Dharmavidya's Pastoral Letter
March 31st, 2013
We have just completed the Mondo Sesshin. This was attended by a dozen people including five nationalities, a diversity that is not uncommon on Amida events. Mondo is about encounter and encounter is about meeting one another in faith rather than in a state of clashing egos. How fragile, brittle or bristling we can sometimes be! However, coming together in faith we can help one another to pass beyond fear and enter into an experience of deep confidence and entrustment.
I feel considerable satisfaction in the fact that we have, as a sangha, evolved a style of practice that demonstrates our faith in a rather robust manner such that those who came newly in our midst on this occasion certainly felt that they were encountering "the real thing". There is always a temptation in what some might call the contemporary spiritual marketplace to water down the message so as to cater for a wider public. I do feel that it is important to have some access points for people who are of a more generic spiritual persuasion or, alternatively, for those of a more secular turn of mind, but it is essential that we retain also occasions when the undiluted faith and practice are manifest and shared amongst us and this was one such occasion.
By robust practice, I am not referring necessarily to getting up before the dawn or to sitting for eight hours a day until one's knees require hospital treatment. I am, rather, talking about a deep and sincere expression of faith, devotion and communion, sometimes reaching to ecstatic proportion. The Amida-shu is distinctive, particularly in the West. Our visitor from China who had experienced quite a number of Western Buddhist practice groups, clearly felt very at home with what he found amongst us. What is distinctive is not a particular technique, but a spirit of faith, not an attempt to arrive at a particular mental state discarding all else, but rather to embrace our whole being and one another, trembling inwardly in astonishment at Amida's all acceptance.
If we can continue to meet in faith, practise our faith together, communicate our faith to one another, live our faith in the world, and support one another in that exquisite quality of life that emanates from such, then we shall be doing all that is needed. The forms of organisation, the conventions of clothing or etiquette, the structures for communication, the rules and forms that we adopt all have no other purpose than to facilitate this. I am delighted to be a part of such a remarkable spiritual family. Thank you very much.
Namo Amida Bu
New Dharma Book
Dharmavidya, under his lay name David Brazier, will very soon have a new book published entitled
Not Everything is Impermanent
Watch out for it on Amazon and elsewhere. The book has received excellent endorsements and brings together Dharma teachings on the spiritual life and in the field of social and cultural engagement.
Dharmavidya's Recent Activity
in February, two weeks of events in Spain, a Zen Therapy workshop at Zenshin-In in Belgium, and a visit to UK.
in March a workshop "Love and Its Disappointment" in Milan, working visit to Eleusis in France and the Mondo Sesshin (see below) in Belgium.
Dharmavidya will visit Canada in October-November
October 21-25 he will lead a five day retreat entitled
A Religious Life of Truly Simple Faith
This event is already well booked so if you are interested do not lose time in contacting Prajnatara at Amida Mosaic firstname.lastname@example.org
While in Canada he will also give a Zen Therapy workshop entitled
Anger Blame Guilt and Sorrow
at Kings University College October 26-27
In addition he will give public talks, spiritual direction interviews, a day seminar (November 2) on
Love, Grace & Confidence in Daily Life
and a number of events for the Dharma Centre of Canada.
Other longer term travel plans
Korea in August 2013
Argentina in April-May 2014
Hawai'i in October 2014
California in October 2014
The centre that was Amida France is open to visitors from June onward. If you have been to Amida France in the past or are interested in going in the future do follow this link to join the Eleusis ning community
In particular, you are invited to attend
Zen Therapy: Four Day professional programme June 13-16
Spiritual Teacher Training open group June 18-21
The Mondo Sesshin gathering in Oud Turnhout in Belgium was a warm and creative gathering enriched by the presence of a scholar guest from China who expressed enthusiasm for the existence of such authentic Dharma practice.
The Instituto Terapia Zen Internacional now has a team of 32 people from 13 countries representing some 20 different projects, centres, sanghas or networks. ITZI exists to foster the teaching and practice of Buddhist psychology - to find out more, follow this
AA is an on-line academic platform established by ITZI to deliver distance learning programmes. The ITZI English language distance learning programme in Zen Therapy & Buddhist Psychology was the first programme to go live, quickly followed by the Amida Trust ministry training programme called Vow 22. In February 2013 a Spanish language version of the Zen Therapy & Buddhist Psychology programme commenced and other programmes are in preparation
Read previous Whispers from the Bamboo Grove newsletters here