September 18, 2019 at 3:07 pm #3598
Acharya Kaspalita (temple host)Keymaster
I have a very slow project of writing about what we value here at the temple. A few weeks ago I wrote a little about honesty. Today I want to say something about tradition.
What do I mean by tradition? That our way of doing things has a deep connection and respect for how things have been done before us. What does this mean in practice? It means that the services here at the temple are more or less the same as the services I took part in when I arrived at The Buddhist House thirteen years ago, as a postulant. It means that some of the words we use in our services go back hundreds of years, and some go back more than two thousand years.
Why do we value tradition? It gives us a shared language with other people, both in our small Amida-Shu community and in the wider community of Buddhists around the world. It gives us a sense of connection right back to the founders of our tradition, and most importantly it is a container.
When I used to run drama workshops the most difficult instruction I could give was, ‘improvise something.’ When anything is possible it is difficult to move at all. When I drew a chalk square on the stage and said, ‘stay inside these lines’ something creative happened. This is the value of a container.
When we come and practice together we walk in the same circle, chant the same melodies and say the same words. The consistency of that form reveals our aliveness, as each time we come to service we find that we are different. That we feel and think differently. I am reminded of Jiyu Kennett’s comment about zazen, “It’s just you and the wall, and there’s nothing wrong with the wall… ”
In our Pureland services it’s just us and the Buddha. Following the traditional forms there is nothing to distract us from our nembutsu practice. All that’s here is either me, or the Buddha.
September 24, 2019 at 2:24 pm #3608
Andrew Cheffings (temple host)Participant
Great! Thank you, Kaspa.
Namo Amida Bu!
October 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm #3633
Thank you for sharing!
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