I’m the one who’ll die

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    Dharma Glimpse by Mat Osmond

    From time to time I fall into a pattern of waking around 3am, often when there’s some conflict or turmoil at work in me. I had one of these wakeful nights last week. As I lay there in a familiar pool of unease, an odd thought came to me.

    I’m the one who’ll die.

    Why did that seem to matter? Are there are other I’s, then, besides this one lying here? The answer’s a resounding yes, I think, but what this means exactly feels less clear to me now than it did lying there in the dark. I suppose it had to do with the difference between the selves I perform before one mirror or another, and this person lying here – the one those selves omit to mention or actively conceal.

    Funny how something can make compelling sense in the middle of the night, then you try and say it aloud in the morning and it all feels a bit laboured. But I remembered this night-thought when I saw I was writing this week’s dharma glimpse, mainly because of the curious sense of reassurance or confirmation it brought. Whatever happens, I’m the one who’s going to die here. So things are OK.

    I remember a beautiful passage in Shinman Aoki’s little book, Coffinman: Journals of a Buddhist Mortician, where he recounts a realisation that crept up on him over time as he dressed corpses for traditional Buddhist funerals. Aoki speaks of the deep peace that he began noticing on the faces of the dead. All of them. And as he worked alone with their quiet faces Aoki came to a new understanding of nirvana: as a fulfilment which comes to us all. Not as a result of our striving, nor of what we’ve ‘made of ourselves’. Just, an inescapable homecoming that every death returns us to, whatever sort of life we happen to have lived.

    Lying in the dark what struck me as if for the first time was that every single thing that is ‘me’ will end when I die. That, in a way that requires no shoring-up or work on my part, I am quite literally ‘grasped, never to be forsaken’ by the intimate reality of this. And the intimate presence of my certain death is here already, holding me in measureless being as I lie here.

    As I’ve tried to write down what happened last week another memory has surfaced, and they feel entangled now so I’m to just going to run them together here.

    It’s three and a half years ago. I’m sitting alone at night with my mother-in-law Christine. Already in steep decline, Christine has just found out that she has terminal cancer, with only a few weeks to live. This first night-watch with her is also the first time I’ve seen her since she received this news.

    As we chat about it, Christine says she sometimes wishes she’d paid more attention to the spiritual. ‘You now, going to church and stuff’. We wonder about this together. Supposing she had? Would having done so make any difference at all to what lies immediately before her now? Would her doing that have made where she’s going now any more or less real? It seemed clear to both of us, I think, that it would not. And the deep sense of confirmation I found in this, anyway, feels much the same as the one that came to visit me the other night. Namo Amida Bu.

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    Impermanence & choc chip waffles

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    Dharma Glimpse by Satya

    This morning the view from my office window is spectacular. The sun has laid a strip of electric orange at the horizon, and above it heavy blue-grey clouds hang, edged in pink. As I watch, a plane is rising through the sky, leaving fading contrails behind it.

    I think for a moment about the people on that plane. I am here, typing at my computer, and they are hurtling through the air at five hundred miles an hour. I think about the many times I have flown in the past, and wonder if I will ever fly again. A few years ago I vowed to give up flying as a personal response to the climate crisis. For me, travelling at those speeds is probably a part of my history. More and more of my life is behind me – this is true for all of us, and, over the past few years it has taken on a special significance to me as loved ones have got sick or died, and as I become more conscious of the signs of ageing in my own body. A little arthritis in one finger, minor injuries that take longer to heal. It’s all downhill from here!

    Impermanence. When I look up from my screen again, the plane has gone. The sky has already changed – the clouds are now a dark aubergine purple, and the blue of the sky above them is stronger. There is more light and I can see the frosty vegetable patch more clearly, and a robin resting for a moment on the white plastic chair.

    It is as if the Buddha is offering me a lesson on a vast canvas. Don’t waste your life! Before you know it, dusk will be arriving and your allotted portion of daylight will be over. Enjoy yourself! Learn what you can! Wake up! I try to listen, but it’s difficult for a small ego-laden being such as I. I feel grateful in this moment for Amitabha, and for the Pure Land teachings. I don’t have to do it all alone. I can rely on Amitabha’s vow. I can remember that I am loved and that, if I ask, I will receive help.

    I look out into the sky one more time. It’s daytime now, with white candyfloss clouds and yellow light streaming from the horizon. Next I will bow in gratitude to my golden Buddha, and go and make some breakfast. Waffles with chocolate chips! I will enjoy the taste of every bite.

    Namo Amida Bu.

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    What is leadership?

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    Dharma Glimpse by Katie Cove

    What is Leadership?

    As I sit at my desk before the working day begins and look at the Buddha which guides me through each day, I wonder what challenges I will face. As a new journey and pathway in my life is being built I find myself managing a very busy and large nursery in Cheltenham. I question what leadership means?





    No, Leadership means




    Role modelling

    Keeping others safe

    A leader guides us in the right direction, keeps us safe and makes everyone feel valued and part of a team.

    This is how the Buddha guides me to be a strong leader to have strength and belief in myself and those around me.

    At the end of my working day a little 4-year-old always pops into the office full of awe and wonder at the Buddha on my desk and each evening we have a little chat about the Buddha and what it means to me. The little boy opens his hand to which I place the Buddha for him to touch and hold, his eyes open wide he looks at me and smiles.

    As Buddhists we are all leaders.

    Namu Amida Butsu

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    Why do interfaith work?

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    A Dharma Glimpse by Karmadeva

    Recently I’ve been reflecting on my work and life in general. I worry that I’m not concentrating on the important things; especially in terms of my practice. I do a lot of interfaith work and my concern has been why?

    The reason for my uncertainty is; I had to refuse to take on a mentor role. This was with a student wanting to learn about Pure Land Buddhism. This made me wonder why I’d been attending multi faith events yet not teaching the dharma when the opportunity arises. Much of what I do in terms of inter faith brings me into contact with a lot of people, some very important and high ranking faith leaders, politicians etc. So I then ask the question – is this about my spreading/teaching the Buddhist way, or is it to satisfy my ego?

    Reflecting only raised more questions – why do I attend Islamic, Christian and Jewish events? None of these people are suddenly going to convert. So therefore what have I achieved? Would I have been better off going to meditation at my temple? Attending more Buddhist services? I haven’t visited Malvern for months and my Birmingham dharma friends rarely see me.

    As I had reached a point where the more I looked at these issues my mind raised even more, there were no answers forthcoming. I turned to an old teacher from my vow 22 days and explained my predicament. After several days thinking about my question he said: All practice and all we do is nembutsu, therefore all my work is valid.

    This helps. It tells me that I need to think of my life rather than my work. Is my life balanced? Do I see friends and family enough? Do I have right view right speech and right mind?

    I know I should end with some philosophy on what all this means or answers that I’ve reached. I’m sorry but there is none. My mind still wanders and reflects. I’m full of doubts and restless due to this. Again I think of another teachers words “so this is how it is to be human” the reality is I’m a foolish being. Maybe, as Shinran did, I should just refer to myself as a shaved headed fool. What I hope for is a sign from the universe, but then maybe I’m following that sign already. I hope so.

    Namo Amida Bu. 

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    A foolish being

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    A Dharma Glimpse by Kim Allard

    My husband developed cancer in June of 2021. Between COVID and my husband’s compromised immunity it’s been a long lock down for us both.  Our time is filled with repeating cycles of hope and disappointment.  It’s been a painful lesson in not grasping or becoming attached to a particular outcome.  It’s also a daily lesson in trust that a greater wisdom is at work, beyond the reality of the moment. 

    In troubled times I do my practice reciting Namo Amida Bu knowing the words matter even if I lack the meditative focus I try to bring each time. 

    I know my care giving is an opportunity to be of service, practice compassion and patience.  But from time to time it hits me that my patient is having a bad day and said something that hurt my feelings, the kitchen needs tending the laundry baskets are full and helpers in a rural area face a great demand and are in short supply.  It’s easy in those moments to feel like a complete failure with my practice full of anger, self pity, frustration and disappointment. 

    And then . . .

    Ever so slowly the sun might illuminate one of my Buddhas on my windowsill.  A blue heron may float into our pond  and offer its calm presence and blue color to our winter day. A subtle stirring of our redwood trees and our wind chimes prompt me to sit down amongst the clutter and open one of my books and allow a random choice to appear. I look down to see a Dharma teaching which seems picked for just that moment.  These small moments strung together over my days allow me to know everything will be okay.   Life will go on, the moment will heal because I took a moment of compassion for myself and acknowledged I am a foolish being on a journey of teachable moments and  . . . I will be okay. 

    Namo Amida Bu

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    Water pools

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    A Dharma Glimpse by Utpaladhi

    Water pools on our flat garage roof, and I often look at it through the landing window. Birds like to bathe there, undisturbed by humans. They don’t much care that it’s rather grey and not aesthetically pleasing up there – they enjoy splashing and chattering together. The other night I saw the full moon reflected in the water. The moon itself was rising high in the sky, seemingly far away. But in the water on my garage roof it seemed so close – not just in proximity but close to my everyday domestic life. Sometimes the Buddhas feel so transcendent that they are far away from my everyday life and concerns. I muse on what I need to do to ‘go out there’ and connect with this transcendent force. But then I have a reminder, that my every day is shot through with transcendence and there is no ‘far away’ about it at all. It’s all right here for us to bathe in, as the daytime birds splash about in water that has been moon-bathed night after night. 

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    Dharma Glimpse By Helen

    At the end of 2022 lots of messages were being shared and discussed around finding a word to focus on for 2023. I took some time to consider this as I’ve done this exercise before in years past but somehow it seems particularly poignant for 2023 for me.

    During practise on New Year’s Eve we were challenged to listen out for wisdom from the divine around what would help us in 2023 rather than trying to control our way through a list of material achievements that we could set for ourselves.

    Very quickly a strong sense came to me that my word could be “lightness”.

     So this is my challenge. To hold all impending truths lightly.

    This will be a significant work in progress as it does not come naturally to me. I often overburden and overwhelm myself with fight or flight, black or white, life or death thinking. My nervous system has been shocked to a cinder in 2022 and this year it’s a challenge not to push so hard.

    I think the reason that the temple has had such an ingratiating effect on me is because it feels light. Inside the shrine room feels safe, not in a protectionist loaded way but rather in a freeing, grounding way.

    In 2023 I want more of this.

    More light, more grounding, more space. Less fear response. Less white knuckle death grip. Less absolutes. Impermanence is a gift.

    Namo Amida Bu 

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    Holding it Lightly

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    A Glimpse by Dayamay

    As another New Year comes racing around, and the last one feels like one big blur, I notice that I’m very aware of how much older and fragile I am. Youthful resilience seems to be fading a bit, at least in the physical sense, and I’m much more sensitive to the world. Almost as if I’ve shed some skin, and the rawness and unpredictability of life feels a bit closer. My limitations are more apparent, the relevance of the incessant drive towards accomplishment and success, a bit more distant.

    This is not an uncommon occurence in the life of a religious practitioner. In fact, it can actually be taken as a positive sign of progress that some of the protective layers of our social conditioning have fallen away. The hard, uncompromising edges of who we thought we were, melted in the crucible of suffering, love, experience and practice.

    We are left with a central core of vulnerability, sensitivity and latent spiritual potential. Face to face with our authentic selves, naked in the presence of the light and grace that we call Amida.

    The benefit of being closer to the Buddha counterbalances the drawbacks of being more exposed and sensitive. And I find that the weight of inevitable suffering is easier to hold in the context of the unconditional Love that I feel from Sangha. I’m less reactive, more curious and generally more accepting of the way things are.

    One of the most important teachings that I received, in the earliest days of my journey, as I squared up with the prospect of life on its own terms – was to hold myself more lightly. This sounded a bit obscure at first, but once I got my head around it, it became clear that the general gist was to not take myself too seriously or my suffering too personally. There is a way of being with pain and difficulty that allows it to be what it is, and me to feel it and heal through it, whilst sparing the rest of the world from having to wallow in it as well – as if they haven’t got enough of their own.

    Holding it lightly may sound a bit too easy, like making light of an impossibly difficult task. It might seem like aiming at a small target on a distant horizon. Something to be aspired to in the future – for the new improved me, which, actually, might never come. But my experience has been that when I call on Amida and feel the inspiration that informs change, much of the heavy lifting is done for me, and the burden is lightened, making it possible to function on an even keel and freeing me up to continue the important work that comes with being truly present in an ever changing world.

    Namo Amida Bu.

    Less is More

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    A Dharma Glimpse by Alison

    Written on 8th Dec

    Today is the anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni’s Enlightenment and I’m writing my First Dharma Glimpse.  During this morning’s Nembutsu, I began chanting then suddenly started to laugh.  I don’t really know why, or at least I didn’t.  I looked up at the Buddha and said a rather silly, “Sorry.”  The Buddha smiled back and reminded me that it’s fine to not always take the practice too seriously.  We can bring lightness and humour into what we do.  I said, “Thank you,” and started laughing again, as I realised that on the one hand this seemed really silly, but that this was an important insight and that, at the same time, my Glimpse had been seemingly gifted to me.  I was relieved to have had this inspiration and could use it as my Glimpse.  A little later, the thought that this wasn’t the kind of Glimpse that I’d wanted to write about entered my mind.  I had wanted to write a serious Glimpse, a clever Glimpse, incorporating a message from Manshi Kiyozawa’s book, which I am currently studying, ‘December Fan.’  This ‘gifted Glimpse or insight’ was too short and too simple, not to mention too silly.  It wasn’t enough to meet my high expectations of myself, satisfying my need for perfectionism, especially for my Very First Dharma Glimpse.  Yet the Buddha had taught me that it was enough.  I was reminded just recently, in the aftermath of an intensely stressful move from London to Malvern, that I’d made the decision to adopt a mantra, being ‘Less is Enough.’  I need to go more gently.  I had been partly successful:  my bread not rising for Bodhi Day was enough;  my not saying too much during the Listening Circle was enough;  my stopping after 30 minutes of cleaning the kitchen was enough and my not having been able to prepare responses on others’ book reflections last week was also enough.  So, maybe, writing a short and silly Glimpse, that nevertheless conveyed a good message, that had ‘dropped into my lap’ this morning, would also be enough.  I have typically spent my life with large agendas, requiring me to meet my high standards.  Perhaps my new life at the temple could be a gift of an opportunity to relax, let go, laugh, lighten the load and accept that Amida is smiling at me and has my back.  Amida doesn’t mind if I’m silly and if I do less.  Amida accepts me as I am.  I can simply trust in the process that all will be well, even with less.  Less is Enough.  

    I now remember Kiyozawa implying that responsibilities and commitments (meeting extrinsic demands within his Japanese culture) wasn’t as important as trusting in the ‘Power Beyond the self.’  So, perhaps in future, when I feel inclined to do more and more, I will sit with the Buddha and know that ‘I am enough,’ even when I start to laugh during Nembutsu.  When I can only do less, that the Buddha will still smile at me and I can relax, knowing that Less is Enough.

    “The only thing there can be is gratitude to the Buddha for guiding us….  The Buddha has the sole initiative for whatever we do or do not do.” (Manshi Kiyozawa, December Fan, Chapter 4, page 32).

    “There is no failure for one who trusts in the wondrous working of the Infinite.” (M. Kiyozawa, December Fan, Chapter 5, page 38).