Dharma Glimpse by Paramita
Last weekend I missed out on the Bright Earth Pureland Buddhist Convention, which was held in my hometown and hosted by my home Temple.
It was not my fault and neither can I blame anybody else for this unfortunate state of affairs.
I suffer with Fibromyalgia, which is classed as a “chronic illness” and can prove to be extremely debilitating. Especially while trying to manage low energy levels and high vulnerability to illness in the cold and flu season. In the end I had to choose between spending my energy earning much needed money, or hanging out with my friends and colleagues and discussing important faith related topics.
My condition also inhibits my capacity for being around large crowds of people, especially when they’re all highly competent and successful, which can trigger my sense of lack and intensify the psychosomatic symptoms that come along with lifelong trauma issues.
I’m aware that this all sounds quite heavy and tragic, but I am these days quite well trained in spotting and nurturing the positive embers that glow warm and bright amid the darkness of misfortune and loss.
I knew that my presence here in the Temple could potentially be more of a burden than it usually is, in the give and take sense, or, I could attempt to engage in the communal activities as much as possible, whilst looking after myself compassionately and managing my depleted energy levels realistically.
I was due to cook for the community and so put my heart and soul into the task of feeding my fellow Buddhists as well as I could manage. This was, as usual, partly enjoyable and partly stressful, as I wrestled with the usual obstacles of timing and quantity, which, in my experience, as well as being the most tricky parts, also present the key to a successful meal and happy, well fed people!
I instantly felt better when the meal was received gracefully and gratefully by all, and my guilt and shame about not being able to attend the convention receded somewhat.
The next day I was pretty poorly and barely managed to finish my shift at work before collapsing in a heap and spending the rest of the day horizontal – reading and watching depressing youtube content(I do not recommend the latter!).
I managed to get out for a walk with a friend later that evening, which proved to be just what I had needed.
In the morning I managed to muster up the energy to get to the special Sunday practice session, where I acted as Bellmaster and then took part in reciting a key Pureland text with the Sangha, which once again made me feel connected and, in some way, functional.
The point is that there is always something that we can do to contribute towards the unfolding of the Dharma in and around the drama of our lives. Buddhism is a causative power! Our hearts and minds are intricately embedded in complex systems, which we will influence in one way or another, regardless of our perceived place within them. The attitude that we take towards our suffering can determine the experience that we have with it and also the effect that it has on others.
In Pureland Buddhism we partake of a Great Love, that emanates from and through us, just as a result of being connected to Amitabha Buddha. This means that we all have a place in the great enlightenment experience that constitutes the Pure Land. Whether we’re expounding the wisdom of the Sutras and texts, or making the dinner for our hungry friends!
Namo Amida Bu!
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