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Awakening the Body

Annie Parry's photo.Guest teacher at Amida Mandala Malvern 2015
An Invitation from Annie – Awakening the Body ….

COME AND JOIN ME ….
SOFTEN YOUR HEART
FEEL IT OPEN
SENSE YOUR ROOTEDNESS
STAND LIKE A TREE
WAVE HANDS LIKE CLOUDS
ABSORB THE GOLDEN SUN
STAND LIKE A MOUNTAIN
SPLASH IN WATERFALLS
CREATE SPIRALS IN THE AIR
DRAW DOWN THE STARLIGHT
LEAN INTO THE MOON

No experience needed…. all welcome.

Two introductory taster sessions, with a short time for questions.
TUES Oct 6th and TUES Oct 13th.
Time:11.30-12.30
Venue:
Amida Mandala Buddhist Group, 34 Worcester Rd, Malvern WR14 4AA

Forward Plan: NB Oct 20th no session Half term week.

Begin weekly: Oct 27th, Nov 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th.
Low cost- £5 per session. (Or what you can offer).

Annie Parry, MA ADMP annie.present@talktalk.net
Any questions, have a chat on 07985 783425 or 01905 772137

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.

Safe spaces

Circle of love by Andy WooLast night I sat across from two people I’m close to and lied to them.

Every Sunday evening we sit in a Sharing Circle and pass a stone, taking turns to speak and be listened to. These kinds of spaces are incredibly rare.

What usually happens in this circle is a kind of magic. The words we speak (whatever they are) take on a preciousness as the others all listen quietly. The words of others become tender and wise. The space between us fills up with empathy – we can really begin to understand what it’s like for others at the circle to live their lives. (Much like it is for us to live ours.)

I usually come away from the circle feeling warm & fuzzy. Last night I came away feeling resentful and tired.

My lies were lies of omission. When I had the stone I talked lightly about my week and what I was doing tomorrow.

What I should have said was:
I really didn’t want to come along to the Sharing Circle tonight. I’m tired of people. I’m grumpy. I don’t want to listen to anyone. Now leave me alone.

I don’t know for sure what might have happened next if I’d started with that. I might have felt more angry. I might have cried. I might have realised what the grumpiness was about. But I think it would have brought me ultimately closer to the people I was sitting with, rather than distancing me.

“Our society is so fragmented, our family lives so sundered by physical and emotional distance, our friendships so sporadic, our intimacies so ‘in-between’ things and often so utilitarian, that there are few places where we can feel truly safe.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Safe spaces are scarce for most of us. Even when we find them, it’s not easy to make use of them. It’s not always appropriate to share what’s in our heart, and often we are too afraid to show others what’s really going on. I didn’t share more honestly because I was scared – of being rejected, of hurting others. That’s okay – that’s how it was last night.

But if you can look again and find somewhere, as I have with this piece of writing this morning, you will find the magic. I can feel it now. The magic is love.

Where are your safe spaces? How can you make more of them?

*

‘Circle of Love’ by Andy Woo, with thanks.

Our first volunteering day

volunteering at Amida MandalaOur first volunteering day at the temple. Kaspa & I got up early to get things ready – cleaning materials, hedge clippers, ingredients to make lunch for lots of people, a long list of things to do.

We had let people know that we were starting at 10am. We sat nervously in the dining room at 9.45am. 9.50am. Nobody arrived. 9.55am. 10am. 10.10am. Still just the two of us.

I felt a great heaviness. I just knew it. We were going to have to carry the temple & grounds on our own. It was too much.

For a few minutes we wondered what was the best thing to do. After asking the Buddhas, we both reported back with the same answer. Just get on with it.

Kaspa got the hedge clippers out. I started printing leaflets. The heaviness left me. By the time I started dusting the kitchen ceiling I was feeling cheerful.

At 11.30am James popped his head round the door and said that he was free today after all. He picked up the hedge clippers. David arrived with his son Nathan. Jnanamati arrived. Izzy, Mike, Steve, Clare, Tina, Emma…

By the end of the day both hedges were trimmed back, a garden wall was rescued from under a great spaghetti of old ivy, all the bathrooms were deep cleaned, the kitchen annexe was totally cleared, we’d made 5 trips to the tip and one to a charity shop, the clock was put up in the library… everything from the list and more. We ate bean stew & Clare’s lovely blueberry muffins and we laughed and laughed.

If we are alone, that is okay. We don’t have to do more than we can do. We can turn on the radio and attack the cobwebs.

But of course we are never really alone. Even if nobody had come yesterday, we are in people’s thoughts and in their hearts.

Our next volunteer day is on the 22nd of February. Join us?

Hurray for sangha. Namo Amida Bu.

Self confidence or shrinking our self?

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Should we be growing our self-confidence or shrinking our self?

This Buddha has his hands in the same position as the Buddha on our main shrine – the vajrapradama mudra, which is typically translated as the ‘Mudra of Unshakable Self Confidence’. I looked it up yesterday after a nine year old on a school visit to the temple asked me what it meant.

Our society encourages us to spend much time ‘building up our self-confidence’ – putting energy into bolstering our self esteem and strengthening our sense of ‘me as okay’.

I’m all for self-compassion. It is important for us to have a realistic view of how competent and capable we are, which means not undervaluing ourselves or seeing ourselves through the warp of old stories. I also think it’s equally important to acknowledge our fallibilities and our foolishness. Mine runs pretty deep.

What really helps me when I’m feeing down on myself or afraid of the world is connecting with some sense of ‘everything-will-be-alright’. Not alright-perfect but alright-sometimes-awful but always-held-in-a-bigger-container.

In one place I found this mudra translated as Mudra of Unshakable Trust. I like this a lot more. It points outside of me, to where the help is.

It points towards not trust in myself but trust in something bigger than me. The Universe, the Buddhas, a Higher Power, God, Humanity. Whatever you want to call it. Faith.

Don’t worry too much about your levels of self-confidence. If you take refuge in something bigger and live your life illuminated by this great light, everything else will come out in the wash.

And if you’re feeling wobbly, maybe try the vajrapradama mudra for a while. You are holding your hands over your heart, yes? Can you feel it yet?

The Dharma of Tea Towels

H is for home by on the lineIn the communal kitchen there is a basket where everyone puts tea towels when they are dirty.

We have a lot of tea towels. And as the first weeks in the temple went on, they seemed to be piling up fast. I did a load of washing, hanging them all out and bringing them back to fold and put in the draw. I did another load. Then I watched the basket pile up again.

Would anyone else do them?

As I passed the pile of dirty tea towels every day, resentment started building.

Eventually I mentioned the huge teetering pile of tea towels in a house meeting. The next day I went to do some of our own washing. Someone had washed the tea towels, and then forgot them and gone off for the weekend. If I wanted to do my own washing, I’d have to hang them all out…

As I hung them out I laughed. It was as if they’d arranged a little lesson for me. You can’t get out of washing these tea towels, you know. And look – now you’re doing it, and it’s not so bad, is it?

I realised that it wasn’t really the tea towels I was resentful about at all. Behind the resentment was fear. One of the things I felt anxious about before we moved in was how it would be to share space with others without ending up feeling responsible for everything that needs doing, all the time. Others won’t notice things-that-need-doing in the way I do. I will have to slave away and everyone else will be sitting around drinking tea and it will be too much for me.

Of course, I carry this story around with me wherever I go. The reality is that there are jobs here that different people to. We’ve occasionally had to remind people to do certain things and this has felt fine. Everything here runs extraordinarily smoothly.

The tea towels showed me where my fear was, and then (with the help of my housemate) they showed me how I could let go and have faith. Whether or not I end up washing all the tea towels, everything will be okay.

Yesterday I passed the tea towel basket. It wasn’t quite full, but I was on my way to my office so I put them in the washing machine on my way past. As I hung them out afterwards I enjoyed the neat rectangles and their fresh smell. As I folded them back into the drawer I enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that others would have clean tea towels to dry their plates.

Wherever there is grit, there is the potential for a new opalescent layer of pearl.

What or who is bothering you at the moment? What might it have come to teach you?