Amida is the context in which we all live. This ‘Being Without Measure’ that all life unfolds within. Consider the dinosaurs, some of which stood the height of 3 double-decker busses; or the infinitely tiny virus, multitudes of which dance beneath our skin. All the breathing in and out of existence balanced upon Amida’s fingertip. All of which is innocent of malice. Only the Human animal and what it brings to the banquet gives us cause to pause.
When I invoke the Name Buddha, Amida, Christ or God, I do so tentatively, as shorthand pointing toward what is Sacred to my understanding - the quickening source of life itself in all its forms.
We live in a time of war, in a time of hanging on to wealth at any price. What a futile misuse of creativity and resources we spend on warfare. Weapons of mass destruction indeed. A genii let loose, and sold to the highest bidder.
The very matrix of life itself is in jeopardy and we need to admit our complicity in this. The image of the Last Supper comes to mind as the disciples question Christ with regard that particular sell out - Is it I Lord? We are all involved whether we like it or not.
Recently within our London Sangha, we considered the nature of koan in daily life and what our particular conundrum might be. We went on to reflect upon how what is personal might well be common to other people and in fact spiral out into society as a whole.
Newsreaders speak of ‘unrest’ (what a euphemism!) in the Middle east, the so-called Arab Spring, as we hear about it on the television, seems like an unfolding nightmare.
There are no lack of koans in daily life - one begins to take form in my mind. In many respects this appears to be most important question of all and one I shall try to give shape to in a moment.
What does the Buddha make of Syria and the slaughter happening there? What does God make of this mayhem; the bombing of residential areas; the homes within which entire families cower? Compared to us all other forms of life appear benign.
Many of us are disturbed by all of this, how could we not be? The loss of life, the terror, evokes prayer and nembutsu. How to hold this uncertainty, this apprehension, this sadness we all must feel, sooner or later? Our task is to attempt to alleviate it, but also to place this pain in a position of open receptivity to what still remains lovely in life, to Grace. There is love; there is kindness and contrition and forgiveness; there is compassion. The Human Heart is here still. When Frederic Franck calls us to “Remain Human at All Cost”, this is what he means.
This then, is the big question - In the midst of suffering and loss are we still able to find fulfilment and joy in life. Ultimately, within the Holy is there such a thing as the Unholy? If our hearts are open Amida’s light is free to flow in and flow out. And we are there equally for ourselves and for other beings human and non human.