Dharmavidya and Prasada depart Thursday 31 May to attend meetings in Hungary concerned with the future of Buddhist education in Europe and then to go on the the Buddhist Christian Studies Meeting in Austria.
This Sunday, 27th May, the Amida trustees meet. On the agenda will be recent developments including the start of Amida-kai and the Amida Research Institute, the Trust's financial situation and budgat for the coming year, and plans for projects in UK and around the world.
Today, 16th May, a mailing went out to all members of Amida Trust with full details of the new developments including the creation of Amida-kai and the Amida Research Institute and inviting participation. Anyone wanting to receive this information should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Amida Trust general membership is to be reconfigured as membership of an association to be called Amida-kai. When Amida Trust was formed in 1996 it was not initially envisaged as a membership organisation. However, as soon as it was in existence, people were asking to join and there was no reason to refuse, so a category of geneal membership whereby individuals joined the Trust on payment of a subscription came into being. In 1998, the first steps were taken in creating a structure of religious commitment within the Trust. This led to the ratification of the Amida Order in 2002 and the emergence of Amida-shu in 2006. This successful growth of the religious sangha has established Amida Pureland Buddhism and gven the Amid Trust a stable and committed core community. However, it also pushed "general membership" into a relatively more peripheral position In May 2007, therefore, a restructuring took place. Amida-kai has been established alongside Amida-shu to restore balance to the organisation as a whole and to provide a platform for those Trust members who are not currently following Amida Pureland Buddhism as their practice or primary affiliation, as well as for those who are.
Membership of Amida Trust is now by membership of either Amida-shu or Amida-kai
Membership of Amida-kai is by subscription - see application form
Membership of Amida-shu is by invitation
An individual can belong to both the Shu and the Kai
The Kai will primarily focus upon non-liturgical activities - classes, seminars, meetings, workshops, interest groups, campaigns, social and cultural activities, and the support of Amida Trust projects
Involvement in Amida Trust projects will be open to Shu and Kai members alike.
This week saw the welcome return of Dharmavidya from Japan, he arrived
late Monday evening, just after a lively Sutra Study in which we have
been studying some collected writings of Honen. All are welcome to the
Study class, Monday at 7.30 at The Buddhist House. It's been wonderful
to hear about Dharmavidya's trip, and on Wednesday evening we were
treated to a slide show of photographs from the visit - all good
community building stuff.
The Thursday evening meditation, chanting and relaxation class
continues, and seems to be growing, with another two new members from
the local community coming to join us this week. The daily life of
running a temple continues, preparing rooms and meals for guests, and
making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Although the work
might at first seem mundane and chore like, when done in a spirit of
faith, and love the sacred is revealed even in this.
Yesterday we heard that one of our order members, Joy Marston had
suffered from a minor stroke. Susthama will be retuning from France
shortly and travelling directly to Joy's in order to provide support.
Also Rev. Sujatin from the Newcastle sangha recently broke a foot, we
wish them both quick recoveries, and send much love.
The London Sangha is preparing for an Introduction to Pureland Buddhism
course which take place at Sukhavati, will be open to the public and
will take place on four consecutive Wednesday evenings starting 30 May
07 at 1830. In addition we are continuing with the garden work, with
the next stage being to take away the rubbish generated during the
clearing work and tidying the front garden too. We are continuing to
meet on Wednesday evenings for Pureland practice, and we were delighted
to have welcomed Sundari and Bhaktika from Sheffield as guests recently!
We are happy here that Sue's shoulder operation has gone well. Only a
week after the operation we managed to have a study group, listening to
Dharmavidya's talk on Ananda, a Pureland ancestor. We recently decided
not to try to fit study into our regular Monday evening practice but to
hold study groups on Saturday mornings at intervals, giving us time to
digest and reflect. It was a good start, and a more relaxed and useful
way to study. Our thinking also is that keeps the Monday evening
welcoming and relaxed, rather than trying to cram too much in. It also
keeps it more accessible. Having had recent attendance by people with
limited English language we realised the importance of this, and the
pleasure of having more time to savour our commonalities and
differences around the dinner table. This has also given us the chance
to have some time specifically for School members, to talk over any
issues or plans.
At City of Sanctuary we have now appointed a development worker, which
is very satisfying, and will put City of Sanctuary on a firm footing to
continue its work of developing a climate of welcome in Sheffield for
asylum seekers and refugees. Bhaktika as Buddhist rep on the Faiths
Forum joined in a statement from the city's faith leaders encouraging a
high turnout in the local election today to give a real voice and to
show that fascism and racism are not supported in the city (a party
many of whose candidates are known for racist statements is fielding an
unprecedented eight candidates). It may well be the first time in
Sheffield that Buddhists have appeared on the political scene at this
level. Ray and Sundari have been accepted as members of the Centre for
Radical Christianity, and the priest in charge of its church base is
interested in meeting us.
The household at 118 has been augmented for the last few weeks by our
friend Sudir who returned from India and is living with Bhatika and
Sundari for a couple of months. We are much appreciating good mealtime
conversation and good cooking!
March 22nd Interfaith seems to be in the air here at the moment. There was an event at Sheffield University just up the road from us last Tuesday, which we didn't manage to get to (notification came from many people - thank you!), but the following day was the official launch of the Sheffield Faiths Forum at the Town Hall - a wonderful evening of networking and of speeches.
The purpose of the forum was introduced - this is basically working together. There are other groups and fora for Inter Faith dialogue on a range of matters but this is about engaging with policy and action in the city on matters of concern to all, so there is a focus on social issues.
Each forum member read a short piece of scripture from their tradition - Bhaktika is the Buddhist rep and read the Metta Sutta as something that would be familiar and have meaning for all the Buddhist groups - three other Buddhist groups were represented as well as ourselves from Amida - a good showing. As a side note a number of Sheffield Buddhists are showing interest in coming together.
Bishop Jack of the Anglican Cathedral gave a rousing and inspiring short speech which moved all us Amida people and probably most people there - raising our common interest in being a force for change in social conditions that sorely need it. The Trident vote was taking place at that time, so all the MPs were of necessity absent. We thought of them and what the vote means to us all.
The time for networking was enjoyable and well spent. It was moving and exciting to meet faces from various parts of our lives and pasts and to find us united in this new wave in Sheffield. And to know that we shall relate differently in future and be working together in ways that we are just beginning to discover. No doubt future This Weeks from Sheffield will relate how these connections grow and blossom.
On the same theme, of growth and interfaith connection and relationships: two of the Amida School in Sheffield have joined the Centre for Radical Christianity - which turns out to be on our doorstep! On our weekly practice evenings we have been joined by a Taiwanese couple whom Bhaktika and Sundari met at the Conversation Club - who turned out to be one Pureland and one Zen practitioner! How amazingly suitable for our Pureland group with its regular Zen attender! For the spring equinox we chanted the Heart Sutra and the Life of No Regret, and brought the paramitas into our nei quan practice.
Bhaktika and Sundari have been engaged in the second of the groups on conflict which we have initiated with process work colleagues. It's exciting to be out in public putting some of our skills into practice and it was wonderful to meet a member of the group at the Faiths Forum evening.
The other good news is that City of Sanctuary has obtained funds from the Allen Lane Foundation for a Development Worker - the most that they ever award to any group. Sundari is involved in the appointment process. The movement continues to develop exciting initiatives and this solid base for growth is really encouraging. (see www.cityofsanctuary.com <http://www.cityofsanctuary.com>)
April 12th We have just had the third of our action learning groups on working with conflict - and the team work is growing well. Sundari and Bhaktika are working with three other students of process work and we are learning a lot. Sundari has just returned from a socio-legal conference in Canterbury, where she took part in some interesting discussions and gave a paper on the need for new principles in immigration law. Sue's shoulder operation was postponed for the second time, so she continues in pain. The silver lining in this cloud was that all four Sheffield Amida School members managed to travel to Narborough on Easter Saturday for the day. The first time we have made it there together. It was lovely to dip into the community life there even for a short time. Just before all this we had two short visits from Prasada - it was good to have her here dipping into our lives for a short while, and she was able to join in our Friday morning meditation and visit the Monday lunchtime meditation in the cathedral as well.
The weather has been lovely and warm, breathing new life back into the trees, shrubs and flowers. The blossoms on the cherry trees, blackthorn and plum trees are full and glorious. Work in the garden has started, seeds have been sown, onion sets are in and the first shoots started to appear two days ago.
Leo and Modgala are now joined by Susthama who has been here since Easter. Leo is away in The Netherlands until Monday and Modgala who has been ill is slowly regaining her strength. She is due to go in to hospital on the 19th to see whether she will need an operation. We will keep you updated on her progress. Leo has been doing a great job overall, tending to things, taking care of Modgala and making wonderful meals out of a limited list of ingredients for her and Susthama has been giving her reflexology and acupressure. The tranquil surroundings, the splendid weather, and glorious beauty has enabled us to appreciate nature, enjoy each others company and gain a sense of something much greater at work. Here's a little poem by Susthama:
Give my love to you
to the walnut and oak trees and blachthorn trees with all its pretty flowers to the daisies, the cowslips, and violets the blue bells and the celandines
I give my love to the cherry trees and to the strawberries plants
and to the dandelions, nettles and all the green grass
to the soil and the stones and all the while you give your love to me
Namo Amida Bu Susthama
UPDATE - Since writing this Modgala has been into hospital and received good news, she doesn't need to have an operation is is now on the road to recovery, we wish her all the best.
THE BUDDHIST HOUSE.
We've all been under observation this week at the Buddhist House, Samuel, a Religious Studies student from Bath Spa University, came to experience life in a religious community - so we've all been on our best behaviour. The week began with a trip to the Maitri project in Leicester http://amidatrust.typepad.com/maitri our multifaith drop in, and part of our social engagement closer to home. During the work periods, we spent plenty of time enjoying the sunshine in the garden, and Mudita has planted, and sprouted several seeds. Colin from the Newcastle group has joined us for a few days, and we hope to use his expertise in the garden to make even more progress this week.
Both interfaith, and intrafaith are in the air here - on Friday, Gareth Sudhana and Samuel visited the Sri Lankan Vihara - here in Leicestershire, and had wonderful Dharma conversation with Ven. Amita. In other intrafaith news, Dharmavidya is currently in away from the house presenting papers at the Jodo-Shu Research Institute: http://www.jsri.jp/index-e.htm and spending time with our friends in Japan.
On the interfaith front, Prasada has been invited to speak at Reading Interfaith group at the end of May, on Pureland and it's realtionship to other faiths. This is part of a longer visit to Reading, more details to follow.
After a rather frustrating 5 weeks being stationary in Durban.....We experienced the most violent weather at night, we had 3 massive storms come over with fork lightening and thunder claps all around, we all felt a little vulnerable in the temporary shed they have placed there, but very exhilirating !!!! Especially when the lightening hits the ground about 10 yards away!!! I just love it there, James and I both said we could live there, if it wasn't so far from home and all of you.... and it helped us make a decision that we have been rather putting off for some time, in the hope that James' back injury will improve enough to allow him to work in Zambia. After much thought, talk and careful consideration, we have decided that James will come home (on monday) and I will move onto Zambia without him, and live up to our committment to those who are expecting us in Zambia. I was fine with this decision, but woke up with a panic of what am I doing? Yes, I am nervous about going on my own, and I will miss James muchly, but I am also very excited to be able to go and offer my help where needed, and set up some sustainability projects with the money we raised....I will see what the people want though, as its down to them and not me at all. No way am I going in there, saying the West knows Best. Cause that just ain't always true!!!
Its only for 6 weeks, and that will go so quick.....I will be very busy......and it will be important for me to go, and important for those in Zambia to have some help. So, with a deep breath, and a smile, I go on my way to beyond.......Zambia here I come......(and at the expense of the travel insurance company, who are paying for me to get there as I postponed my trip to help James....wow...travel insurance.com...that is who you want...they have been soooo helpful and good, hard to believe that an insurance company like that existed, but they do, hurrah!!!!
Anyway, I sign off now, as I need to go get my lift...Durban is so car orientated....have to rely on lift.... Please, it would be great to hear from you, when I am in Zambia. Without James there with me, I gonna need all the support I can get, so emails, jokes, pictures, whatever contact from you would really be wonderful.....
Love you all very much. See you in May.... Clare xxxxxx