Five years!

On this date five years ago…

At nine o clock in the morning Satya and I were waiting in our house surrounded by cardboard boxes packed with all of our things.  At midday we received the keys to the temple.  Over the next few days lots of volunteers helped us to clean and sort things out and a week after moving in we hosted a retreat.

On that day I could hardly imagine five years into the future. It seemed like such a long way off. And yet I still had a vision of what we were aiming for: I pictured a shrine room full of people, joining their voices in chanting and sitting quietly in meditation a few times a week. I imagined those people coming together in shared celebrations and fellowship and I wondered what sort of leader I would be.

Five years later — does that imagined future match the reality?

The number of people coming to our events has remained pretty steady over the past five years, and maybe it’s even a few less than it was this time last year. And yet, that is far from the whole story.

This time last year or the year before Satya and I sent out a little survey, and one of the surprising results was that there wasn’t any correlation between how often people came to the temple, and how connected they felt to us.

Those connections have grown over the past five years, both in number and in quality. We are in a web of people inspired by Pure Land Buddhist teachings and that web is shining brightly.

Recently I wrote a paragraph about my activities for the Amida Trust annual report. Aside from the temple there was a long list of unexpected events, talks and projects. Satya has a similar list and I know others do as well, from the school visits that Dayamay organises and leads to the connections Khema makes with friends in other Buddhist communities. The Pureland dharma is alive in all of these places.

Personally my faith has deepened over the past five years, as I have come to know myself more deeply and seen the light of Amida shining into my darkest corners.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of the past five years is how little control I have had over these outcomes, mostly it has involved saying yes to the good invitations that have come along, and saying lots of nembutsu.

This moment in time is not the end of the journey, and five years ago was not the beginning. They are both just moments in a conversation that has been happening for generations: teachers transmitting the dharma to disciples, the Buddha transmitting the dharma to disciples, the world singing with the dharma to those with the ears to listen.

So thanks to all of those that have gone before us and made this particular flowering possible, and thanks to all of those who join us and support in our current adventure, from Padma and the trustees, to our teacher Dharmavidya, to our temple-mates and the volunteers who lend their time and energy at the temple, and to those who do come and join their nembutsu with ours, whether near or far.

Deep bow, and here’s to the next five years.