Amida Breeze Order of Amida Buddha Newsletter October, 2021
All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.
There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.
Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don't turn your face away.
Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.........
"All the True Vows" excerpt, from The House of Belonging by David Whyte.
Currently, ordained Order of Amida Buddha members are undergoing a process of review and revision of our vows in preparation for the Bodhi Day retreat, when we will publicly renew our vows. It's been a rich process.
While some may argue that the value of taking vows lies in establishing a code of conduct, or setting a common vision, for me the value of a vow is to articulate a way of being that has already been established in the heart. An authentic vow requires little effort, only remembrance of who we truly are.
Vows are evolving and dynamic. If we are open, we heed the invitation of a transformational process, moving us to change in the direction of greater wisdom and maturity. Growing into wisdom is about noticing "the truth you make every day with your own body" (David Whyte). Vows, like truth, arise.
It is a creative endevour to establish communal vows because each person is in a different place in the transformational process. The art of writing our vows has been to keep them broad enough to allow for individual lived experience, and specific enough that we articulate the essential qualities and values of our collective understanding.
In this newsletter, you will notice the iinvitation to all Order members - kai, shu and ordained, to attend out Bodhi retreat in December 8-12, 2021. The theme this year is "Vows". Please mark the dates on your calendar and plan to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!
namo amida bu,
[The Thirteenth Vow - Infinite Lifespan] Oh Blessed One, may I not come to the complete awakening if, when I have done so, my lifespan should have a limit.
There is a Tibetan saying that when we are born we cry and the world rejoices, and when we die the world cries but our spirit rejoices. Our ability to understand the full extent of our spiritual life beyond this physical body is extremely limited.
In Buddhism, Karma is a concept that includes and implies that we are more than just this physical body. There is a sense of a spiritual essence that has a history that is longer than we’ve lived in this present body. There is an implication that our spiritual energy and impulses go back a long time. Instead of our bodies being born first and then our spiritual or ethereal body appearing afterwards, it is the other way around. The spirit is waiting in the universe to be born to a particular person or couple, and then once they have chosen to whom and where they want to be born, they come into this world.
You could say that there are two different types of spirits. One is completely liberated like that of the Tathagatha and the other is not. To be reborn as a human is considered to be very precious because of the possibility to be free during this lifetime. However, if we don’t manage to achieve nirvana then at the point of death, our body dies and decays, but our spirit moves on and is reborn again.
Our outlook and attitude in modern western cultures has been largely shaped by science. The physical world that we can observe gives us evidence of objects existing, and so we tend to think that everything emanates from the physical body. Ultimately, in science, everything boils down to particles and waves. That which is measureless, like Amida, the spirit, the mind, or subtle energy is secondary.
This was not the case for Siddartha Gautama. He lived in a culture where Brahma, the ultimate reality, was real and the physical world emanated from the spiritual. The early Buddhists had a different understanding of the universe. What was real was spiritual, and one could transcend the material world, and tap into streams of consciousness that have existed for eternity, by meditating. There was a sense of the universe being eternal and everywhere. Instead of us being in the universe, the universe was in us. What causes great confusion and suffering is this sense of self as an entity that is real, fixed, and separate from the universe.
There are several accounts of the Buddha seeing and knowing his past lives up until he achieved nirvana. Even Honen Shonin laments about not being there when the Buddha is giving his discourses to the great throng of monks and nuns. Who knows how many lifetimes we’ve lived before this one. The theory of karma and rebirth into a new life includes this idea that we were something before, even if we can’t remember what or who we were. If we can live more than one lifetime, then this vow is there to reassure us that Amida’s love and compassion will be there for us, for as long as it takes us to enter nirvana. And, for those who have doubts about the practice of the nembutsu then not to worry, there will always be another chance.
If you haven't already done so, you can read Susthama's refections on the 11th and 12th Vows here.
Order Member News
Dear all. Namo Amida bu.
I am Koteswara Rao, from South India, in a State called Andhrapradesh where Nagarjuna established a University to study Buddhism. I was born in a remote place and baptised Lazarus. I studied until I was 12 years old in the Christian Church. But because of my revolutionary thoughts I left the church. But I still followed Christianity up until I was 20 years old. Then I gave up my belief in religion and wondered for a new one. At the age of 23, I encountered Buddhist people. Then onwards up to now I have been following Buddha Dhamma in a practical way.
10 years ago when I was in deep stress and depression I found Buddha Amitabha's name and his immeasurable qualities from a book. That was my first heartful connection with amitabha. I have been practicing Amitabha Buddha . I am very fortunate that I found the Amida Shu finally. I felt so happy that this is what I want and need and searching for my deep practice.
On 20th August, 2021 I took refuge in Amida Shu with the blessings of Rev. Susthama. Now I am one of the Amida Shu family members. I felt that I was reborn and that was my first step on white path to reach the other shore of Amida Buddha.
I felt very pleased to join such a quality and beautiful family of Amida Shu.
Thank you so much to all my amida family for your kind support in my practice.
May Amida Buddha blessings on all of us always.
With lots of love,
Namo Amida bu
My name is Andrea Bergström, 59 years old and I live with my husband in Hoogeveen, a village in the Netherlands. We have two grown children, our daughter who lives in Austria and our son who lives in a city near to Amsterdam.
In daily life I work as a self-employed person from my own practice
I teach Tai Chi, Mindfulness and since April this year I work as a counselor.
From 2016 until 2021 I studied for my diploma in Counseling in the Buddhist House in Narborough. There I got to learn more about Pure Land Buddhism from a psychological perspective in the Other Centred approach of Caroline Brazier.
Over the years my interest in Pure Land Buddhism grew and this year I started joining the online meetings from Amida Shu with Susthama and Vajrapala and began to practice the nembutsu and meditate more frequently.
I am grateful and very happy to have taken refuge, to become a disciple and join the Amida Shu. I am looking forward to the meetings and services to start again in September.
I hope to see you soon.
Namo Amida Bu
On 20 August we held two ceremonies online, one at 9am UK and then again at 6.30pm UK. Susthama and Vajra conducted the refuge and admissions ceremony, in which Carol Corey renewed the refuges, and Jimena Bali, Koteswara Rao Kommagiri, Gary Lee-Scott, Andrea Bergstrom, Alfred Turnipseed joined the Amida Shu and declared themselves devotees of Amida Buddha, . On Saturday 21 August, Vajra admitted Veronique Denis into the Amida Shu. Below are a few words from Alfred on what TakingRefuge meant for him.
After my surgery last February (for complications resulting from congestive heart failure), I experienced a light that was love & life. In a short time, I began to identify this light/love/life with Amida Buddha. Then, I recalled my devotions to various Christian saints & holy relics since youth—especially my veneration of the Shroud of Turin (believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ). In fact, many researchers hypothesize that the Image upon the Shroud was formed by a "sudden burst of light" coming from (what had been) the corpse of the enshrouded Man—again, presumably Jesus. Thus I began to see the pattern of my life: The Shroud, Amida, etc. … with LIGHT being the "golden string" joining everything together. I now believe that all my devotions are manifestations of my "karmic affinity" to Amida—to the fact that Amida chose me from the beginning to be in the company of his/her devotees in Amida Shu—chosen for the Pure Land "from eternity." Yes, all this suddenly became clear to me when I took refuge in the Five Jewels last week, for which I am very happy & deeply grateful. Truly, my life is to be a witness to the Light.
Alfred D. Turnipseed, Jr.
South Bend, Indiana, USA
Please refer to the website calendar for a complete list of gatherings, detailed information and zoom links.
If you have any questions about what we offer please contact: Susthama
Upcoming 2021 Order meetings: alternating between Saturday and Sunday on,
October 9, and November 14.
All meetings are held at 5p.m (UK time). Zoom link will be sent by email.
Bodhi Retreat: December 8 - 12, 2021. Stay tuned for more details.
Visit our website for a full list of weekly services and special events.
There you will find dates, times and links for joining via zoom. If you have any questions about what we offer please contact: Susthama Kim
AMIDA SHU BODHI RETREAT 2021
8 – 12, DECEMBER 2021 by Zoom
The retreat will take place in the afternoons, UK time and the precise hours
will be announced in following emails and newsletter
The theme for this years Bodhi Retreat is, Vows
During the Bodhi retreat we will reflect on what vows mean for us and how we can use them as an inspiration for our daily life. The afternoons will be filled with teachings, stone-passing, nembutsu and other practices, services, ceremony’s, meetings, etc…
The Order of Amida Buddha, is an international Devotional Pureland Buddhist Community dedicated to nurturing faith, offering fellowship, and inspiring compassionate care for our world. We are ordained and lay, seeking individually and collectively to bring the Light of Amida into our world.
"Friends", are Amida-shu or Amida-Kai members and are affiliated through heart and practice with the Order of Amida Buddha.
We welcome you to to learn more about us and to join in our weekly devotional services as well as other events as outlined on our website. www.amidashu.org