We are not in the business of retiring in Amida-shu. I've noticed this in my own life! Here's Dharmavidya's latest Pastoral letter, in which he sets out the directions his life has taken and the new directions he feels it will be taking, now he has reached his 60s:
Pastoral Letter of 30th March 2007
is a tradition in Japan that when you turn sixty you should start some
new project or direction in life. This week we have been remembering
Rev. Gyomay Kubose who was the first patron of Amida Trust - a
wonderful man loved by all. When he was sixty, having established the
Buddhist Temple of Chicago, he went back to Japan for three years and
got a masters degree in Buddhist Studies from Otani University. Gyomay
sensei had not had the educational opportunities when he was young that
are available now. His family had subsisted by picking fruit and
vegetables as immigrant labourers in the USA and he had been interned
during World War II. He went on teaching Dharma until a short illness
took him away from this life at the age of 94 in the year 2000. He was
a man of the twentieth century. What must we do in the 21st?
Personally I do not feel any need to go and get a further academic
qualification - I've done plenty of that - so my visit to Japan in
April will be much shorter than Sensei's was. I am very much looking
forward to a brief visit to our friends there from whom I always learn
so much. What they teach me is not so much a doctrine or academic
discipline but rather they impress me with the depth of their religious
feeling. It puts a stamp upon one.
No, I think my new sixties venture is going to be more to do with
getting out and spreading that feeling around. Over the past eleven
years since Reverend Master Jiyu died we have seen a new vehicle for
the transmission of the Dharma come into being. There is clearly more
design in our accidents than at first appears. The Amida-shu is now
established and the Amida Order is growing and developing. Everything
is now in place for a new phase of outreach.
What are your weekend plans? It's rather late to be posting these. Friday evening I travelled by train to Sheffield. Little wheeled backpack loaded with the usual stuff plus robe, bell, copy of ceremony in smart French folder, iPod and...
So there we were, coming to the end of a wonderful two weeks in Kephalonia, thinking that another time three weeks rather than two would be possible - wouldn't that be a nice idea?
Last afternoon by the pool, although the weather wasn't so good - there were distant thunderstorms sweeping down between Kephalonia and Ithaka, Kephalonia and Zakynthos. But we were in sunshine. Suddenly one not so distant - a huge crash and, not much later, torrential rain. I grabbed towels and dashed off to our room. Peter followed but his dash must have been too fast for the combination of rain and tiled path. Crash - that was him - his feet skidding forward from under him as he turned the corner of the building. Laden, so no hands to break the fall. Head and hard surface. Not a good meeting. He lost memory of the next 20 minutes and hasn't regained it.
He was helped to the room by another guest and Hara, the owner of the
apartments. During the next quarter of an hour he asked me at least a
dozen times "What happened to me?"
Tomorrow we are leaving the Amida Newcastle sangha, Peter's staff and the cats in charge of the house and heading off to Kephalonia for a much-desired time of relaxation, basking in the sun, swimming and reading. A belated treat for my birthday. link
It's a couple of weeks since my birthday. I was wondering how it would feel. I found myself, before the event, to my slight astonishment, looking forward to it and feeling mischievous. As though we baby boomers are given our bus passes as some sort of mistake. My gran was an old lady at fifty - yet, for me, sixty feels barely middle aged. Middle aged sounds stodgy. I hope never to reach stodgy.
In the event it feels like a portal to an new stage of life which has a sense of openness and freedom about it. I feel freed, too, by Amrita's example. She didn't let herself be constrained by boundaries, by the expected. How silly to be still looking over my shoulder. Can't be doin' with that. There's no time to be timid. Too much to do, both the serious and that which is delight and fun.