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Happy 2016!

As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded us via Twitter, the 1st of January is an arbitrary date to celebrate the New Year, and has no astronomical significance. However rituals are powerful ways of marking time, and, as we pass from 2015 into 2016, it’s inevitable that we’ll reflect on the past and on the future.

Buddhist psychology suggests that we are re-creating ourselves over and over again, and mostly we recreate ourselves in the same old way. We do have some influence over this process, however, and the rituals and communal sense of renewal surrounding the New Year celebrations is a great time to think about what self we created in the past year, and what we might like to change in the next.

This time last year we chose the word kalyana mitra to guide us, and the temple, through 2015. Kalyana mitra means something like spiritual friend, and 2015 was a year of deepening relationships and learning how to embody the dharma in our friendships.

For 2016 we’ve chosen the word generosity to guide us. In Buddhism generosity is seen as the antidote to selfishness, and as a virtue in its own right. Just as Amida is generous with his love, I hope we can be generous with the love that appears in the temple, with our time and in our friendships.

We can use particular precepts or virtues like this to guide us in our daily life. We can ask ourselves, ‘Am I being generous in this interaction?’ for example, and be interested in when we feel resistance to embodying that virtue or precept, or when we fail to keep it.

When we feel the love of the Buddha we will tend to keep the precepts more easily, and without thinking about them. But we are not beings of complete faith, and working with a precept or principle in this way can highlight our own particular bonbu nature.

When we find ourselves naturally being generous, or keeping the precepts, we should give thanks to the Buddha for his teaching, and his spirit, which inspires and motivates us. When we fail in being generous, or in our precepts, we should also take this as an opportunity to go to the Buddha. If we feel loved, even in our bonbu state, we can accept our failings with grace, and move forward.

We hope to see you soon, at one of our regular weekly events, or one of our special events (see below).

With love,

Kaspa & Satya,

Coming Temple Events
Sat 16th Jan 10am – 5pm Retreat Day – New Beginnings – a mixture of Dharma talks, practice and discussion. (FB invite) Suggested donation £45 including lunch. Booking essential – satya@satyarobyn.com.
Sat 6th Feb 11am – 4pm Volunteer day 
Sat 6th Feb 7.30pm – 8.30pm Saturday Night Dharma: How to love – talk followed by time for Qs and a cuppa. (FB invite)

Coming other events
Kaspa’s Mindfulness Classes  from Tues 12th or Thurs 14th Jan. More details here:Mindfully whole.

Absolute Love —Total Freedom

Amida Mandala BuddhaKaspa writes: I became a Pureland Buddhist in 2006. I didn’t know anything about Pureland Buddhism at the time. I had been practicing Buddhism for a few years, and then I met Dharmavidya and the Amida community. I knew that I wanted to join this community and have Dharmavidya as my teacher. That was enough.

I learnt about bonbu nature: we are foolish beings of wayward passion; full of greed, hate and delusion. I learnt that Amida Buddha, the Buddha of wisdom and acceptance, loves us just as we are.

I saw the shadow of those teachings. What in medieval Japan was called licensed evil: if we are loved just as we are, if we are going to be reborn in Amida’s Pure Land regardless of our karma, why bother to do good at all?

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Dharma talk on Fear & Selfishness by Kaspalta

10885585_1000195926662043_4850299597953325150_nLast Saturday evening, as part of our regular monthly dharma talks, Kaspalita gave a talk entitled Freedom From Fear. As he says in the beginning of the talk it’s really about freedom from the selfish effects of fear, which take us away from liberation.

The talks is about an hour long, including a few questions. There were some really good questions after the tape stopped recording as well, sorry we didn’t manage to catch those.

You can download the talk or listen online here: Freedom From Fear (mp3)

Listen to the rest of our recorded talks.

New talks online including ‘Taking Refuge’

406px-Amitabha_Buddha_Sukhavati_Dunhuang_Mogao_CavesLast Saturday Satya gave a beautiful talk on taking refuge. You can listen to the recording online here taking refuge (mp3) or right click and choose save as to download.

 

I’ve also uploaded two talks from our recent retreat day ‘Becoming Friends with Yourself’:

New Dharma talk: Freedom by Acharya Modgala

Last Saturday evening Acharya Modgala delivered a lovely talk on Freedom. The talk was about facing your fears and Acharya Modgala used examples from her own life, including reading an extract from her up coming book. The recording of the talk includes a question and answer session at the end.

 

You can listen to the talk online here: Freedom (mp3). View the rest of our audio talks from the temple here: audio teachings.

Listen to Kindness is the Key by Kaspalita

On Saturday evening we had the first in our Saturday Night Dharma events. This was a talk by Kaspalita called Kindness is the Key. He spoke about the value of kindness, how it arises, some foolish ways of being kind and how we can create conditions for kindness to arise.

You can listen to the talk, or download it using the link below.

Kindness is Key (mp3)

You can see the whole collection of audio talks that we have available here: audio teachings.

The next Saturday Night Dharma event is 5th September at 7:30pm and we’re delighted to announce that talk will be delivered by Acharya Modgala.

Open day at the Temple

The small veg plot at the top of the garden

Today we had an open day at the Amida Mandala Temple. It was raining hard this morning, and although the weather eased off a little there have been grey skies all day.

This grey weather was brightened up by the laughter and smiles and good conversation of the people coming through the doors.

There was a slow but steady trickle of people throughout the day. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t talking to someone (although I was able to slip away for lunch).

Some old friends who hadn’t seen our space before dropped by, as well as some people we hadn’t met before. A few of them are interested in coming to a service, others just wanted to see what we are about.

This morning, while we were holding our open day, a few people from Malvern went up to visit Sanghamitra’s group in Birmingham, who were also meeting today.

They had a Pureland service and Dharma discussion, and it sounds like it went very well.

A lot of what people receive here is in the atmosphere, in the connections with each other and the kindly way people relate to each other (most of the time.) It was our community meal yesterday evening, we had a few gusts, people who have been volunteering for us, and the time flew by. These spaces outside the ritual of the dharma hall are just as important as the more formal time. It is where the love is expressed spontaneously.

It was very nice to know that Amida in the UK could host two events on the same day, within an hour’s drive of each other, and have them both be a success.

Amida Buddha with our youngest visitor, today.

Tomorrow we have another garden volunteer day. There’s a little more tidying of trees to do and plenty of weeding and getting beds ready for plants to go in.

Work carries on in between volunteer days too: Jnanamati has been clearing the ivy from the coach house while he’s been stopping with us and it looks great, and Angie and Clare came over on Wednesday and pulled up armfuls of weeds, while Ron was putting our decking together.

The work days are not just another informal space for people to connect in they also provide opportunity for spiritual training. We learn to work with each other in a smooth (or smoothish) way, to notice what our compulsive patterns are (do we push ourselves to hard when we are less trusting, or retreat?), and to learn to give and take instructions.

Namo Amida Bu

Meditation Hut Project

We’d love to have a meditation hut in the corner of the garden. This will be a haven within a haven, a place to enjoy solitude in the midst of busy temple life, and a place for gusts and visitors to come and practice as well.

We need your help to raise funds for the hut and we’d like you to come and enjoy the space when it’s ready. Click here to find out more: Mediation Hut Project or on the button below to make a donation.