Some notes on the application of Marvin Browns categories to Amida-shu
The entry about Marvin Brown's idea of integrity having four dimensions prompts me to comment upon each in relation to Amida-shu and Amida Trust.
- Consistency: While there may be a broad overall consistency an organic structure like Amida embraces considerable diversity, experimentation and, in a simple sense, inconsistency in its operations. There is a distinct tendancy to attempt a "both...and..." approach rather that a "either...or..." one. The consistency that is attempted lies more at the values level - see point four - than in the procedural one. Local Amida groups and congregations, for instance, have substantial autonomy in how they order their affairs.
- Relational Awareness: A strong feature of the Amida approach is the quality and strength of the relationships that develop and what would in many organisations be regarded as the "informal" or "unofficial" aspect of the organisation - such things as comradeship, bonding, and personal support, are here "official" and recognised as both means and goal. As for formal relations, there is a consciousness of the importance of proper boundaries, and at the same time, there is an ethos of role flexibility in the sense, not that roles themselves modify so much as that individuals learn to be versatile in moving from role to role much more readily than in common in most organisations.
- Inclusion: Inclusion operates at different levels and has much to do with a sense of identity and identification with a group. Small groups, such as convocations can become intimate and deeply personally meaningful. Larger structures affect us in a somewhat different way. At present most of the structures within Amida are small because the organisation is itself young. However some structures (eg. congregations) have the potential to grow indefinitely while others (eg. convocations) do not. At present there is a strong esprit de corps that has steadily intensified over several years. Whether this will be maintained indefinitely remains to be seen. It is easy to have a sense that "this may be the best time" - but we have been feeling that for a while now.
- Purpose: Purpose comes at different levels of scale: to further the Buddhist faith, to establish a centre in India, to offer a Sunday service regularly, to get a meal on the table by 6pm. Also there are qualitiatively different kinds of putpose indicated by the terms "goals" and "values". In this sense, Amida is a values organisation primarily and is more driven by the desire to actualise those values than to achieve specific outcomes. When valoues and planned outcomes clash it is values that prevail. Arguably this feed back into other cohesion factors making identification stronger for those on the inside, but it may lead to apparent incoherence to the casual observer and so make initial entry more problematic.