This is the letter we give to people when they join Amida Shu. 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.
Congratulations for becoming a member of Amida Shu. You are now a part of a Pureland Buddhist family around the world. You have made a commitment to us, and you have valuable experience of practice, study, and community: you are a precious member of our group.
This letter is to tell you what’s available to you as you continue to deepen your refuge in Amida, and to explore your path as your spiritual life matures. It’s not necessary to take up any of these suggestions, but if you feel some enthusiasm for one or more of them then we encourage you to follow it, and we’ll be happy to support you.
Your Bodhisattva path: Innumerable are sentient beings, we vow to save them all
A Pureland Bodhisattva knows their own fallibility. This awareness allows fellow feeling to arise. When we become vulnerable in front of the Buddha and feel loved in return, we naturally soften our hearts towards others, and long to bring them to the dharma.
The Bodhisattva path encourages us to reflect on our actions and choices. It asks us to to see our human limitations, and to act on the compassionate impulses that appear as we deepen our refuge.
These compassionate impulses might lead you to social engagement, to ministry or chaplaincy, or simply to kinder relationships with other sentient beings.
Now you have joined Amida Shu you will have been allocated a mentor (unless you had one already). Do make use of this person to talk about your spiritual path, ask any questions that you need to ask, and so on. Of course your conversations about spirituality and Pureland Buddhism aren’t limited to your mentor, but it’s good to know that there’s one person you can turn to. You may want to talk to your mentor about some of the things in this letter, for example.
By now you might have an established regular home practice. If you want to develop this, or to set one up if you haven’t done so already, do ask for a conversation with a senior member here, take our ‘practice at home’ leaflet or visit:
We sometimes offer retreats or retreat days here at the temple. Having a sustained period of immersion in the dharma can deepen your connection to the Buddha, bring new insights, and lead to a renewed sense of refuge.
It’s also possible to have an individual retreat at the temple in one of our guest rooms. These can be more or less structured. Types of personal retreat include chanting retreats, Nei Quan retreats, or silent unstructured retreats.
Other Amida groups, centres and Order members also offer retreats and workshops. We’ll let you know as and when we hear about them, and you might also want to sign up to the mailing lists of other centres or ‘like’ their Facebook pages to stay informed.
Other spiritual traditions and organisations also hold retreats and events that can be a good addition to an Amida Shu member’s spiritual life.
Have you completed the online Introduction to Pureland Buddhism course? If not we’d encourage you to take this up. If you have completed it there are different options for continuing to study with Amida Shu.
The online Vow 22 programme offers a systematic education in Pureland Buddhist principles, history, and its practical application to ministry and the spiritual life. Many lessons are based around audio lectures by Dharmavidya.
The distance learning programme in Buddhist Psychology shows how Buddha Shakyamuni was the ideal therapist, and how we can use Buddhist psychological ideas for our own development and in our work with others. See http://courses.zentherapyinternational.com for information on these programmes.
For more ad-hoc study there are audio teachings available at www.amidashu.org, written teachings at our virtual temple at www.friendsofamida.com, and books by Dharmavidya and other Amida Shu members to read.
Start a Home Group
If you don’t live close to the temple or if you’d like the extra support of being in a smaller group, you may want to start a Home Group. Home groups are local Amida groups run by people like you, with the support of an Amida mentor and resources like our guide to running a Home Group.
Home Groups (continued)
Running a Home Group will give you face-to-face connection with other like minded people. It can also be an expression of your Bodhisattva path, as you create a space which allows others to connect to the light of the Buddhas.
Some Home Groups focus on practice, some on study, some are a mixture of both. Some included personal sharing. All have the welcoming spirit of Amida Shu. To find out more see: www.amidamandala.com/homegroups
Do you have a vocation?
Some people feel called to a more formal ministry and want to explore becoming Priests with the Amida Order. The first stage of this is a training position called ‘aspirancy’, with a training programme of a couple of years that includes study, mentoring, personal development, attending retreats and running a group of your own. The ministry training programme is run by Rev Acharya Sujatin, head of the Ministry Team, and Rev Kaspa, her deputy. This route isn’t for everyone and you can be a hugely valuable part of the sangha without becoming Ordained. If this is something that interests you, ask to speak to Kaspa or Sujatin.
What does a mature Amida Shu practitioner look like?
Amida Shu members all reflect the light of the Buddha in their own way. We are like prisms or crystals of different shapes and colours refracting and reflecting the light of the dharma in many different ways.
We are all committed to Amida Shu practice, and to the community of Amida Shu. Some of us are connected to local groups, some of us visit temples, centres and groups that are further away. Some of us are connected to just a few other members, some of us are connected to many other members.
As we deepen our refuge we might begin to follow impulses that change the shape of our lives: leading us to different work, or to increasing the quality of our relationships.
As bombu beings we are fallible and vulnerable, and we take refuge in Buddha Amida.
Namo Amida Bu
With best wishes,
Kaspa & Satya