In memorium: Suvidya Gautam

    Categories: Uncategorised

    Remembering Suvidya.

    I was very sad to hear the news that our dear friend, colleague and dharma brother Rev. Suvidya, from the India Sangha, has passed away. I knew he was very I’ll but somehow had assumed that he would be one of the lucky ones who pulled through.

    I have very fond memories of being with Suvidya, who was my host and guide when I visited the Indian Sangha in 2018.

    He was a very special person, overflowing with love and grace, always ready to sacrifice his own needs or comforts for the good of others and to fulfil his duties as a Pureland Buddhist Priest.

    He was, unsurprisingly, very popular with his congregation and followers, who all seemed to look up to him with adulation, as if he represented some kind of father figure or role model. I was very moved by the effect that he had on the people he came into contact with.

    On hearing the news, after the initial shock, my next thoughts were that, if anybody is destined for the Pure Land and qualifies for the salvifific power of Amìda Buddha, Suvidya would be at the front of the queue. His devotion was absolute.

    As always, when somebody close to my heart leaves this world, I am left with the question of how to balance these losses and hold them as part of my faith without attachment or aversion. Faith in Amitabha does not protect us from death, that was never the promise. In fact, we are encouraged to embrace death as an important part of life and to accept it as an integral component of our journeys in this impermanent world.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all who knew and loved Suvidya, I hope that we can all find comfort in the joys of his life and the fact that, as a Pureland devotee, he will now be residing with Amida in the Land of Peace and Bliss.

    Namo Amida Bu.

    Dayamay

    Rooms available for new residents

    Categories: Uncategorised

    We have a couple of rooms available for new temple residents from mid-May in our Pure Land Buddhist temple in Great Malvern.

    We’re looking for someone who’s already connected to our Buddhist practice, or someone who’s willing to come along to practice sessions and see if what we offer here is a fit. Find out how to attend via Zoom or come to our garden practice if you’re local.

    We’re in the centre of Great Malvern and it’s a beautiful place to live for the right person. People have their own jobs and lives, and we come together to practice and to eat together once a week on a Friday night (along with occasional film nights etc). We have members of the public in for Buddhist practice twice a week and to events like Dharma talks and volunteer days when we open up to the public again in June. We currently have 7 lovely residents, plus Satya and Kaspa who run the temple and have their own flat at the bottom of the building, 3 dogs, a cat and three bunnies. There’s no alcohol, meat or fish allowed in the building. It is a mixed vegetarian and vegan household (vegan preferred) and our Friday meal is always vegan. Satya, Kaspa and a couple of others in the community are engaged in environmental activism.

    The rooms are single with an attached shower/bath and toilets – one has a view across the valley. There are lots of shared spaces and a big garden. The rooms are from £360 pcm including most bills.

    If you might be interested or know someone who might be, do write something about yourself to Kaspa & Satya at hello@brightearth.org and we can set up a conversation. Find out more about our practice and philosophy here at our website.

    Namo Amitabha.

    Mindful Walk

    Categories: buddhism earth
    Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

    To my left I noticed heaps of dried brown leaves on the ground, above them tender green leaves were beginning to uncurl in the sycamore tree.  A robin jumped onto a fallen branch, moving in that clockwork way that birds have, and looked into my eyes before flitting away.

    I was at the front of our single file mindful walk, and my thoughts about how quickly or slowly I was supposed to be leading the group had cleared enough for me to pay closer attention to the natural world.

    It is not always true, but more often than not when I move slowly through the natural world my habitual busy mind begins to quiet and leave space for something else. Sometimes that something else is the natural world —the intimacy of experience that comes when we are really quiet and paying attention —and sometimes that something new is a thought or feeling that was previous hidden or unformed.

    After half an hour or so of slow walking we came to the furthest point of the walk. There was a saddle between two hills on the right, a valley of scree and dirt and scrub between the peaks, at the point our path curved away to the left. We found places to sit here, in a kind of beach with the hills at our back, the view opening up between the trees in front of us, and the valley dropping away below.

    As we settled into meditate here I felt like we were inhabiting a sacred place. The sky was clear, we could see for miles across Worcestershire, and the air was full of birdsong. A family walking past us fell into silence as they noticed us sitting in meditation, and this added to feeling of sacred space.

    I already knew this curve in the path, and this view. There was a bench there that I had sat on before, and yet there was something particular special that day. I’m sure the act of walking mindfully to that place changed my experience of it.

    On the slow walk back I began to notice the noise and smells of the town again. The air quality changed – got worse –the further down the hill we got, and the noise of the traffic became louder and more insistent.

    Here was all this beauty and I was acutely aware of what has already been lost and the damage that we are continuing to do to the natural world, and that much of the comfort of my own life rests upon the progress that has created this suffering.

    An ambulance passed on the road below. Will our efforts to take care of the earth be enough to make a difference, I wondered?

    As we approached where we had begun I noticed pale yellow primroses coming up through the grass. There was a small flowering of hope in me then, seeing these wild flowers pushing up through the civilised straight edged lawn.

    What should I do?

    Categories: buddhism

    by Kaspa

    Image by Mathieu Vivier from Pixabay

    ‘These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.

    The Kalama Sutta

    There are so many different kinds of suffering, and so many available teachers and teachings claiming to speak to that suffering. How can we know what to trust? How can we know what to do?

    At one time the Buddha visited Kalama and was asked about what teachings the people of Kalama should follow. They had various visiting holy figures, which teaching should they trust?

    The Buddha encouraged them to observe the result of practising those teachings, to test them and to observe the people who are practising them. If they lead to happiness for all beings, follow them. If they lead to suffering, reject them.

    I think this advice works on two levels. We can consciously observe the practices and results and think through the teaching and the situation we are in. This kind of working out can be very useful and valuable.

    There is also an intuitive process that becomes easier to access the longer we have been practising for.  As our meditation or nembutsu practise deepens we occasionally receive guidance from something outside of our own small minds: the wisdom of the Buddha appears spontaneously and we have a deep confident sense of the next right thing.

    Often this is so obviously the right direction that there is no need to question or test it. We can simply trust and follow the wisdom of the Buddha.

    Sometimes we may doubt what we receive, and then we can test it by asking is it in line with the precepts? Will it lead to happiness? Is it in the spirit of generosity and compassion?

    Rev Koshin Schomberg describes receiving wisdom at this deep level:

    “From this position of meditative effort, one can entrust every problem to the Eternal, waiting patiently for the teaching that will help the need…

    …We do not have to be any kind of special person to receive the Eternal’s Teaching. Nor is it ever far from us. Anyone who has sat down to meditate in some state of confusion about what is truly good to do in a situation, and got up from meditation less confused, has experienced the follow of Wisdom to need. — All we need to do is to settle down, stop running around in our head, and allow the Eternal to get a word in edgewise.”

    How to Grow A Lotus Blossom: Reflections by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

    In a complex world, where there are many difference teachings and many different kinds of suffering, knowing who to listen to, what to practise and what to do can be confusing.  Using these two approaches — careful observation and thought, and developing our connection with ‘The Eternal’ —can help us find our way.