A page for news, updates, reflections, pastoral letters and more.
SPRING RETREAT, 5-8 APRIL 2024
Location – Anybody’s Barn in the UK.
Cost: £100 per person for food and accommodation.
This year is the 850th anniversary of the founding of Jodo Shu by Honen Shonin and we would most likely not be practicing the Nenbutsu without his teachings, so we thought it would be important to celebrate with them and link with their theme for the year; Happiness begins with the Buddha’s prayer.
“Happiness that begins with the Nenbutsu” means that by praising the Nenbutsu, you will realize that you are being kept alive. Chanting the Nenbutsu leads to the peace of mind that Amida is watching over you and will save you, which deepens your faith in the Nenbutsu”.
To book please email; email@example.com and we will send you a registration form.
The Amida Death Cafe
A safe space to speak openly about death and dying to be held on the 4th Thursday in January, February and March 2024 (29th February, 28th March) at 2.30 to 4.00 GMT (UK time) via Zoom. For further information and/or to sign up please contact Bhaktika.Fitter@gmail.com
The mission of a Death Cafe is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives. A Death Cafe is always run on a not for profit basis and has no agenda, objectives or themes. It is not a counseling session and there are no outcomes or conclusions to be drawn. It’s simply an opportunity to talk openly about death in safe and non-judgmental space…with (virtual) tea and cake, of course.
With the wish to help all beings, may all my thoughts, words and actions
be void of attachment and ego.
May they arise from compassion and wisdom.
May they be imbued with wisdom and joy.
– from “Going Home to the Pure Land”.
Heartland Zen: February 18, 2023
Susthama’s multi-layered talk delves into the origins of ‘Refuge’ in Buddhism, and a deep look at the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. She then adds the two additional refuges of Amida and the Pure Land, which can change our mental landscape and lead to greater liberation.
Heartland Zen: July 11 2021
After discussing some of the more common causes of depression, she talked about the inevitability of dukkha/suffering and how we might try seeing it as the groundwork for inclusiveness and compassion–whether antidepressants are used or not.
Heartland Zen: January 22, 2022
A FAITHFUL APPROACH TO THE SUTRAS.
A Heartland Zen Dharma talk by Susthama on 22 January 2022. Here she discusses the role of faith in Buddhist practice by examining both a Pali Canon and Mahanaya sutra.
Bestowed: Responses to the Visionary Mahayana Sutras
Digital artwork by Carol Corey, December 2022
Extract from Alfred Bloom’s book ‘Tannisho’, which is his commentary on ‘Tannisho’ – a summary by Yuiembo, a disciple of Shinran, of Shinran’s core teachings.
“More mystical or scholarly Buddhist teachers, in harmony with the nonduality of Buddha and the world, realized that there was no separate world of Amida, but that Amida may be the heart of the reality in which we live. For them the truth of the Pure Land and Amida Buddha is seen in the external aspiration of all humanity for a higher, more lasting spiritual existence. This aspiration is sometimes turned to pursuit of egoistic goals as the way to satisfy the deeper spiritual longings of the soul. Rebirth as the mythological-symbolic way of expressing enlightenment, takes place in the moment that one glimpses the true source of spiritual emancipation and realization. When one transcends his (sic) egoism, even for a short moment in his life, he senses the possibility of a new life. Our human problem is how to transform these occasional moments of spiritual exaltation and insight into a more permanent and enduring condition.”
Susthama Kim: Pastoral Letter – August 2021
OUR BOX OF MATCHES
Climate change is a global phenomenon that is having a huge impact on the well-being of human beings no matter where they live. We in the west have had the resources to shield ourselves against terrible weather in the past, but as weather patterns become more severe, the less we are able to defend ourselves against the force of nature. Floods and fires have been occurring all over the world and devastating poorer nations for a long time, and now, richer countries are experiencing the costly and ravaging effects of them.
In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published on 9 August 2021 from the United Nations, climate change researchers have confirmed that the extreme weather is caused by human activity. This is not surprising, nor is it new. Scientists and researchers in this field have been warning us about the dangers of emitting greenhouse gases for some time now. However, being told that we are in danger and pointing to facts on a piece of paper are not as dramatic or influential as mother nature stopping us in our tracks.
We are animals that will continue particular behaviours that support our lifestyles that we love to live. We do not find change and discipline easy. New Year’s resolutions are a good example of how easy it is to know what’s good for us but hard to carry through to a full lifestyle change. If it is that hard for one person to improve one’s life and be better off, just think then, how much harder it would be for one person to change so that others, not including oneself, are better off. No matter how resolute, nor how beneficial it is for us to stop certain behaviours, we crumble and fall before our habits.
Humans are greedy, angry, and deluded. Put a group of people together and that group can create systems of power that are based on greed, hate, and delusion. Group those groups together and we have nations that collectively exploit resources, take up arms in order to defend, and call themselves sovereign.
We have found ways of living that are indulgent, cruel, and harmful to all species that inhabit this planet. We have seen a growing loss of forest and marine life, and a growing list of endangered species and a long list of extinct ones. And now, the United Nations is highlighting that we have got to reduce emissions which means that we have to reduce our demand for fossil fuels which means we have to end our greed for more cars, bigger houses, stronger machines and other items that give us status in society and a sense of being a somebody.
Buddhist psychology is based on the principle that the self is an illusion. The self is not a true or fixed entity, but rather a changeable one. If there was a real and fixed self, then we would be able to pick and choose what we want to feel. However, studies, and time spent meditating on the self and the mind over 2,500 years ago, and documented in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, continually show that feelings arise unbidden, and will come and go like the weather. They are impermanent and unreliable. Continue reading…
The Seventeenth Vow
AMIDA’S 48 GREAT VOWS:
In my statement of intent to the Order as part of the election process, I wrote that I would follow Amida’s 48 great vows to guide me. I would like to take some time to look at all the vows, where they come from and what they mean. These vows are found in the Larger Pure Land Sutra which was told by the Buddha on Vulture’s Peak. Continue Reading…
The 17th Vow
The 16th Vow
The 15th Vow
The 14th Vow
The 12th Vow
The 11th Vow
The 10th Vow
The 9th Vow
The 8th Vow
The 7th Vow
The 6th Vow
The 5th Vow
The 4th Vow
The 3rd Vow
The 2nd Vow
The 1st Vow
KARANIYA METTA SUTTA
(Edited by Bhaktika and Sundari)
Lovingkindness, or metta meditation, is a traditional Buddhist practice that helps us to move from a sense of dislocation and isolation into more of a connection with ourselves and, ultimately, with all beings everywhere. The literal translation of the word metta is “friendship.” So metta means being a friend to ourselves and a friend to all of life. Its foundation is connection. Every action that anyone commits – even the most misguided and evil action – is an attempt to escape suffering. So we can wish that all beings, including ourselves, find the wisdom to see that true happiness is supported by love and awareness, and not by hatred and violence.
May all beings be happy and secure.
May all beings become happy in their heart of hearts!
And think of every being without exception: the weak and the strong, from the smallest to the largest, whether you can see them or not, living nearby or far away, beings living now or yet to arise – may all beings become happy in their heart of hearts!
May no one deceive or look down on anyone anywhere, for any reason. Whether through feeling angry or through reacting to someone else, may no one want another to suffer.
As strongly as a mother, perhaps risking her life, cherishes her child, develop an unlimited heart for all beings.
Develop an unlimited heart of friendliness for the entire universe, sending metta above, below, and all around, beyond all narrowness, beyond all rivalry, beyond all hatred.
Whether you are staying in one place or travelling, sitting down or in bed, in all your waking hours rest in this mindfulness, which is known as like living in heaven right here and now!