You'll find Talk 2 here
34 min:04 sec
You'll find Talk 2 here
34 min:04 sec
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.
QUESTION: If everyone is equal in the assuredness of their place in Pureland, does this not discourage people from efforts to behave nobly (e.g. following the Noble Eightfold Path)? How does this relate to the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths?
DHARMAVIDYA ~ SHORT ANSWER: The eightfold path is a natural outcome of true faith and nobody enters the Pureland without faith.
LONG ANSWER: In my understanding, the Eightfold Path is a description of the life of an enlightened person. In Other Power spirituality we have faith in the saving grace of such people. The more faith we have, the more our life comes naturally under their influence and inspiration and, naturally, the closer one's life then approximates to the Eightfold Path.
The idea that the Eightfold Path is a way to arrive at enlightenment, however, is a mistake. The Buddha did not become Buddha by following the Eightfold Path. He discovered the Eightfold Path by becoming enlightened. The Eightfold Path is an outcome, not a means. We do not have the ability to follow the Eightfold Path by our self-direction. The actions of deluded beings are deluded.
The correct understanding of the Four Truths is as follows. They are correctly called Four Truths for Noble Ones.
1. Dukkha is a truth for noble ones. This means that noble ones are not free from dukkha. Noble ones are noble precisely because they accept and face dukkha rather than running away from it.
2. Dukkha-Sumudaya is a truth for noble ones. This means that for noble ones things (emotions, thoughts, impulses, etc.) come up. For ordinary beings this leads them into distractive, escapist, ego-centred or self-destructive behaviours. However, noble ones are capable of unhooking themselves and handling the emotions differently.
3. Dukkha-Sumudaya-Nirodha is a truth for noble ones. This means that noble ones are able to handle the emotions that come up. They are able to do so because they have faith and so do not panic. They trust that all is well.
4. Marga is a truth for noble ones. This means that the outcome of the above three steps is that noble ones are on the path.
The correct understanding of entering the Pure Land is as follows. Every Buddha has a "Buddha field" or "Pure Land". This is he field of influence of that Buddha's great merit, just like the magnetic field around a magnet. When we enter such a field we get magenised too. We become little magnets. In order to enter such a field we have to turn our hearts toward a Buddha. The Buddha who is said to be most accepting is Amida. This is because of the nature of the vows hat he made. Therefore, Pureland Buddhists turn to Amida and have faith in his saving power and thereby enter into his field. All who do so will eventually, naturally, walk upon the Eightfold Path. There is nothing discouraging about entering the Buddha field of Amida Tathagata.
"This is a lovely, gentle introduction to a lesser known (in the west) Buddhist tradition. It gives a user friendly outline of what Pureland Buddhism is and a realistic insight into the lifestyle of devotional religion. The authors use their experience to carry a message of compassion and a deep insight into Human nature as foundational aspects of a revolutionary way of life. An essential read for the Buddhist who wants to look beyond the dogma to the heart of the teaching. Namo Amida Bu!"
~ Adam Dunsby
"An enjoyable and understandable read. Very open, honest, and realistic. Covering day to day temple life and daily experiences, and shared moments of real insight.
Both writers and contributors capture the essence of what is unique in Pureland Buddhism and explain simply the various methods of practice.
A very positive and helpful book with a feeling of real gratitude running throughout."
"This is a very accessible introduction to Pureland Buddhism and an open account of life in a temple. Factual information is clear and never dry, and this alternates with personal experiences which are always honest. The overall impression is of warmth and acceptance - a must read for Buddhists, non Buddhists and the spiritually curious."
~ Amazon customer
Recently some of the information from the website I made some time ago has been transferred by Reverend Kaspalita to the much cleaner-looking Amida India website.
However, as some of the history of how the Amida Order came to be involved have been condensed, here are some of the stories:
Dharmavidya ~ The beginning: How Amida became involved
Back in the 1990s sometime I was at a meeting concerned with our work in Africa when a bhikkhu gave me a letter from a Chakma refugee in India. I replied to the letter and thus began our involvement with the Chakma tribal people in the North East. In due course this led to visits by representatives of the Chakmas to Amida trust in the UK. One of these was another bhikkhu, Anomadharsi. He urged us to start a project in India and advised that it would be best to do so in Delhi. In due course Amida people, including Acharya Modgala, were on their way to Delhi to set up an educational project. The scheme worked with children of impoverished families and focused on the teaching of English. Language teaching, however, also provided a vehicle for examination of social attitudes and an attempt to introduce an approach to education that is non-violent and inclusive. The project was a success, but we certainly had to learn a lot ourselves about the local culture and possible ways of proceeding. In due course a disciple of Modgala, Reverend Sahishnu, a minister in the Amida Order, took over the leadership of the project and with a notably creative and imaginative style was able to increase the outreach of the project to more groups living in even greater degrees of deprivation. Later Jnanamati, an Amida amitarya, also became involved and has given support to the Delhi project and also to the work of the Tathagata Trust in Assam with whom we have latterly established good connections. Modgala, Sahishnu, Jnanamati and numerous volunteers have done courageous work with minimal resources and the projects in Delhi and Assam now, in addition to teaching English, also provide important support to those in India who wish to return to traditional forms of Buddhism as a basis for community development, social advancement and the spread of wisdom and compassion.
Beginnings - Modgala's Story
In July 2004 Dharmavidya asked me to go to India. Previously I had said no but this time I said yes, because Anomadharshi, a Chakma monk, who had co-founded the Maitri project in Delhi, convinced me of the need and I learnt that there was already an excellent experienced volunteer on board – Joy Marston*. The request was to provide teaching of English as a foreign language to people of the disadvantaged and oppressed Dalit community, as the ability to speak English in India is seen as a distinct advantage in the job market. There was also a need for Buddhist teachings, because many Dalits are Buddhists, their families having been followers of Dr Ambedkar and converting to Buddhism in the 1950s.
In November 2004 Joy, Cathy (another volunteer) and I went to join Anomadharshi in East Delhi where the Maitri project had rented a large apartment. This was to give us accommodation and provide teaching spaces. The Chakmas (monks and lay people) advertised our presence and we did wonder if anyone would come. Initially only two teenage boys turned up, but they spread the word and soon we had over 50 children and young people, so that we had to set up a waiting list for daytime classes and provide evening sessions for the older students.
In the beginning there were struggles around discipline with our students. They were used to learning by rote and had never experienced our teaching methods. It soon became clear that it would be vital to set up a code of conduct. This was practical and effective and helped students realise a new way of living and learning in a gentler but lively, structured and disciplined atmosphere.
Joy, an experienced teacher, inspired the younger ones, Cathy set up classes with older students, and I held conversation classes as our students started to be able to speak some English. In my classes, we discussed the many difficulties that faced young people and the activities they enjoyed – particularly cricket!. Ultimately we were able to talk about preparing for exams, interviews and the world of work. This demonstrated our students’ growing confidence. As our experience grew, we decided that the classes worked best for 15 to 25 year olds, we put in place an active programme of encouraging female students and we also welcomed students of all faiths.
Requests came for Joy to teach in Buddhist temples where there were predominantly younger students. We were also asked to go to Shanti Nagar where there was a Buddhist community on the outskirts of Delhi. I will never forget the look on the women’s faces at Shanti Nagar when they first experienced Joy’s teaching and realised that they too could learn some English. They had thought it was impossible. This is another important aspect of the project – learning instills confidence and faith.
While we were in Delhi, the Tsunami happened and I was asked to visit and see the devastation and to see where Amida Trust could help. The worst affected were the very poor Dalits. I went around giving talks and meeting with people and distributing books and bags to the children who had lost everything. When we returned to India in 2005 we had nine volunteers who divided their time between the Delhi project and the children’s hostel in Tamil Nadu to help Tsunami-affected children recover from the trauma.
*The Delhi project was subsequently run by Joy Marston, who is now called Sahishnu, having been given this name when she ordained as an Amida Minister.
Acharya Modgala Duguid ordained as a nun in 1998 and is a senior teacher in the Amida Order.
Kaspalita reflects on his visits to Amida Delhi
I've been to the Delhi three times with Amida, the first time was just a flying visit when I went to support some refuge ceremonies there, the second and third time were substantial visits, about six weeks each, I think. At the most basic level, I went because I was asked to, but of course it was more than that. I was excited to visit another culture, and nervous too. I had been inspired by hearing Saishnu and Modgala talk about their time there and was eager to experience it for myself.
The families we worked alongside were mostly Dalit families, and mostly converted to Buddhism because of Dr Ambedkar. There's plenty written on how difficult it has been for Dalit families in India, and it's a complex picture, but it's true that in my time in Delhi there were stories of violence coming from caste differences, and stories from the families we worked alongside that showed me castesim is far from gone.
I first visited Amida Delhi in 2010 shortly after joining the sangha of the Amida Order, then based in Narborough in the UK. Not only was I just starting out on a path of training where many things were new to me but also this was my first time in India and first time travelling outside of Europe.
I remember the first day distinctly, the warm welcome from Rev. Sahishnu, Prakash Nagar (now a Lay Order member) and members of the sangha, most of whom I met at the small flat Prakash rented for us. A gathering in my honour, that evening I had the pleasure to encounter the people who would subsequently become special friends, and dharma brothers and sisters.
In the weeks that followed I assisted Rev. Sahishnu as she conducted English classes with children in some of the poorest areas on the borders between Delhi and Uttah Pradesh. It was also a great pleasure to be invited to conduct Buddhist services with those who had decided to follow the Amidist way.
I only have space for a short summary here, and anything I share will not do full justice to the project or the richness of experience I have received through my involvement. I have since returned to the project now on a number of separate occasions, either to assist the sangha directly or to visit friends when travelling to other parts of India. In that time I have seen the sangha move to new premises in Ashok Nagar, seen Dharma friends ordain and others advance in their roles in relation to the Amida Order and the Delhi sangha itself.
The generosity of spirit stands out amongst members in Delhi, and this despite the evident paucity of resources and conditions they must face in their daily lives. In fact our most senior community leaders, Suvidya and Suando live in a one room dwelling with their two grown up sons and dog, Jacky. Despite these challenges they give as much as they can and are dedicated to the development of the small group of Buddhists that make up their community. I am privileged to count many as my friends and to have been welcomed into the lives of some very special people. I have spent time teaching wonderfully open hearted children and now have had the opportunity to witness how many who have attended the classes have developed and grown through Sahishnu's efforts.
Amita Jnañamati, Amitarya OAB
Sujatin: Most of the photographs on this site are by Jnanamati for which, great thanks
Sahishnu - how I came to be involved with the project in Delhi
I had been a member of the Amida Sangha since the late 1990s, during which time I became a disciple of Modgala’s. When I heard about the proposal for work in Delhi under the Maitri project in 2004, I asked if I could go to India with Modgala as a volunteer and help her to set it up. Back then, at the beginning, I had very little idea of how deeply involved I would later become.
Although the work of teaching English to people of the Dalit community was valuable, at the beginning I did feel rather like a service provider trapped in an authoritarian Victorian kind of school, where the teacher was the fount of all knowledge, with the task of merely prepping the students for their exams. I knew that the suicide rate is very high within the Dalit community, and I was desperate to do what I could to help change the mind set that led to the suicides. So while the work was rewarding, I still felt that we were not reaching the very poor Dalits (former Untouchables) that I so wanted to help.
One day, I accompanied Modgala to the grounds of a small temple where she had been invited by some female students to tell them about Pureland Buddhism. A small gang of kids turned up disrupting the discussion, so I took them into the temple and kept them busy with rhymes and actions. They enjoyed themselves so much that they begged me to come back and to teach them some more. I
agreed and did so, and within weeks over 100 kids in this slum would turn up to learn because it was fun. Moms and Dads came too, and then over time people came from other areas to ask me to teach their communities, having heard about me through word of mouth.
When the Maitri project folded, I relocated to a flat just outside that slum. By this time, I had been asked to become project leader. I decided to extend the outreaches into the slums and to teach English to the younger children in a fun, interactive and engaging way, in an attempt to instill a love of learning and creativity. Through doing the teaching work I have become very much part of the local
communities, and on their request started to teach them about Pureland Buddhism. We now have a healthy set of communities who have become Pureland practitioners, with 1 Lay Order member, 3 Gankonin and more joining Amida-shu each year. We hold weekly services at our new centre above our Order Member Prakash’s house. I love the ladies’ day best when we have a meal together and a service. We serve 5 communities now: Laxmi Garden, Shanti Nagar, Jawan Nagar, Ambedker Colony and Ashok Nagar. Of course I
continue to teach English to these communities and also to the street beggar children in Pahar Ganj in the backpacker area of Delhi. We supply all the materials necessary, as although there is a room, desks and a whiteboard, all of which have been donated, there are no teachers (apart from myself) or teaching materials at all. I am now involved in training people from within these communities to carry on the project: for instance, I am teaching the Pahar Ganj child councilor how to teach as I do, and I am training members of the Sangha to become Buddhist ministers in their own right.
Endorsement of Sahishnu and her work in Delhi
So honourable and most respectable Madam Sahishnu
You have prepared to leave for England. It is unbearable sorrow for us all. But it is urgent to go to you. England is your motherland and everybody likes to love one's country. You must go to gain your family. It is our great pleasure.
You came to India by sparing your most valuable time and your health also does not favour you, yet summoned the courage to come to us to teach English [to] poor children and you taught not only the children but also us. We had a great inspiration from you to be devoted to Lord Buddha's doctrines and his religion. Buddha who had come over worst persons. He was the prophet of peace, love and equality. What a glorious matter you have embraced (adopted) His religion. He taught the people that no one is greater or lower than one another. He taught all are born equal and have same (equal) right to live. Even he thought that all creatures are equal to human, loved equally. It is a matter of great pride you follow Him (Buddha). All the members as well as the Proctor (Bhanteji) wish to express their gratitude and obligations to you. The Bl (belong to Samrat Ashoka Buddha Temple). The Committee (Regd) to Samrat Ashoka Budha Temple) wishes that Amida Trust should take it over and make it run. It is well better it runs under eye and care of the Trust.
Amida Trust is indulged to take Buddha's message and teaching all over the world. His message causes peace and tranquility in the world. He wishes so and you [are] on the way to carry on his words. You are great like Buddha and Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar revived his religion and brought a new sensation and awakening among the troddens. He gave the great talismans to Dalits (trampled):
1: To be educated
2: to be united
3: To make struggle
Baba Saheb Bhim Ambedkar was also great like Buddha. We can say that Baba Saheb was the incarnation of 'Buddha'.
Madam, we are unable to repay you of your devotion and dedication towards 'Buddha'. You read about Buddha through Baba Saheb's books and you left for Buddha's mission of religion. We have no words to express your obligation and gratitudes. We would say only that you are great and we hope [for] your happy and long life by the grace of great Buddha and hope [that you] come again next year.
Endorsement of Sahishnu by the residents of Laxmi Gardens
On behalf of the residents of Laxmi Garden colony (slum) Loni (Ghaziabad) U.P.,
we are the residents of Laxmi Garden Colony Loni Ghaziabad U.P.
Herewith, we beg to state that on the request (invitation) of all of us, Madam
Sahishnu comes here (to this place) - how glad we are, no words we have [to
express this]. [Despite] being so ill, she comes to us and fills us with great joy.
Everybody - children alike elders - are very much pleased with her and wish
[that she comes] every year. She not only teaches English [to] the children but
she also gives the complete information about Guatam Buddha and jewel of
India Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Everybody listens her very attentively. She tells
about Buddha and his teaching in a good way. She teaches the children English
Grammar nicely, [sets] the children tests and gives prizes to the well-doers.
She gives the children toffees, toys, pencils, stars, and books related to Buddha
and Ambedkar. She spends a lot of money on such good deeds. We can never
forget her [and] we wish her long life so she may guide us. We are consider[ably]
indebted and owed to her. She gets many papers prepared to give the test of
English Grammor and Buddha as well as Babasad Ambedkar – [before] we were
all most ignorant about both these great personalities. Now we are familiar with
them through respected SahishnuGi. She is [a] good fan of them and considers
them a means of inspiration.
Sushma Gautam Choudhury Amint
P.S: You have passion and compassion. You have compassion like Quan Shi
Yin so you [are] Quan Shi Yin for us.
Sarvesh Bodh Rakhi Gautam Naresh Gautam Arvind Gautam
Kaspalita's visit to Delhi, August 2014
Reverend Kaspalita visited the Delhi sangha, at the behest of the Trust, in August 2014. On 23rd he wrote:
It’s my second day here in Delhi and my first full day after my arrival yesterday morning. My energy levels are up and down. I guess that comes from a combination of the heat during the day, the heat during the night that keeps me awake, and the fact I’m still catching up from the loss of sleep on an overnight flight where I, perhaps foolishly, thought I would be able to slumber the whole night through.
I'm here on behalf of Amida Trust, who will be more directly funding the project here. In the past we have supported the project through sending volunteers, and through providing Sahishnu with the funds she needed when she was the project leader here.
Now the project (the Amida activity, if you like) is being led by Suvidya a Minister in our Order, and he has created a local organisation which the Trust will fund to enable the project to continue.
I'm here to make sure everything that needs to be in place, is in place as much as it can be, in order for that to happen.
Suvidya and his wife Suando came over this morning and we caught up with our respective news. They both look well and Suvidya’s English is much better than the last time I was here four years ago.
I was heartened to hear that Suvidya hosts services at his home each morning and evening, and that people from the local community come and join him. He’s also teaching Buddhist classes and basic English classes to children.
English is one of the official languages here in India in a country with so many different official languages it often becomes the language of choice when people with two different native languages meet, although I hear that this may be changing with the new prime minister.
Either way it’s still an important skill and one that children of poor families often don’t get much support in learning. When the Order first made friends in Delhi we asked them, “what’s the most useful thing we can do to help?” Teaching English was the answer.
Suvidya is also meeting lots of different people interested in Pureland Buddhism. We talked about how we don’t feel like we need to convert people to this style of Buddhism. Suvidya has said that some people practicing Theravaden Buddhism here are quite happy in their own tradition, and in terms of reaching out to people with an Amidist message, it’s often non-Buddhists who are more interested.
This is equally true in the UK of course, if you are happy with the tradition you are practicing in you might be interested to learn about other forms of Buddhism, but you’re not likely to attend their meetings.
Part of the role I feel we have is to support people who have faith in good things, whether or not those good things go by the same name as our good things. This isn’t to say we should throw away our critical thinking, but to appreciate that there are many good ways of practicing. It was good to hear Suvidya coming to the same conclusions.
A great deal of the work he does is teaching Buddhism to the children of families who are either neglected by other monks, or are in relationships to monks who have been taught how to chant a few texts in Pali but are less adept at putting across teachings in local languages.
I am sure the care he shows and the enthusiasm he has for his faith is equally as important as the content of the message he is teaching.
Suvidya and Suando spent the morning here, but by lunchtime they could see I was flagging and took their leave.
I’ll meet them again tomorrow morning.
I’ve got some energy back this afternoon, perhaps I am becoming a little more used to the heat, or more likely having a rest helped. Anyway it’s given me the concentration I’ve needed to write here, and to catch up on a few other bits and pieces.
With love from Delhi, where they are waiting for the rains,
Kaspalita's visit to Delhi, August 2014: 2 A Buddhist Class in India
On 24th August Kaspalita wrote:
The sky is darkening as I write this. It’s the end of Sunday and I’ve been much more awake today. Either I’m getting used to the heat or I have just caught up on the sleep I had been missing out on.
This afternoon I took the opportunity to visit one of the children’s classes that Suvidya is teaching. I was curious to see what they were like now that he’s leading them on his own, and wanted to make the most of my revived energy levels.
Yesterday there were around thirty children in the afternoon class, today there were just under twenty. There’s no register, so to speak, although the children that do appear are all regulars.
We met in the front room of Suvidya’s brother’s house today. I think it was the atmosphere that impressed me the most, and Suvidya’s unhurried relaxed leadership. There were children of all ages there, from just a couple of years up to fifteen. It was wonderful to see them all sharing the space, interacting with each other and being interested in what was happening in the class.
It was the English lesson first, and then the Buddhist class. Whilst anyone can drop in to the English classes, Suvidya makes sure that only children with their parent’s permission come to the Buddhist group. Today most of the children in the Buddhist group were from Hindu families, it’s crucial for the children to get the parent’s permission in those cases (in all cases really), and for us to be clear that they have it. We don’t want to convert people, which is a sensitive issue in India, rather make a space for those that want to attend to attend.
There was chanting, prostrations, a ‘pop quiz’ on the five precepts, and I told a story to the class before seeing the magnificent pictures they had been colouring in.
I did take a few photos but don’t seem to have captured any smiles, although there were lots of smiles there. I think they must all have been concentrating on what Suvidya was saying when I was behind the camera… that’s my excuse anyway.
Love from Delhi
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.
Every two years, we hold an international retreat, which will include periods of continuous chanting of the nembutsu, which we know, from past experience, has a wonderful effect upon participants. The retreat may also include teachings, seminars, silent periods, Amidist ceremonial, and opportunities for personal sharing.
During this time the Order holds ordinations, commitment ceremonies and renewals of refuge, membership and precepts.
Amida Northeast, Durham, UK
Saturday 5th December
10am - 4pm
Kuvalaya: "The 5th of December will be our northern Bodhi Day. I'm delighted to say that Sujatin will travel down from Perth and join us for the day! There will be chanting, Pureland practice and teaching, and a ceremony."
For further details, if you are in the Durham or NE England area,
:: contact Kuvalaya
Amida Scotland Bodhi Day in Perth
Tuesday 8th December
7 pm - 9 pm
Delighted that we will be celebrating Bodhi Day in 'The Fair City' of Perth, for the first time. During the evening there will be Pureland Sutra reading, a period of extended nembutsu chanting, renewal of vows, warm community and, of course, seasonal refreshments.
:: for more details
Posted on Wednesday, 04 November 2015 at 12:33 PM in Amida, Amida around the world, Amida Hawai'i, Amida Malvern, Amida Pureland Retreat, Amida Sangha, Amida Scotland, Buddhism, Buddhist, Buddhist Practice, Ceremony, Dharmavidya, Diary, News, Pureland Buddhism, Taigh an t-Solais, Whispers from the Bamboo Grove | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Many people in the Delhi/UP border regions of India are currently suffering fever, some the more potentially dangerous and fatal virus dengue. A number of members of the Amida group based in the area of Shanti Nagar have fallen ill and at least one, Amida shu member Rakesh has been hospitalised. Rev. Suvidya, our minister, also has a worsening fever. This morning he put out a call for help on Facebook as members of his community have little money and will struggle to pay for the anti-virals to treat their symptoms. I spoke to him on Friday and at that time he was also telling me that Rakesh's family would only be able to pay two thirds of his hospital bill (about 50,000 Indian Rupees). In paying what they can they will be in debt and most likely have little money available to buy food and other essentials.
On the behalf of Amida Delhi we would like to ask for your help by making a donation so that members of the community can buy the medicines and obtain the medical care they need. We know times are hard and that there are many other causes and citizens of the world facing extreme hardships; burdened with illness, disease and famine. However this is a group of people who are also our colleagues, who are doing Amida's compassionate work with others and who really do need our support at the moment. If you can spare something please do donate by following the link (:: here) on the left of this page "SUPPORT NEPAL & INDIA" and click the "DONATE" button.
All money will go to Rev. Suvidya to directly enable the provision of medicines and care to his congregation.
Namo Amida Bu
There is a series of audio recordings of talks that Dharmavidya gave in the summer of 2006 during a retreat in France
Here are many more audio teachings
by Amida Ministers, Rev Kaspalita and Rev Satyavani of Amida Mandala
The Buddha is a light in our lives. Each must walk his own path, but that path is illumined by the light shed by the example of all the Buddhas. The merit which they bestow upon us brings courage and light-heartedness such that walking the path is in no way a burden, but rather the experience of the most complete joy and ease that can be found in this and all possible worlds.
Life is full of challenges and difficulties and there are innumerable books of wisdom that can come to our aid, not to mention living teachers. However, we also derive a great blessing by considering the life of the Great Sage. To walk in the same spirit cannot be faulty. Therefore, we can learn things of immense value by considering, at each step, what would Buddha think? how would he respond to this situation? And, indeed, how is he viewing it and holding it?
Although we ourselves may be incapable of imitating the unconditional love, compassion and wisdom of the Sage, still we can learn a great deal both by his example and also by our awareness of his great acceptance. Reflecting in this way one will gradually put one’s life under that benevolent guidance. It will exercise a subtle gravitational pull and one will find, almost without knowing it, that the habit of repeated reflection upon Buddha, has worked a mysterious influence, diminishing greed, hatred and delusion and injecting peace, clarity and compassion.
Reciting sutras is highly beneficial as is studying them. However, there are many people who have read a great many books on the subject who have still not managed to really enter into the spirit of the Middle Way. They may have become highly learned, even, but command of concepts is not the same thing as actualisation of the Path itself. It is an easy thing to mistake the possession of the labels for things for possession of the things themselves. However the actualisation of the Path is not a function of intelligence; it is open to all.
In fact, the actualisation of the Way does not even depend upon being Buddhist at all. A person who is filled with wisdom and compassion is in the stream whether they learnt to be so from our school of thought or not. There are many Buddhas and not all of them are Buddhists in the conventional sense of the term. The truths of the Dharma are universal and eternal and are not limited to one culture or religion. Nonetheless, for those who have the good fortune to be karmically associated with the Buddhist religion, the life of the Great Sage can provide all that one needs and one should take refuge there as soon as possible.
~ Dharmavidya, 15 August, 2015