This is the letter we give to people who’ve been around a little while – maybe they’ve attended 5 or 6 services, or they’ve been to various extra events. If you’d like to use it with your own group please feel free to copy/amend as appropriate and let us know if you’d like the Word version.
We’ve seen you a few times at the temple now, and so there must be something that is drawing you back. It might be the people or the peace of the practice, you might be appreciating the teachings, or it might just be some vague and indescribable feeling. Whatever the reason, we’re glad you’re still here.
We’re writing to let you know about a few of the good things we have to offer here, which will help you to keep exploring and to deepen your relationship with the practice.
- Start a short home practice. We have a leaflet here that you can take away, and there is also a page about doing some Buddhist practice at home on our website. If you haven’t already you can also sign up to our newsletter here: www.amidamandala.com.
- Continue your reading. Kaspa and Satya have written an introduction to Amida Shu Buddhism called ‘Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings’. The Head of the Amida Order, Dharmavidya (David Brazier), has written many wonderful books – you might want to start with The Feeling Buddha or Who Loves Dies Well.
- Make some new friends. We are a small Order but we have a lovely international community with groups in Belgium, Canada, Israel, Hawaii and more. Join Amida Shu’s virtual temple at www.friendsofamida.com and share a little about yourself.
- Become a Friend of Amida Mandala. We really appreciate regular monthly donations as it helps us plan ahead and we can claim back gift aid – choose your amount (£15, £25, £40 or whatever you can afford) and sign up at www.amidamandala.com.
- Think about giving something back. You may have already offered to make the tea or do the washing up, and you may have helped welcome a first-timer by giving them a friendly smile. Other ideas are: bring food for the food bank box, attend ‘Taking Care of the Temple’ hour on a Sunday or come to one of our volunteer days.
- Taking refuge. If you would like to make a more formal commitment to Buddhism, we have a simple ceremony that we perform on request as a part of Buddhist services called ‘taking refuge’. Our five refuges are Amida Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha and the Pure Land. Taking refuge is the first step for people who want to join our school of Buddhism, Amida Shu. If you are interested in knowing more, ask a priest.
The following information might fill in some gaps in your basic knowledge. It may also help you to explain to your friends and family why you come to the temple.
The essence of Pureland Buddhism is the same as is at the heart of all great spirituality: how we can put ourselves in relationship with unconditional love, and live a life that is open, spontaneous, compassionate and full of faith.
In Pureland Buddhism, that great unconditional love is embodied by Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Life and Light. We recognise that as foolish human beings we are full of greed, hate and delusion, and that we tend to act selfishly and make mistakes. Crucially we also recognise that, despite this, we are completely acceptable and lovable in that condition. Just as we are.
In the language of Pureland Buddhism, what we are accepted by is the love of the Buddhas, and Amida Buddha in particular. We practice reciting the Buddha’s name in order to allow some of the spirit of that great love into our lives. This practice is called the ‘nembutsu’. We say the Buddha’s name in different languages but in this school we mostly use the Japanese – ‘Namo Amida Bu’.
In modern psychological terms, our practice is to allow the archetypal figure of Amida (something completely wise and loving) to infect our unconscious mind – and to bring about a deep change at this level. Practising in this way, our lives become more meaningful. As we recognise our nature as ordinary flawed and fallible human beings, we become more sympathetic to the failings of others. We feel loved and more able to love others in return.
Amida Shu Buddhism is a form of original Buddhism affirming the trikaya nature of Buddha,
the bombu nature of the adherent and the primacy of taking refuge, especially by reciting the nembutsu.
Trikaya nature is a way of describing three different bodies or aspects of the Buddha: the ineffable Buddha, the spiritual Buddha, and the embodied Buddha. A bombu being is a foolish being of wayward passions.
Amida Shu (Shu means ‘School’) is an international Buddhist sangha in the Pureland tradition of Buddhism founded by Dharmavidya David Brazier in 1998. A sangha is a group of Buddhists who practice and learn together. We take refuge through reciting the nembutsu and other Buddhist practices which helps us to lean into the Buddha, the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings) and the sangha and be held.
Keep coming back,
Kaspa & Satya