December 8th is Enlightenment Day, the celebration of the founding of the Buddhist religion. At The Buddhist House members of the Amida sangha are gathered in retreat. Highlights of the retreat have been and are being broadcast using the video facility on the Friends of Amida ning site. These have included the 24 hour nembutsu chanting on 1st-2nd, ceremonies and teachings by Dharmavidya and Prasada, and will include an ordination on 7th December at 9.00 GMT, further teachings and practice. The ordination of a new member of the sangha is something particularly precious in this age and society where the vital ingredient of personal commitment is often rare. It is a gift to humanity. It is also entry into the most wonderful life.
The retreat marks the end of a full year for the Amida sangha and, perhaps, a cusp in the ethos of society at large where economic difficulties and political change are at a particularly acute stage. This is a time to reach out. The advent of an as yet primitive broadcasting facility is focussing minds upon how to further improve the connection between activity at The Buddhist House and those who are connected but unable to be physically present and how to enable Amidists around the world to play a full part in prctice and propagation of the Dharma. Amida activity overseas seems once again to be increasing after a lull. Concern for the distant and sometimes unseen other is a valuable aspect of Buddhist training and therefore a by no means inappropriate concern for a week dedicated to awakening. Our community is centred on faith and in our faith community, the sangha jewel, plays a particularly important role. As the connections within our sangha intensify so the influence of Amida Buddha shines more and more brightly in this afflicted world; when we have faith in the Buddha's principle of concern for the other miracles happen of their own accord. Namo Amida Bu.