There is a series of audio recordings of talks that Dharmavidya gave in the summer of 2006 during a retreat in France
There is a series of audio recordings of talks that Dharmavidya gave in the summer of 2006 during a retreat in France
Here is a link to a Dharma Talk, given by Reverend Kaspalita, Amida Minster from Malvern:
In the first part of the talk I made some preliminary remarks about how as Pureland Buddhists we can relate to these lists of virtues, and then went on to share the Buddha's advice for successful communities.
You can listen to the talk below, and I have also copied and pasted some of my notes here as well.
Primary practice: Nembutsu
Auxiliary practices: Other spiritual practices which support the nembutsu & our spiritual life.
Secondary facilities: “Your knowledge and skills and accumulated experience, as tools for helping all sentient beings.”
As we continually bring ourselves closer to the Buddha the process of our faith increasing will happen naturally and somewhat unconsciously; our lived life will become closer to the preceptual life. At the same time secondary practices can help deepen our experience of nembutsu (showing our bonbu nature, for example).
Whilst the Buddha is the best dance partner in town, and can make us better dance partners just through spending time on the dance-floor with him, I believe we can also make some effort to be a better dance partner.
Precepts are a specific manifestation of love. Different objects of love require loving differently therefore we have many different sets of precepts.
The lists below can be considered precepts in this way, they are given in a specific context, but all in the spirit of love. The spirit of love is always worth cultivating, and the specific way in which these lists below suggest we manifest that love has relevance to how we build community today.
Conditions of a nation’s welfare
From the Maha-paranibanna Sutta 4.
"So long, Ananda, as these are the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline."
Welfare of the Bikkhus (MPNS. 6)
The growth of the bhikkhus is to be expected, not their decline, bhikkhus, so long as they:
Being a Sangha member
From ‘Being a Sangha member’ in Not Everything Is Impermanent, page 269:
The goal is to be able to live a fully human life in a noble manner.
From ‘Getting Real as A Sanga’ Ibid pg 304:
Posted on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 at 04:31 PM in Amida Pureland Retreat, Amida Sangha, amidashu, Buddhism, Buddhist, Ceremony, Dharma, Dharma Talks, Dharmavidya, Friends of Amida, Inspiration, Modgala, News, Pastoral Letter , Pureland Buddhism, Retreats, Susthama, Whispers from the Bamboo Grove, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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It's been a full and interesting week. Three evenings I gave talks to different groups within the sangha here on the topic "Que es Tomar Refugio en el Buda?" Each talk I spoke initially in Spanish and in the Wednesday talk I managed the whole thing in Espanol with help with an occasional word from my translator. Of course, when we got to the question and answer part at the end the translator came more fully into the picture. Nonetheless it felt very good to have managed a whole three quarter hour talk in Spanish - a first!
Then this Saturday morning Franca, Sumaya and I participated in the Zazenkai meeting which included a lengthy talk by Zen Master Celso Navarro. This time I managed to understand the whole talk apart from the jokes. When people break into more colloquial language one loses it. His talk was concerned with the universal nature of the Path of Awakening and I was very happy with the ecumenical flavour of his remarks.
We talk about Dharma training, but sometimes people are confused about the nature of this "training". By Dharma training we mean character transformation for the purpose of making one a more fitting instrument for the transmission of the Dharma. In this modern age of credentials, training courses and qualifications people may ask "What course should I follow in order to get my Buddhist training?" or "how will I get my Buddhist training certificate?" but this kind of training does not work in quite that sort of way.
Buddhist training generally occurs in the context of a master-disciple relationship. It is a bit like coaching and a bit like apprenticeship, but it has no standard form or syllabus. The master will watch the disciple and discern the latter's spiritual need and will seek to arrange the conditions that will assist the disciple to progress. Sometimes this is by facilitation and sometimes by sharpening the edge of the dilemma.
The disciple will observe the teacher's needs and do whatever he or she can to care for the teacher and assist his or her work. In the course of this relationship a reliable trust will develop. The two people involved will become aware of each other deeply in all their humanity. Through this love a transformation will come about. This transformation has much to do with the emergence and growth of faith.
At the same time it can also be seen in terms of the disciple working on his or her koan. The koan is the spiritual problem that the person has that prevents them entrusting themselves, prevents them fully understanding the Dharma truths, and keeps them locked in a particular pattern of attachment or addiction. We can say that it is what stops a person from fully living their life.
The main mode of operation of the training is that on the one hand the disciple absorbs something crucial from being within the field of influence of the teacher while, on the other hand, the teacher asks the disciple to do things or take things on, things that challenge or stretch the disciple in some way. They may require some particular talent or quality. They may demand endurance, intellignce, patience, courage or the taking of responsibility, but first and foremost they require faith and willingness. Through these tasks the disciple is tested and grows and the master's love for the disciple is demonstrated.
It is in the nature of relationships that they are not all the same. In the course of a life one might only have one teacher or one might have several, but if so then each relationship will be different and what one learns will be different. What I learnt from Kennet Roshi, from Thich Nhat Hanh, and from Saiko Sensei was not the same, but in each case it edged me toward being a more fully-functioning person and demolished some aspects of my rigidity.
Although there are various spiritual systems, training can never really be standardised and too much system can be counter-productive. The arahants enlightened by Shakyamuni Buddha were all very different characters. The masters recorded in the Denkoroku each had a different koan to overcome. Although the truth is simple the ways of avoiding it are infinitely varied and the means of training must be similarly diverse as well as being affected by the available resources. One of the most important "resources" in this respect is the sangha. It is through life in a community that so many of the facets of one's koan are brought to light. However, living in community without discipleship can easily result in a fixity of role and attachment to a particular identity and functional pattern. One task of the teacher is to disrupt such stereotyping. This is one of the reasons that sanghas are not always efficient organisations in the worldly sense.
There is an almost endless amount that one could say about training, its features and pitfalls. It is even arguable that "training" is not the right word for it. In Pali it is "sekha" and those who through following it have emerged from the obstacles to living their life are called asekha. This means that in the texts training does have an end and a goal, whatever you may have read elsewhere. In some respects, sekha is therapy, though it is not a self-indulgent or ruminative one, but rather one that involves facing life more honestly and directly. Although a person may become a disciple because there is something about the teacher that they admire, an important step in the course of training often comes at the point where the disciple experiences a softening of heart and realises that whatever accomplishments the teacher may have, in the end he or she is simply human with all that that implies. At this point the disciple stops trying to get something and it is just at that point that they do get something - though not what they expected.
Overall, therefore, training is not a course or programme. It is a matter of following the way in close co-operation with somebody who has him or herself been a disciple and walked that path for a good while before one. Nobody can be a master who has not been a disciple and discovered his or her humanity. Masters, disciples or whatever, we are all human beings with the same vulnerabilities. Training is not a path toward invulnerability, but one towards reality and the acceptance thereof in a manner that actualises our potential for love in a wise way. The training relationship is itself a most exquisite example of such love; tender, caring, non-possessive and liberating, it demands all and freely offers "the one thing needful".
We were very pleased to have a visit from the head of our Order, Dharmavidya, to our Amida Newcastle sangha meeting yesterday evening. The sangha were introduced to the '1,000 nembutsu' chanting practice and Dharmavidya talked about Pureland practice in terms of relationship. It was a very warm and touching evening with the meeting up of long-term friends and our newer members.
Tuesday evening I gave a Dharma talk and answered questions at the Amida Sanctuary in Newcastle. In this talk I referred to practice and training. Practice is the expression of love, compassion, joy and equanimity. It is the outward manifestation of our faith. Training is our attempt to deal with the tendencies within ourselves that block practice. When we look carefully we see that these always involves some failure of faith - perhaps based on fear, anxiety, greed, conceit, or the resurgence of some old habit pattern. Failure of faith means loss of nerve. All this raises the question of the relationship between personal effort and faith. The Buddhist way certainly makes demands upon us at the same time as advocating letting go. It tells us to "stand against the stream", but also to "accept everything". This seems contradictory to the uninitiated.::comment here
The Other Power teaching tells us that we do not have the power to realise enlightenment on our own or by simply actualising our own potency, but this does not mean that there is nothing to do in our life. It is like a relationship. one cannot have a relationship on one's own - it takes two - but the relationship when found does make demands. Practice and training are the same. It is neither something that is entirely within one's own power nor something that does all the work for one.
When we reflect upon our life we find that we have already been loved in some degree somehow. That is a basis for faith. Practice starts from gratitude. As we try to express our gratitude we run into obstacles. Love also entails disappointments. If these defeat us we fall spiritually. If we rise to them we find new possibilities of faith open up. A spiritual life can be a continual ascent or a series of setbacks. Actually these are the same thing looked at from different angles. If we become too preoccupied with training, we fall into a self-power attitude and all is spoilt - like trying to run a relationship without reference to the other partner. If we neglect training, however, we tend to just go round the same old circles again and again. Training means to learn from mistakes. The more we see how we are helped the easier it is to learn. the more we learn the more conscious we become of how we are helped.