*News from Sheffield.*
It seems a while since we wrote from here - not since the floods in fact. The effects here for us in Broomspring Lane are now in the past, though not so for other people in the region as there are still people out of their homes and dealing with loss.
It is nearly three months since Sally moved here, and we are enjoying both the challenges and the 'joys and freedoms' of living as a community of three at 118.
Sue has taken over prime responsibility for the Monday evening meal, which is a really good development all round - and much appreciated by the inhabitants of 118.
We have changed the form of the Monday evening to have the meal first, then the service followed by cup of tea and chat for those that want to stay. This followed some conversations about our accessibility and the form of the evening. We have been joined by a couple of new people, and there is a gentle sense of development and growth.
We had a Saturday study morning open to all which we spent exploring our vision of sangha. What does it mean to live a religious life of truly simple faith as a householder? and together? Why is this a collective practice? What does it mean to take refuge in the sangha?
Our Sheffield vow 22 group has also met twice and had lively conversations.
The sudden death at Findhorn of Andrew Murray, known to a number of people in Sheffield, was a shock to Sundari and Bhaktika. Andrew was the sort of person who made a deep impression on everyone he met. He stayed with us when he came to Sheffield, and we counted him our friend, though we were not as close as many other people. We held a memorial service here for people who knew him, and we were very glad to be able to offer the container of Buddhist practice for a collective expression of grief. It was a very moving occasion. A friend who was very close to Andrew has just been staying with us for a couple of days, and that has been very good too.
A return of the sunshine has meant that we have been able to to much of our morning practice outdoors with our garden Buddha, which has been wonderful. Just sitting with the creatures and all the growing things has been a very sustaining way to start the day. Sally has just cleared round the garden Buddha who was beginning to disappear under foliage.
Sue made a crumble with the first blackberries of the year - and now we have started pcking the ones at the cottage......mmmmmore to come.
News From London
The bitter-sweet nature of our lives has been very strongly felt by us
at London in recent weeks as we have been facing some major life events.
Joan's brother Alex died from CJD at a nursing home in Devon. Joan sends
her love to all the Sangha and says how helped and supported she has
felt by all of us in Amida at this difficult time. Tony got married and
the day turned out just right (after several weeks of naked anxiety -
not to say sheer terror - on behalf of the groom) with Sujatin doing a
really wonderful job of bringing what was a first taste of Buddhism to
Other good things have been going on as well - we've been working together to get lots done for when Dharmavidya & Prasada visit London for the book launch event and Sukhavati Open Day next month. There have been two visits from Modgala, who has been giving us her much appreciated support and guidance. We've been working in the garden clearing weeds and planting new things. Tony has a madcap scheme (Sangha willing) to plant mostly Japanese plants in the rear garden - you'd be surprised (perhaps) to know just how many Japanese plants there are available in Britain. Best plant so far: a beautiful Acer shirosawanum 'Aureum' tree - the Golden-Leaved Full Moon Maple - which will be planted in a shady spot in front of the retreat hut to be. The leaves flush bright Amida-shu yellow from pink buds in Spring and turn Amida red in the Autumn before falling. Most evocative plant name so far: x Hibanobambusa tranquillans 'Shiroshima' (!) which means 'the Tranquil Bamboo from Mt. Hiba (in Japan), White Island variety'. We'll plant that behind the Maple in a shady corner, where it's fluttering white variegated leaves will bring light and movement to a dark spot.
The community at the Buddhist House is continually shifting and growing, we recently saw the return of the community that were based in France over the summer, and said goodbye to the Bangaldeshi family that had been staying with us, hopefully only for a shortwhile, they hope to return soon. We look forward to the arrival of Prasada and Dharmavidya tomorrow.
As I write this, Suthama and our other new arrival Ha, a vistor from Korea are busy redecorating the kitchen at #6 ready for the new term, and Gareth and Modgala are preparing to head to the Ragged Egde Fair, in Cirencester. And Mudita and Ian are having thier final scan at the Hopsital, due date is less then seven weeks! A
Although the weather has turned cooler and clouder today, we had a wonderful bank holiday weekend, and went exploring for Blackberries, and came back with armfuls, the raberries in the garden are doing well aslo, so we are enjoying the fruits of summer.
Bank holiday weekend, Modgala went to a delightful music and fun festival in Cumbria. There, alongside Jane a fellow Amida student from the earliest days of Amida, she introduced Buddhism and Amida to a very new population. Midday walking nembutsu and sunset chanting in the sacred garden gave an alternative space amongst all the other music. The Amida tent, in the healing area offered a quietspace and room to chat for many festival goers. A chanting workshop was great fun too. There were often four generations of a family at the festival which offered a variety of music and events. And the sun shone too.....Namo Amida Bu