love life. All commit that life in some way. Life reaches beyond itself. It manifests as love. So, although love is an eternal, and we can celebrate it any and every day, let us do so now, at this season, with those close to us, while keeping in our hearts those further afield, and let us pray that when this season has slipped into the past we shall all still be blessed and that the great beings will continue to take us by the hand and lead us across their nembutsu bridge day by day.
In the sincerity of such practice a Pure land will surely arise where all will speedily awaken.
Namo Amida Bu. Peace to each and all.
written at Eleusis, Berry, France 18th December 2013
*Updated with Retreat Schedule - see bottom of post
A rare opportunity for you to spend a week at a Pureland residential retreat
Giving and Receiving the Unimpeded Light
led by Dharmavidya David Brazier, Head of the Amida Order.
Dates: Monday 2 - Sunday 8 December 2013
Anyone interested in "giving and receiving the unimpeded light" will be welcome to come and find out more about living a spiritual life as seen through the lens of Pureland Buddhism. Those already involved with Amida will meet with old friends and new in our growing international sangha. The programme will include Buddhist practice, Dharma talks, space to share and continuous chanting and will conclude with a special ordination ceremony. More details below: