Welcome to Amida Newsletter #17

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This edition features a seasonable message from the Head of the Amida Order, Dharmavidya David Brazier and links to photographs and Dharma Talks from the Bodhi Retreat


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Whispers from
the Bamboo Grove

Amida Newsletter Number 17

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Dharmavidya's Seasonal Message

December 18th, 2013

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

During the retreat we held two ceremonies.
We wish to offer congratulations

* to our new Acharya, Susthama
* to Pundarika, Vimalashri and Kuvalaya,
on their elevation from Gankonin to Minister
* to Oscar, on his becoming a Lay member of the Amida Order
* to Adam and Howard,
on entering the Amida School (Amida-shu)
* to Kusumavarsa and all who reaffirmed their taking of Refuge
* to Justin, who took Refuge,
thereby joining the family of the Buddha

* and to Lut, Oscar and Adam,
who became Aspirants on the Amida Ministry path

Photographs from the Bodhi Retreat
Many thanks to Floor Nijman for these wonderful photographs


Dharma Talks from the Bodhi Retreat News

:: link

Follow these links to listen or to download as mp3s. You can also comment on the talks on the Friends of the Amida Order ning site

Modgala's talk - the first talk of the Bodhi Retreat :: here

Sujatin's talk - the second talk of the Bodhi Retreat :: here

Susthama's talk - the third talk from the Bodhi Retreat :: here

Q&A with Dharmavidya at the Bodhi Retreat
:: here


Amida Hawaiʻiʻs 2014 Million Nembutsu Practice...Please Join Us!

Amida Hawaiʻi Pureland Buddhist Sangha would like to invite one and all to join our sangha in a hyakuman-ben (1 million) nembutsu practice for 2014. As a daily practice, it would be the equivalent of chanting the 108 beaded nenju rosary 26 times each day (actually, that would come to about 9 days over the million mark). Not a practice to accomplish anything in particular...simply a practice to enjoy, strengthen and deepen you affinity with Amida Buddha. Namo Amida Bu! ~ Shantikara

:: link


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