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Amida Breeze
Order of Amida Buddha Newsletter
November, 2021 
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors …

John Keats, ‘Bright Star’.
 
Greetings
 

Bodhi Day is fast approaching and as is customary in the Order of Amida Buddha, we will gather for a retreat to reflect on the significance of the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. This year the theme for our retreat is, “Vows”  and the days will be filled with talks, chanting, and services.  The highlight of our time together is Saturday's Vow Ceremony. 

In our home, shortly before Bodhi Day, we place small vases filled with white and red carnations and greenery at the foot of all the household Buddha’s. On Bodhi Day, we walk around chanting and bowing to each of the Buddha’s.  It is a simple ritual that is very meaningful to us.

As Bodhi Day draws near, I wish all of you joy and peace as you celebrate in your own way. I look forward to seeing you at the Bodhi Retreat. 


namo amida bu,
 
Prajnatara
 


From Susthama

Drawing by Prachi Nagpal

The Power of Vows

The practice of the nembutsu is simple and yet profound. Saying the nembutsu is a verbal declaration of taking refuge in Amida Buddha. As soon as we say, ‘Namo Amida Bu’ the gateway to the Dharma opens. The next step is to step across the threshold, in faith, and enter our spiritual home.

Our spiritual home is full of the ordinary and the extraordinary. The Nembutsu is for the average common person. We, usually, but not always, start from a position of imperfection. We know and feel the conflict between the head and the heart. Our head, the voice of reason, thinks it knows what is good for us and convinces us of where we should be in the future. Except that sometimes, it can lose sight of what is right in front of us, and because we aren’t where we think we ought to be, our cold heady self can create barriers and obstacles that are ‘all in the mind.’

The ordinary person is a stuck person. We are not as free as we would like to be. We want to move forward, but the pressure of having to move forward is too great that we can’t. We are like the traveler on the narrow white path. We can’t move forward because we can’t see the path anymore and we can’t go back because of all the demons behind us. We can’t move sideways because on one side is the river of greed and the other is the river of hate. 

Our spiritual home is full of vows. Vows that enable us to open our hearts. Vows that show us how to give up on self and give in to Amida. With our head bowed low, it gives our heart a chance to open. As we become more open, we might feel what it is the heart longs for. We might just hear the calling of Amida back to our spiritual home. 

Out of sheer love, our hearts take control and together with our knowledge and intelligence we can figure out how to achieve our hearts longing. Vows are a description of the ideal. If we were truly awakened, then we would fulfil these vows easily, but as ordinary beings attempting to do the extraordinary, we expect to fail. It is because we get it wrong that Amida loves us and comes to our aid. When the heart gets things wrong, love is there to hold and support, it is not shameful but humbling.


Oh Bodhi Tree, Oh Bodhi Tree....

This article is from Tricycle - December 19.2019
by 
Reverend Earl Ikeda

December is a month of holidays, or as a popular song goes, “the most wonderful time of the year.” I tend to agree with this sentiment as I enter into the spirit of the season and experience the brilliant sights and sounds. It is a wonderful time, especially if we remember to celebrate with feelings of peace and good will, banish our harsh judgments and foolish prejudices, and remind ourselves of our interrelatedness with other people, sentient beings, and the natural environment that surrounds us.

In the United States, the most common celebrations are, of course, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. But in the Japanese Buddhist tradition, we also observe Bodhi Day. On December 8, we recognize the day, 2,500 years ago, when the historical Buddha attained enlightenment. As he sat under a Bodhi tree, reaching down with his finger touching the earth, he awakened to an awesome awareness that everything in the entire universe is connected and removed himself from all the forms of anger, greed, and desire that cause suffering—and thus attained a state of perfect wisdom and compassion. It’s a good day to remember to adopt the tenets of the eightfold path in our daily lives and to feel gratitude for Shakyamuni and Amida Buddha’s compassion.

There is, however, a part of Bodhi Day that is a little sad for me because in order to attain enlightenment Shakyamuni had to essentially “kill” himself by negating all of his perceived truths. However, he experienced a “rebirth,” becoming the Buddha and understanding the universal truth of the dharma—the four noble truths and eightfold path. This is referred to as the turning of the wheel.

December is also a month of traditions and customs and gathering with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. When I was growing up, my parents operated a business in Hawaii, and at this time of year, my father always made a point to reduce his debts and to make courtesy calls to all the people who made our family business possible. I remember as a little boy I would accompany him on these visits, sometimes to places quite distant from our house, and we would get home very late. But regardless of the time and distance involved, these year-end calls were important to my father. It was deeply meaningful for him formally to say thank you for their help and patronage during the past year, and to reflect on the possibility, working together, of a better year to come.

I think of these visits when I reflect upon another element of this season, which is the custom of giving and receiving gifts. Exchanging gifts is a way of sharing our joy and expressing appreciation and affection to those who are close to us. But what if we don’t have the resources to buy presents? Does it mean that we cannot give anything? Absolutely not! I often forget that the most meaningful gifts are those with no monetary value at all.

This concept is embodied in dana [selfless giving], one of the six par­amitas or transcendent actions or perfections followed on the path of enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism. Dana cannot be measured in terms of financial value. Dana encompasses giving that has a positive impact, even if the gift is simply freely sharing something of yourself with genuine understanding, love, and compassion while expecting nothing in return. When we feel spiritually or emotionally down, a kind word, a gentle touch, or a simple smile—someone reaching out to express sympathy and understanding—is more valuable than an expensive object. It changes everything! It means that someone is recognized just as they are. During this time of giving, we should not place too much importance on material gifts; it’s our thoughts, words, and deeds that count. Sincere expressions of appreciation, praise, thanks, and an unexpected helping hand can be the most treasured gifts of all.

As we enter the holidays, we put aside our differences and warmly express our cheer and well wishes to all. As part of the spirit of the season, let’s remember the light of Amida Buddha. It’s like the sun that radiates innumerable rays of light outwardly toward everyone equally everywhere, sustaining us. The immeasurable light of Amida Buddha illuminates and permeates all worlds, reaching out and summoning us with the command of the primal vow to recite the Buddha’s name in gratitude.

Happy Holidays!

 

2021 Bodhi Retreat 8 December - 12 December (All times are in UK time)

 

Wednesday 8 December

2.00pm WELCOME AND GATHERING

Susthama will talk about Vows and why it was important for her to take them.

2.30pm SANGHAMITRA (TITLE OF SESSION TO BE ANNOUNCED)

3 - 4.00pm CONTEMPLATIVE READING - Daya The session begins with a meditation. A chosen reading is read aloud. A spiritual discussion takes place regarding what the reading evokes within each person with emphasis on personal interpretation of the reading and how this is experienced in your life.

Thursday 9 December

4 - 5.00pm SPIRITUAL FORMATION PROGRAM  Prajna - Introducing, The Heart of a Buddha, 2-Year Spiritual Formation Program. An overview of what "spiritual formation" is, along with some highlights of the program.

5 - 6.00pm MY GRIEVING PROCESS  Bhaktika will give a workshop on grief, sharing his reflections and insights from his own journey of loss.

Friday 10 December

4 - 5.00pm SONGS OF REFUGE  Vajra will facilitate a chanting and singing session about the good life, and about faith and virtue. Singing the Nembutsu and other Songs of Refuge with joy and enthusiasm.

5 - 5.30pm MY ROUTE TO THE DHARMA  Karmadeva will talk about his journey, and what it was like searching and finding Buddhism, and then taking vows.

5.30 - 6pm DHARMAKARA’S 22nd VOW  Richard will speak about the Twenty Second Vow from the Larger Pureland Sutra in relation to the path of the Bodhisattva.

Saturday 11 December

3 - 5.00pm RENEWING VOWS CEREMONY

Sunday 12 December

2 - 3.30pm FINAL GATHERING AND CLOSING CEREMONY


 
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… 

Contact  susthamakim@gmail.com, for a ticket to attend.  Suggested donation is 25 pounds.

 


Schedule

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 


Important Dates

Bodhi Retreat: December 8 - 12, 2021. 

The Heart of a Buddha, spiritual formation program, begins
January 11, 2022.  

 
Order of Amida Buddha Website
 
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
 

 



Useful Links

Meetings and services that are provided by the Order: Meetings and Services 

Pastoral letters by Reverend Susthama Kim:  Pastoral Letters 

The hymns and texts used in the services: Nien Fo Service Book

Support for Amida India: Please Donate Here


Ordained Order Members

Susthama  - UK
Vajra - Belguim
Karmedeva - UK
Sanghamitra - UK
Vimlashri - Israel
Pundarika - Israel
Prajna - Canada
Daya - Canada
Ganendra - Spain
Jnanamati - UK
Bhaktika - UK
Suanda - India 





 

About Us
 
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

 

Copyright © 2021 Order of Amida Buddha, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Flat 6, Turin House, Venice Ave
Watford, WD18 7BW
Contact email:
susthamakim@gmail.com

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Amida Mosaic · 16 Ravenglass Cres. · London, ON N6G 4K1 · Canada

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