Every community has at its core its discernment of the sacred.
Our community has at its heart the nembutsu, which is our expression of our love for the Buddha and, more importantly, our gratitude for his love of us. We gather round the Buddha as the bearer of light: the light of love, the light of compassion, the light of joy, the light of peace, the light that outshines sun, moon and stars, the unimpeded light, light of eternity. Buddhas discern such light, declare it, and walk their talk.
In love of Buddha, therefore, we who are not particularly brave in nature work for peace, for an end to cruelty, for mutual respect, for freedom. In love of Buddha we who are not particularly generous in nature go forth for the good of the many: for the poor in India, for the sick in Africa, for those troubled in spirit in the corners of the affluent world. In love of Buddha we who are not particularly harmonious in nature try to live in goodwill together, making community, and creating the infra-structure of a better world.
We whose ability to discern the light of the world is at best intermittent, nonetheless can remember the love of the awakened ones who are constantly working for the sake of all benighted beings adrift in the flood. In brief, through nembutsu, we resist oppression; through nembutsu we assist the afflicted; through nembutsu we demonstrate an
alternative. Our vision is wholly religious, wholly grounded in faith, because we are not enlightened, not perfected, not so wise, not so competent as to be able to do all things by our own power.
Amida Shu has at its core a particular discernment of the sacred, the measureless, the spirit that is the unconditional friend of all, Amida. Amida comes into our lives and transforms our work. We who are bombu are raised up by faith, guided by faith, equalized by faith. The world measures and grades, dividing the legitimate from the illegitimate, the
good from the bad, the certificated from the uncertificated. The most that worldly charity offers is access to privilege. Amida transcends such divisions. Before Amida Nyorai we are all equal. In our discernment of the sacred, Amida accepts the bad, the excluded, the uncertificated, the displaced, even more readily than those who are already accomplished or privileged. Nyorai’s grace is not limited to those who cultivate the right mind state, pass the right exam, belong to the right lineage, or jump through the right hoops. We are an outpost of Nyorai’s Pure Land. We, the misfits, fit here. We are trying to live a life that is genuine – a life free from spin – while recognising that we are just ordinary, unenlightened beings.