Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Pureland full of foolish beings

Kaspalita writes: There is a thin pink streak of light in the eastern sky. The sun is well over the horizon and that last thread of colour tells me what a glorious sunrise I would have seen if I had been up a little earlier.

The valley is heavy with mist; a few hilltops and the tips of the tallest trees stand above the almost liquid fog.  A little closer to me the fields and gardens I can see are covered with a heavy frost. Not for the first time I can understand why C.S. Lewis and Tolkien used to come walking here.

There is something magical about a morning like this one. Looking out to this view gives me a sense of a much bigger world, a world beyond my own concerns and even a world even beyond what I can see outside. Somehow the mist which covers up what is there gives my imagination the space to image what isn’t there too.

It is me looking out into this magical scene: me with my ordinary body that aches in the cold and complains when I eat too much at Christmas, and my ordinary mind that takes selfish concerns and makes them into the whole of the world.

And I am living with ordinary people. Although we live in a space which inspires us to connect with something greater (and I am sure that tempers the selfishness) each of us carries our own concerns and dysfunctions with us.

When I first moved into a Buddhist community nearly 10 years ago I remember imagining that I could leave of all my baggage at the door. Just by stepping over the threshold I thought I could become someone new.

I have become someone new – but that process was fuelled by all of the baggage (excuse the mixed metaphor) rather than despite it.

As we move into the New Year it feels important to me to remember both halves of this picture: the beautiful magical landscape and also the ordinary human beings that live within it.

It is all too easy to forget how beautiful the world is. We create our own suffering and our selfishness bumps up against other people’s and then turns in on itself again.

It can be easy to make the same mistake in the other direction as well. To only see the ideal and become blind to the suffering of ourselves and others in case it disturbs the sense of peace we have gazing at the landscape. This is another form of selfishness, harder to see, but equally problematic as what we don’t see piles up and eventually comes tumbling down on us much more heavily than if we had paid attention to it sooner.

I will make a resolution to keep the beautiful landscape in the corner of my eye, to sometimes gaze at it with both eyes, and also to see the ordinary foolish beings (myself included) inhabiting this landscape. It is from the relationship between the two that compassion appears.

Happy Solstice

The light and the dark are perfectly balanced today. The day is as long as the night. Tomorrow the day will be a fraction longer and we begin the move towards spring.

Yesterday around one hundred and fifty people came to visit Amida Mandala, if you were one of them it was lovely to see you. If you were not, then come and see us in the new year!

Perhaps it would have been more auspicious to have the open day today, on the solstice itself. Nonetheless as the light of the day grows, I hope the light of the temple will grow. Of course next winter the daylight will wane again, but I hope that the light of the Temple will keep shining.

All human institutions have their beginnings and ends of course, and some day our light will wane as well.

This light, the love of the community and the warm spirit the Temple generates (that I felt surrounded by yesterday), is a small reflection of Amida’s light, which is without beginning or end, and is not confined by space.

It is only our own greed, hate and delusion that get in the way of us seeing this light all of the time. It is always there of course, whether we see it or not. I hope that the Temple and the Amida Mandala community will help us remember the light a little more often. And the light is love.

Wishing you peace,


Namo Amida Bu

We’re in!

Our new shrineWe have moved into our beautiful new building and we are full steam ahead… there has been lots to do and not much time to update this blog, but we hope to spend more time letting you know how we’re getting on after a good rest in the New Year. We hope you might come and visit us sometime soon…

Thank you to Sanghamita Adrian Thompson for this beautiful photo of our Buddha in the shrine room.

Namo Amida Bu, Satya