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
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
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
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
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
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
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