This is the letter we give to people who come to their first service at Amida Mandala – 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.
So you’ve been to your first service…
Some people find our form of Buddhist practice quite strange at first. If you’re not used to chanting or to ritual the whole thing can feel a little odd (although some people take to it straight away).
If you did find the practice unusual, we hope that you were also able to notice other things. Many people find the chanting soothing, or notice the peaceful atmosphere in the shrine room. We hope that you felt welcomed by our community. We’re always pleased to meet new people.
If you enjoyed the atmosphere or connected with the people, then we’d encourage you to come back and experience our practice again. We received a great deal from this tradition: solace, wisdom, friendship; and we’d love to pass it on.
Of course, Amida Shu Buddhism isn’t for everyone. If your path is elsewhere then we wish you all the best and we hope that you find the right place for you. If there’s anything we can do for you in the future, do get in touch or come back anytime.
Rev Kaspalita and Rev Satyavani (Kaspa and Satya) – Priests of the Amida Order
P.S. If you want to hear more from us do sign up to our weekly email newsletter at www.amidamandala.com (make sure you tick ‘weekly local news’).
P.P.S. On the back of this letter is a basic introduction to Pureland Buddhism. Flip the page over and have a read, if you like.
What is Amida Shu Buddhism?
Our form of practice can seem complicated at first but at its heart is very simple – we take refuge in something good, and we trust that as we lean in we will begin to feel safe and accepted. As this feeling soaks through us, we find ourselves more able to handle the ups and downs of everyday life, and more able to be kind to others. We hope that you will discover this for yourself.
For us, that ‘something good’ is epitomised by Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life. We take refuge in the Buddha by saying ‘Namo Amida Bu’. We also do this in other ways during our Buddhist services – by sitting in silent meditation, by walking and chanting, and by making offerings and prostrations. We also take refuge in the Dharma, the Buddha’s teachings; and the sangha, the community of Buddhists around the world.
How does Buddhism help?
Some of us came to Buddhism as we were interested in the teachings or in living more meaningful or more spiritual lives. Some of us were seeking calm, clarity or comfort. Some of us had become aware of our limitations. Some of us were in pain and turned to spirituality as a last resort or in desperation. We all came seeking something new.
All of us have found that we can take refuge in something bigger than ourselves – Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light. We find that it doesn’t matter how we conceptualise of Amida Buddha or whether we believe in the teachings literally or metaphorically. We all find our own personal way of making sense of the teachings. What is important is that we see Amida Buddha as a presence that is infinitely loving, patient and wise, and that Amida Buddha is not something inside ourselves.
We deepen our refuge in Amida by saying Namo Amida Bu, by studying the teachings, and by attending Amida Shu groups where we can practice, study and share together.
In our experience, as our sense of refuge slowly deepens, we feel more settled and content. We are able to live more skillfully and we become more available to help others in a way that feels healthy for us and for them. We receive the love and grace of Amida which helps us in our daily lives.
No matter what your reasons are for coming to the temple, and whatever difficulties exist in your past or your present, we hope that you will also find the consolation we have found in this sangha, and that Amida’s grace will shine on you. Namo Amida Bu.