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Talks and events in January

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year!

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.

January events

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, 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 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.



Namo Amida Bu

Listen now: Compassion and the Five Spiritual Laws

Amitabha ThangkaLast 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.


Compassion and the Five Spiritual Laws

The five spiritual laws are an interpretation of the five niyamas, passed down to Dharmavidya by Kennett Roshi.

UTU NIYAMA: (non-living matter) The universe is not answerable to my personal will

BIJA NIYAMA: (living matter) Dependent origination

KAMMA NIYAMA: Karma is inexorable

DHAMMA NIYAMA:  Good ultimately prevails

CITTA NIYAMA: (Heart/Mind) Longing springs eternal


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.


Listen to other teachings from Amida Mandala here: Audio Teachings

Living on The Edge

Kaspalita 1From our Saturday Night Dharma series.

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.

P.S. You can find the paper by Dharmavidya that I mention in the talk here: The Distinctive Character of Buddhist Psychology

Listen/download mp3


Or stream the audio from YouTube:

It Will Be Good

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.

It Will Be Good Rev Kaspalita Listen/download mp3

Or stream (Audio only) from youtube now:

Dwelling in faith

Just as you areThe temple’s word for the year is faith.

Reflecting on life at the temple recently I had the sense that our community members, residents and otherwise, are all deepening their relationship with their own personal koan. I use koan here in the sense of the koan that arises in daily life, rather than the universal cases that are studied in Rinzai.

A more Pureland way of saying this might be something like, ‘People are deepening their relationship both with their bonbu nature and with the Buddha.’

We all have our own bonbu nature. Greed, hate and delusion are universal, but they manifest in each of us in unique ways. Getting to know our own personal bonbu nature has two benefits, the first is that we might be able to do something to smooth off the rough edges. This might be being more mindful, or putting ourselves in better conditions. The second is more profound: we are shown how deeply intractable our karma is, how heavily conditioned we are, and how we are loved by the Buddha in this foolish state. Any changes we manage to make are held in this greater context of a deep appreciation of our foolishness, and more often than not, when we try to change, we fail, and this brings us back to this second realisation again.

It is faith in Amida which allows this process to begin, and to begin to see our foolish nature clearly, and the more clearly we see our foolish nature, and see that we are loved anyway, the more faith we are given.

As we encounter ourselves and the Buddha in this way, a tender heart appears.

This tender heart might feel deep sadness at the things we do to each other and our world, but it also feels kindness as we recognise that we are all in the same boat, and all loved just as we are.

If we do change for the better in this lifetime, it is because of the dharmic gifts we have received from our friends, teachers, and from the Buddhas. When we examine ourselves in this spirit, rather than reaching for the next stage in self-improvement, we can feel gratitude for what we have already received, and make an offering of what we already are and have to the Buddhas.

When others encounter our community as we each engage in our practice in this way, they are entering into a Pure Land. Pure Land is a translation of a word which literally means ‘Buddha-field’: when we dwell in faith, the Buddha appears, not just for us, but for those around us too.

It is not a perfect Pure Land, like Amida’s, sometimes the lower realms do manifest here, but there is a very real opportunity for people joining our community to encounter the Buddha.

The more we engage with our koans, and the more deeply we dwell in faith, the more clearly this Pureland appears in our midst.

Happy Bodhi Day

sb10065458e-001Today we remember the Buddha’s enlightenment underneath the Bodhi tree: as the morning star rose, he realised perfect dharma. With one hand he reached down and touched the Earth, a gesture I take to be of gratitude, of recognition of support, of dependence.

He set out to look deeply into suffering, and to find an end to suffering. He was inspired both by the suffering he found in the world, and also by the grace he had seen and experienced, that grace that was embodied by the sadhu who was ‘the fourth sight’, and by his own experiences in meditation.

On the night of his enlightenment, the arrows which Mara sent to the Buddha, transformed into flowers: hate became love. The Buddha awoke and embodied loving kindness, compassion, insight, energy and steadiness in the face of life’s troubles. He saw what usually provokes anger, or hate, or greed, and felt love instead.

He fell into the noble life, and suffering fell away.

Most Buddhists aspire to walk the noble path in the way the Buddha walked it: to learn to embody what he embodied, and for their own suffering to fall away.

As Pureland Buddhists our emphasis is in seeing that we are received by this vision. That if we had come into the company of Shakyamuni Buddha, he would have loved us in the way he loved the world. And that the spirit of all the Buddhas, manifesting as Amida Buddha, sees us and loves us in that way today.

We are of samsara, and we are received by the vision of the Buddha, and carried into nirvana.

Namo Amida Bu

Inspired by faith

the chanting team

the chanting team

We’ve just had a wonderful Bodhi gathering here at Amida Mandala. Many traditions have a practice period leading up to the 8th Decemeber, when we celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment. Here, we had a three day retreat at the weekend, including a six hour nembutu chant, teachings, poetry and art workshops and sharing good food and company.

We’ll upload a longer post with some more detail soon, but I wanted to share with you the talk from Friday morning, in which Kaspa set out the theme of inspired by faith.

Listen/download mp3

Namo Amida Bu

Two brand new short talks

mandalaIn the first talk, Satya talks about how our relationship with the material world is transformed  through faith, and in the second, Kaspa picks up on some of the themes from his longer talk Buddhism Inside Out and talks about the relationship between our faith, and what we do, moment to moment. You can download the mp3 files below, or stream them from our YouTube channel

  • 28/9/16 – Satya – The Secular becomes Sacred
  • 16/10/16 – Kaspa- Faith and Action