Bitter or very fresh?

    Categories: activism

    Today was my hundredth day of sitting an hour’s vigil for the Earth.

    Yesterday’s vigil was awful. I woke late and grumpy, and dragged myself round to the temple car park. It was bitterly cold. My thick mittens couldn’t keep my thumbs from numbing, and my body was getting ready to shiver. Towards the end of the hour the word running through my mind was ‘endurance’.

    Today it snowed on me. Tiny floating specks of white. I opened my eyes for a few seconds and their dancing made me smile. A man said ‘thank you’ as he passed. My thumbs went numb. I was happy.

    Yesterday was bitter and today was very fresh. The temperature was the same, but the weather inside my head was very different.

    Of course, we often have as much influence over the weather inside as we do the weather outside. I’m not saying ‘change your mindset and everything will be fine’.

    On bad-inside-weather days, we might remember to be gentle with ourselves. We might manage to give ourselves free reign with the biscuit tin, or fall asleep for twenty minutes on the sofa between appointments. We might make ourselves a nice cup of tea.

    On good-inside-weather days, we might remember to open ourselves up to glory, to deliciousness, to grace. To the love of all the Buddhas.

    Namo Amitabha <3

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    Less eco-guilt, more eco-joy

    Categories: activism

    by Satya

    I attended an event last night where we were asked to get into pairs and say how we felt about the Climate & Ecological Emergency. I listed fear, frustration, and numbness, but as my partner spoke I realised I hadn’t mentioned the emotion tops my list.

    Guilt. Guilt at buying the pizza wrapped in plastic rather than making our own dough in our perfectly good bread machine. Guilt at driving the dogs to a walk. Guilt at having the heating up so high. Guilt at not donating more of my spare money to buy trees. Guilt at not challenging a colleague who has their facts about the climate crisis all wrong.

    I could go on. You may see the items on my list as trifling matters, but I see them as the exact equivalent of bigger ‘sins’ against our dear Earth – my greed, hate and delusion is the same as the stuff inside the directors of the oil companies, the banks, the governments. I have a smaller-scale life and so I leave a smaller-scale oily footprint, but I’m not innocent.

    What, then, to do about this weight of guilt? This is where the ‘bright’ from our new temple name comes in. We begin by looking at ourselves by the light of the Buddha. This light is soft and kind and wise. It shows up all the hidden wounded parts of us. It shows us how these wounds are fiercely protected by all the parts of us that end up harming ourselves, others and the Earth. It shows us that these parts are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances, and that rather than being ‘lazy’ or ‘cruel’ or ‘weak’ we are

    As we see ourselves in this light, hopefully we also begin to soften. Our guilt transmutes into compassion – no wonder we needed the quick fix of supermarket pizza, no wonder we didn’t speak up to our colleague. Goodness, it’s a miracle that we were able to get up, get dressed and take out the rubbish this morning!

    As my eco-guilt dissolves, there is space for eco-joy. Yes, I’m still sorry about the extra plastic, and maybe next week I’ll manage to make dough, and – look at the frost sparkling in the sun this morning. Listen to that crow’s happy monologue. Look at the shreds of mist draped across the valley.

    Coming into a closer relationship with the Earth and enjoying that relationship is something to be celebrated. Soaking up joy will resource us, and we’ll be more likely to make good choices or take small actions. We’ll also infect others with our love of the planet, who will find themselves naturally wanting to look after her.

    Action motivated by love and joy is powerful. We can make space for everything – the rage, the despair, the sorrow – these feelings all have something to show us. And, if we get stuck in anything, including guilt, we are turning away from the Earth.

    She is beautiful, and she is lit by the love of the Buddhas. Just like us.


    Photo by Simone Busatto on Unsplash

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    The new name for our temple is….

    Categories: newsletters

    The new name for Amida Mandala is… BRIGHT EARTH.

    After stepping back from the Amida Order in November, Kaspa & Satya will continue to run the Malvern temple with a changed name to reflect our heart values.

    ‘Bright’ to signify Amitabha’s golden light, streaming all over everything. To remind us that this light is always present, whether we are able to open our eyes to it or not. To help us to see the world around us as illuminated. 

    ‘Earth’ to remind us of our dependence on this magnificent, beautiful planet. To encourage us to practice outside and in the temple garden. More than anything, to inspire us to take courageous action for the Earth’s behalf – as eco-activists, as individual consumers, speaking up for her, mobilising with others, and living on her as gently as we can. 

    As we move forwards with our new name, lots of things will stay the same. We’ll still offer Buddhist practice twice a week, offer other events and do ministry in the community. We will still be financially and legally supported by the Amida Trust. We will still have the nembutsu as the heart of our practice.

    In other ways, we will be very different. We are no longer members of the Amida Order. Instead we have joined with other Pureland Buddhist teachers to form the Amitabha Fellowship, where we will receive both support and accountability. Our Buddhist practice sessions are simpler. We want to become more accessible, and for it to be easier for people from different walks of life to feel welcome. We feel more able to bring more of ourselves into our work, and into serving our fellow fallible humans. 

    We hope that you’ll come along with us. Whether you read our newsletter, or join us on Zoom, or practice in the temple garden with us, or come and stay in our guest room, we hope that we can continue to reflect some of the light that has been beamed at us over the years. We remain grateful for our time with the Order, and we are excited about a new chapter. 

    Namo Amitabha,
    Satya & Kaspa & all the temple animals
    Blessed by Amitabha’s light
    May we care for all living things
    And the holy Earth

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