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Whispers From The Bamboo Grove, Amida News #50, Bodhi Retreat at Amida Mandala

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      Dear all
      The darkest of time of the year has passed, here in the Northern hemisphere, and now the light is returning. In common with so many others over the millennia, the Amida sangha celebrated their Festival of Light, Bodhi Day, on December 8th.

      Here is some of the news and some special announcements from the Bodhi Retreat held at Amida Mandala, in Malvern. A number of the Shu from the UK and  Europe, along with local Malvern sangha members met together for part or all of the retreat. There was much practice, time for sharing and a number of ceremonies. Wonderful Dharma talks were given by Dharmavidya and Susthama
      – see below for links.

      Satya writes:
      First, Reverend Ananda, of Amida Hawai’i, will be taking over as editor of the Amida ‘Running Tide’ magazine. This is the first time ‘Running Tide’ has been edited outside the UK and, as Dharmavidya said, this is an important new phase in our wonderfully international Order. I am sure that Ananda will be in touch in due course to say more. Thanks again to  Sanghamitra for all his hard work of editing since he took over from Kaspa.

      The second is that, after decades of accompanying Dharmavidya from the very first Ordination, Acharya Modgala is stepping back from being Deputy Head of the Order and, as such, Dharmavidya has bestowed a new title upon her: Mahasiddha. He says that this is a title conferred on teachers who, after running temples and doing marvellous things, retreat to a cave somewhere and continue to practice. A huge thank you to Modgala for all her hard work for the Dharma over the years. Modgala isn’t going anywhere and we hope that she will continue enjoying her new adventures!

      The third is that Acharya Susthama has become promoted to Deputy Head of the Order. There was a very touching moment in which Modgala passed on a ceremonial wagessa from the early days to Susthama as a way of passing on the Dharma and the role. I’m sure you’ll all join me in welcoming Susthama to her new position. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! ~ Satya

      *****

      The following people were admitted into Amida Shu – several of the children of Shu members and adults Lorraine (Lolly) McGregor, John Croxon and Rob Waldron, who also became an Aspirant.

      *****

      On the morning of 10th December there were the following Ordination Ceremonies:
      1: Sanghamitra was confirmed in his vocation and, having been a Gankonin, is now a Minister, with a full Minister’s robe. His name means ‘friend of the sangha’ – very apt.
      2: Kusumavarsa has ordained as a Gankonin (having stepped aside for a while). Her name is ‘rain of blossoms’. When  Mara sent arrows towards Shakyamini, he was able to transform them into flowers. So, Kusuma, with the adversities she faces – transforming them into the nectar of the Dharma.
      3: Emma has been ordained as a Gankonin and is now known as: Khemaśālinī (English spelling Khemashalini)
      Khema – ‘peaceful, safe, tranquil, calm’, śālinī – ‘(f) possessing, abounding in, full of, endowed with’. She can be called Khema for short.

      4: Kaspalita has been recognised by Dharmavidya as an Acharya, a senior teacher with the Order. In addition to running Amida Mandala with Satya, his particular responsibility is the education and support of Aspirants – those training towards ordination on the Amida Ministry path. He is Jissha to Sujatin.

      *****

      Here is Acharya Susthama’s Pastoral letter from Bodhi Day:

      Dear friends,

      Happy Bodhi Day! Phase one of Christmas is now done and dusted and we are now on to the next festive period.

      I thought that I would re-kindle the idea of occasional pastoral letters that Dharmavidya used to write to the Amida Shu about a decade ago as a gentle way for me to start to get used to my new role as deputy Head of the Order.  He would send out a message of hope and love to all of us walking along this path. Some of us were living together under the same roof and practicing as a full training community which we referred to as a monastery without walls while others were half way across the world, on their own, with one or two people, or somewhere in between doing ministry work in a developing country, and every now and then these letters would provide inspiration and connection. Reminding us that we are all links in Amida’s golden chain, so that no matter where we were, we were never really on our own.

      We are very blessed to have Dharmavidya back to his old healthy self. He has spent a full year on retreat, in his hermitage in France recovering from his illness.

      His first assignment abroad was to teach his South Korean students Buddhist psychology and although he was a bit nervous about working with a group of students after a hiatus it was probably the best course yet. So much so that they have asked him to return and teach every August for the next three years.

      His next engagement was the ITZI conference in Belgium which, due to great efforts by Jnanamati and other members of the organising group, attracted a wonderful collection of presenters from many countries including Russia, China, USA and Israel as well as many parts of Europe. We are hoping to hold the next one in two years time. probably in Netherlands.

      Then Dharmavidya came to Amida Mandala Temple in the UK for the Bodhi gathering. I call it gathering rather than retreat because it felt more like a reunion between friends and with all the ceremonies and announcements there was a lot of celebrating. The temple is thriving and attracting more and more locals which is not surprising given the vows that Acharya Kaspalita, and Reverend Satya made when taking on the temple. We are definitely at a point where there is a strong core of people spread out all around the world  spreading Amida’s message and engaging with our three slogans: Resist oppression, Assist the afflicted, and Demonstrate an alternative (RAD).

      Amida Hawai’i deserves a bit of spotlight given their steadfast dedication in making their faith manifest as socially engaged Buddhism. They have a group of young Buddhists, known as Bodhi Buds, and a big congratulations to Ananda, who has taken on The Running Tide as editor (from Sanghamitra), and who is working with others to try and eradicate homelessness on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

      Keeping in touch with the wider international sangha, I also recently had some lovely Skype chats with Vimalishri and Pundarika in Israel, and Prajnatara in Canada, whose connection with Amida by a very strong chain link is as close as when I first met them at the Buddhist House 10 years or so ago. I’d also like to send greeting to our friends in India who I have not had the opportunity to meet yet: Suvidya and the sangha in Delhi and Siddhartha and the group in Bangalore. How admirable taking on the task of restoring Buddhism in the birth country! It has come full circle. So we have many links in the golden chain, not only with each other around the world, but to all the Buddhas of the past, present and future.

      There isn’t space here to mention everybody, but it is a great experience to be part of this wonderful sangha in which we all help each other and support one another in the light of Amida.

      Go well this festive season and be blessed and full of joy.

      Love and Namo Amida Bu,

      Acharya Susthama
      Deputy Head of the Order
      Jissha to Dharmavidya

      *****
      :: The Bodhi Retreat Talk by Head of the Amida Order, Dharmavidya David Brazier
      ***
      :: The Bodhi Day Talk by Deputy Head of the Amida Order, Acharya Susthama 
      *****
      Warmest of wishes to you all
      ~ Acharya Sujatin

      Namo Amida Bu

      :: link

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