Heading for Extinction Yesterday I was speaking to David Loy, the author of ecodharma. We were talking about what Buddhism is for and David reminded me of Yun Men’s answer to the question, “What are the teachings of a whole lifetime?”
What was Yun Men’s reply? “An appropriate response.”
In the present day the greatest challenge we face is the climate crisis, caused by humans and the sixth mass extinction, caused by humans. Can Buddhism support us to make an appropriate response? David suggested that it can, that our practices can resources us to take action, and support activists to have faith. That as well as being the cause of great harm – the virus – we can also provide a solution – become the antibodies.
We also talked about the importance of not being attached to outcomes. Of the value of taking right action for it’s own sake. If you’re not sure how serious the climate crisis is, or want more information, watch this video: Heading for Extinction.Thanks to Suzanne from our local XR group, who gave this talk at the temple on Saturday night. This is probably being given in person at your local XR group, so do check that out as well.
Tradition in Pureland Buddhism The last time I wrote to you I said a few words about honesty. Today I want share some lines about something else that we value here at the temple: tradition. I’ve posted about it on Friends of Amida. Click here to read.
Bodhi Day From Wed 4th til Sun 8th we’ll be celebrating the Buddha’s awakening. There will be talks from our teachers, including Dharmavidya, discussions, practice sessions, ceremonies and a twenty four hour chanting session. Drop us a line for more information.
In today’s newsletter: I write about one the values of Amida Mandala, honesty; a video of Satya’s talk ‘Nothing to Lose‘; and an invitation to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the temple.
Honesty A few newsletters ago Satya wrote about ‘what we value’ and ‘what we offer’. You can see the list on the front page of the temple website. Today I want to say something about honesty.
What kind of honesty do we value? Self-honesty.
Recognising the deep currents of thought, feeling and habit that run through us helps us to stay grounded, and helps us to have compassion for other beings as we recognise that we are all in the same boat. Beginning to understand our own foolishness allows us to treat the foolishness of others more kindly.
Being honest with ourselves can bring us closer to the light of the Buddha. The Buddha’s light is loving and sees us just as we are. To the extent that we are afraid to see ourselves as we really are, we shy away from the light of the Buddha.
There is a circular process at work here. Faith in the loving presence of the Buddha allows us to feel less afraid of ourselves and to see our harmful habits more clearly, and seeing ourselves more clearly brings us closer to the Buddha.
As we come close to the Buddha we are more likely to experience the ease that the Buddha’s light brings.
Nothing to Lose You can watch Satya’s talk ‘Nothing to Lose’ on YouTube. This is part of our monthly series of Saturday morning talks. We’re taking a break from these for the summer, so the next one will be in October.
It’s nearly been five years! We’re celebrating our fifth anniversary on Saturday November 30th. The invitation is open to anyone who has attended any temple event, even once. Put the date in your diary now 🙂 There’ll be a performance from the temple choir, a bring and share lunch, a mindful walk in the afternoon, and the chance to celebrate. More details on Facebook.
Last week Kaspa & I had our quarterly temple meeting in our local park. We sat under a tree and talked about what’s really important to us in our Dharma work, and what we think this particular temple does best. We brainstormed huge lists of desirable qualities and the things we offer, and chose those we felt a heart connection with.
So here’s who we are:
We value honesty, tradition, community, integrity, a sense of humour and kindness.
We offer a warm welcome, refuge, learning and growth, devotional practice, inspiration, and the spirit of being accepted ‘just as you are’.
One of our reasons for doing this was to be clearer with ourselves about who we ARE, and who we AREN’T. There’s no point in attracting lots of people to the temple with self-help techniques or promises of a secular practice or philosophy, as that’s just not what we offer here. If devotional practice just isn’t your thing, that’s fine – it’s better that we release you to go and find somewhere that suits you better – we’re happy for you to unsubscribe 🙂
If these lists resonate with you, then hurray! If you’re local, come to a regular service or one of ourevents. Watch Kaspa’s recent brilliant Dharma talk ‘Eat Sleep Pray Repeat‘(he’s my husband and I’m biased, but it is a good one). Join my new mailing list for the Anjali Amida sangha, a group especially for those who’d like to join us at online events (Facebook, Skype etc), by replying to this email with ‘anjali’. Reply to this email and say hello, ask a question or let us know how you are.
We love what we do, and it makes us happy when people join us. We’ve received something very precious and we want to pass it on. Namo Amida Bu.
Talking of trees, Kaspa organised Buddhist Action Month this month and if you’d like to plant a tree for £6 as a way of off-setting carbon, the details are all below or just click here.
Sending blessings from here, Satya (& Kaspa) <3
Our colleague Amitasuri says: “Buddhist Action Month is a time for taking your practice off the cushion and into the world. It’s a time for reflecting on the form our compassion takes, for celebrating what we are already doing and for asking ourselves to do more. The theme for 2019 is Climate Action – Personal Action.
As well as our efforts to reduce carbon emissions (draw down), it is important that we find ways to offset carbon emissions we’ve already made (by flying, driving, using fuel at home or at work etc).
Trees for Life have set us up a Grove in the Scottish Highlands, to which we can contribute, for Buddhist Action Month 2019. It is £6 per tree, and it takes around 4 trees to offset 1 tonne of carbon.
Eg. if you have caused 2 tonnes of carbon emissions through fuel you’ve used at home, you would need to plant (at least 4 trees per tonne =) 8 trees. 8 trees at £6 = £48
Please bear in mind that planting trees is no substitute for cutting down our carbon emissions in the first place.
Tree planting is a valuable practice to remove carbon from the atmosphere that is already up there. It’s also good for sucking out carbon that we just can’t avoid emitting for some reason. Remember though, that the world needs to draw more down than we put up!
We’re a few days into 2019 now, and while I’m still officially off work – or not seeing clients, at least – I wanted to let you know about January events in the temple. These include the first of our new monthly talks next weekend. This time Satya is talking about Connecting with Joy.
If you want to hear about events through your email. Sign up to our newsletter, and make sure you tick to receive the ‘local’ newsletter as well as the general one. You can sign up here.
Sat 12th 10.30am til 11.30am Connecting with Joy: Dharma talk by Satya. Suitable for beginners or experienced practitioners, with time for discussion, questions and nembutsu. A good place to start if you are new to the temple. Facebook event here.
Sat 12th 5pm til 6pm Online Nembutsu Circle – a Pureland Buddhist reading followed by an opportunity to share, and some nembutsu chanting at the end. Use Skype to join – search on Skype for Amida Shu or email@example.com, or message Satya with any questions.
Sat 19th 9am til 10am Buddhist service for First Timers. Our usual Saturday morning service, tweaked to make it easier to follow for those who’ve never been before and those who haven’t been for a while. Facebook event here.
Sat 19th 10.30am til 11.30am Taking Care of the Temple. A chance to offer something back to the temple and the community with some cleaning, gardening, or whatever the temple needs. We’ll find you a job you feel comfortable with. A good way to connect with the community.
Tues 22nd 7.30pm til 8pm Online Nembutsu Practice – a chance to hear a Dharma talk and practise alongside your host. Held via Facebook Live at the Amida Mandala group page.
Sat 26th 10.30am – 12 midday Malvern Temple Community Choir. Our lovely drop-in Buddhist choir, singing rounds and Indian-influenced music, open to all abilities. Led by choirmaster Andrew Cheffings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit the site.And of course, our weekly schedule continues as normal, and although we do hold special first-timers or beginners events sometimes. You are welcome to come along to anything, first time or not.
Last Saturday I gave a talk called The Transformative Power of Compassion. I’d been reading about the five spiritual laws, a presentation of the five niyamas, and ended up using that model of the universe as context for talking about compassion and other Buddhist virtues. It might sound complicated, but I really like the model and find it helpful in my spiritual practice. I made a little handout for the talk, which I’ve copied below. Do listen to the talk though, the handout might not make much sense otherwise 🙂
After the talk we had a wonderful discussion on topics such as the fetters, and if it’s really possible to help someone. You can listen to both below.
In Buddhism compassion is most closely associated with Karuna which is the wish for the well-being of others. Karuna is one of the four divine abidings or four immeasurables, therefore it is outside of normal human calculation and unlimited (divine and immeasurable) .
Acting on Karuna, for the sake of others, has lots of benefits.
The giver and the recipient both receive something spiritual, as well as whatever material support is offered.
There is a reduction of selfishness, or when we find that we are unable to act on karuna, we are shown our selfishness, which is an opportunity for fellow-feeling and tenderness to arise, particularly when we realise that despite our failure we are still in receipt of the Buddha’s wish for our happiness, and nyorai’s blessing.
Kaspalita talks about how we stop going around in circles and move to the edge of possibility, using as examples the Buddha’s life, and the stories of Kisagotami and Patacara two disciples of the Buddha who both suffered great losses.
There was a really lovely atmosphere at our Saturday night Dharma talk. Lots of laughter and good feeling, and lots of chatting after the talk, which is always a good sign. Kaspa talked about what we have faith in, or wake up to. Inspired by the Lotus Sutra, Kaspa hinted at the qualities of fundamental reality, or the saving grace of Buddhas, and the deep significance of entering into relationship with that.