Dharma Glimpse by Philip
I was driving down to the temple recently in my slightly battered, but beloved, Twingo. It has a temperamental and capricious CD player (yes, it is pretty old!). I kinda love that about it. Choice isn’t always a good thing in my opinion and when a CD finally works it feels more joyous than being able to play whatever I want all the time. I’m not particularly in to Bob Dylan, but I stumbled across an old ‘Best of’ CD which I threw into it which miraculously worked. It played ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ before unceremoniously, and loudly, spitting it out! Bless it!
A couple of days later I was walking in the Malvern Hills. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon. It felt good to be alive. I was blessed to have spent some time with much valued templemates, and temple dogs, in the hills over the previous couple of days. I was now blessed to be spending some time with myself. Coming down the path towards St Anne’s Well I was taken by the trees swaying gracefully in the light breeze. Their luscious, beautiful green leaves being thrust towards the sky from their trunk and branches to bask in the sun’s rays whilst their deep, sinuous roots would have quietly and imperceptibly grown over many years to give them the necessary stability and provision of other life-sustaining nutrients. I remembered the Bob Dylan lyric “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind”.
If not THE answer, maybe trees can tell me quite a bit about the dharma I thought. I remember a friend told me “trees are our munda”, meaning trees are our temples. I wondered if we need to quietly, humbly cultivate our spiritual roots in order to catch the light of Amida. Or perhaps the light of Amida helps us cultivate our spiritual roots of being connected to something deeper and life sustaining. Maybe it is a symbiotic relationship (always wanted to use that term as it sounded clever when I heard people using it!). Maybe Western spirituality and the self-help culture frequently promotes the equivalent of the leaves basking in the sun, rather than the less glamorous work of immersing oneself, and growing, in the soil and earth.
I feel lucky to have come across Pureland Buddhism. I confess when I first entered the temple I did not understand how it differed from other branches (pun intended) of Buddhism. I’m slowly learning it seems to emphasise the importance of immersing, or ‘transdescending’, oneself in the soil of life rather than trying to transcend it. That the soil, sometimes seen as just ‘dirt’, gives the same life-sustaining nutrients as the sun. Whatever you take ‘life’ to be. And the soil is also fed by the sun. It is all interconnected.
Namo Amida Bu
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