...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... August 5, 2003
Purer Instinct: Ethical Sensibility ...by
2. All Embacing Urge ...by Srimati
3. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Amida Trust
4. Book / Movie Review: Brother
Sun, Sister Moon (Movie-1973)
...The Life and Times of St. Francis of Assisi
Purer Instinct: Ethical Sensibility ...by Vidyadevi
whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an Instant's
truce between virtue and vice. (Henry Thoreau)
as long as I can remember I have been haunted by the terrible
gap between who I would like to be and who I am. To mark the
occasion when I first made a formal commitment to the Buddhist
path, a friend gave me a reproduction of William Blake's painting,
'The Good And Evil Angels Battling For Possession Of A Child'.
It seemed apt. I had learnt by then that the Buddhist conception
of ethical life, expressed in its precepts or training principles',
involved neither fear of authority nor hope of divine grace,
but an awareness of personal responsibility; that 'actions have
consequences' - for oneself, for others, for the world.
had a dim perception that many of the dilemmas that troubled
me had more to do with my concern to seem 'good' in the eyes
of those upon whose approval my sense of self-worth depended
than with any particular love of virtue or conviction that what
I did mattered. Though, of course, the first glimmerings of
that love, that conviction, were there.
in the sky, nor in the midst of the sea nor yet in the clefts
of the mountains, nowhere in the world (in fact) is there any
place to be bound where, having entered, one can abide free
froin (the consequences of) one's evil deeds' (Dhammapada)
struggle to be 'good' was real, as I realised then and have
realised more fully since. It is as though an ancient battle
is to be fought again on the field of one's life, the archetypal
struggle of light against darkness, whose secret skirmishes
show themselves daily in the small choices one makes, and the
things one does without ever realising that a choice has been
made. Buddhism is popularly believed to offer a path of personal
choice - this is what makes it so appealing - and it is true
that it does. But the consequences of our choices, and the difficulty
of choosing wisely, are not to be underestimated.
Dhammapada, one of the earliest Buddhist texts, speaks the uncompromising
language of good and evil, wisdom and foolishness, heaven and
hell. It is made utterly clear that there are ethical lines
to be drawn, that it matters very much where they are drawn,
and that we ourselves must decide where to draw them.
have wanted to shrink away from a literal understanding of the
hells described - no less luridly than in the hellfire-and-brimstone
sermons of my Methodist youth - in Buddhist tradition; and the
thought that Buddhist hells are impermanent rather than eternal
is not much comfort. I prefer a more psychological reading of
the states of heaven and hell - the perception that, as the
poet John Milton says,
mind is its own place, and of itself
make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven'.
leaves me with the sobering truth that my mind, my heart, is
'where all the ladders start', in WB Yeats' phrase.
is important to be sure within oneself whether one is really
leading a moral life or just respecting the prejudice of the
group within which one happens to be.' (Sangharakshita)
order to be the person I want to be, I must strive, hourly,
against the drag of the others. (Mary Oliver, 'Sand Dabs
precepts the Buddha taught fractalled even during his lifetime
into hundreds of rules dealing with the minutiae of behaviour,
a kind of Buddhist case law. Perhaps it is easier to live by
rules than to have the responsibility of deciding for oneself
the ethical status of one's actions, but the point of any guidelines
or precepts is to give us a feeling for how to live a life that
is inevitably unprecedented. All our lives we are preparing
to deal with circumstances which have not happened and which
are different - even if subtly - from anything previously experienced.
of course, this is true in the extreme. I sometimes wonder how
I would respond if I suddenly found myself a refugee, or the
target of religious persecution, or the victim or even the perpetrator
of war - or in the position of giving my life to save a friend.
If I think none of these is likely to happen, I then realise
that probably those who find themselves in such circumstances
didn't expect it either. And, of course, we are all in the position
of knowing that sooner or later we will have to face the unknown,
however predictable, circumstance of our own death.
would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between
each of us, and everything else, and that our dignity and our
chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are
a family; and there is no decency or sense in honouring one
thing, or a few things, and closing the list. The pine tree,
the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves - we are at risk
together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together.
We are each other's destiny.' (Mary Oliver, 'Winter Hours')
attempt to live ethically is made in the dark. Try to trace
the significance of a course of action and you are lost in a
cloud of ignorance almost straightaway. This is true of our
choices as consumers - more and more so in the context of globalisation
- and as lovers, parents, friends and workers. Every day we
make thousands of decisions: what to say, what to buy, even
what to wear, at whose effects we can only guess. We can think
of the statement 'actions have consequences', which seems rather
abstract and impersonal, in more immediate terms: 'what I do
matters'. But it still doesn't always feel that way. It is even
natural to believe the opposite: 'what I do doesn't matter'.
is especially true when one tries to connect with the ethical
issues affecting the global community. More than ever we need
to learn how to choose wisely in every area of life: ecology,
economics, technology, medicine. I was horrified to hear on
the radio a scientist confidently stating that with the knowledge
of technological advances would come the wisdom to know how
to use them. How naive. Ethical dilemmas are becoming increasingly
complex, and without clear thinking, honesty about motivations,
and willingness to look beyond short-term interests, we will
not survive, the earth will not survive.
surely has a part to play in developing a sense of responsibility
that has nothing to do with belief in God but everything to
do with what, as human beings, we are capable of. Even the decisions
of nations - perhaps more to the point, multinationals - depend
on personal ethical sensibility. And our own efforts, small
though they may seem, do - we have to believe - make a difference.
know this. How can we learn to feel it? And how do we decide
what to do when we feel it? One could say that the purpose of
ethical precepts is to help us to cultivate this instinct for
what to do, and especially to distinguish that instinct from
all the other promptings that influence us consciously or unconsciously.
In my personal mish-mash of longings, good intentions, rationalisations,
fears, injunctions, ideas, impulses and intuitions, what can
I trust to give me a true sense of direction? I want to call
this feeling 'ethical sensibility'. The relevant definitions
of sensibility here would be 'capacity for refined emotion',
and, 'readiness to feel compassion for suffering'.
you do not as yet see beauty within you, do as the sculptor
of the statue that is to be beautified. He cuts here, he smooths
there, he makes this line lighter, that one purer, until he
disengages beautiful lineaments in the marble. Cut away all
that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light
to all that is overcast. Never cease working until there shines
out from you the divine sheen of virtue and goodness.' (Plotinus,
ethical sensibility includes the attributes of an increasingly
refined and subtle consciousness: an aesthetic sense, awareness,
scrupulousness, refinement, sensitivity, purity, clarity, grace.
And conscience. The Abhidharmists (who could be described as
the first Buddhist psychologists) identified a quality they
called hri as a natural aspect of any wholly positive state
of mind. It literally means 'to blush' and is translated as
'a sense of shame'. 'self-respect', or most simply, 'conscience'.
Hri protects us from doing harm by reminding us that to act
in this way would not be in accordance with our fundamental
desire for happiness and our natural solidarity with other beings.
it is transparent enough the light of wisdom may shine through
this clear and refined mind - a clear conscience, one might
say. Such a mind, such a heart, is developed through scrupulous
attention to the ethical details of one's life, and to one's
mental states, as well as through confession, spiritual friendship,
the arts, devotion, study, meditation and reflection.
are the traditional lineaments of the Buddhist life, and the
qualities that are developed might be described as angelic.
But a life that was very angelic might not be very human. One
might end up feeling distaste for the raw, less refined character
of human experience. One might become so sensitive that engagement
with the world simply feels too painful and ugly. One might
become so scrupulous in regard to one's own behaviour as to
be unforgiving and intolerant of other people's. Or one might
feel so far removed from basic human experience that one could
no longer connect with it. I am remembering the angels in Wim
Wenders' film 'Wings of Desire', who were sensitive to the human
beings around them but unable to intervene in their world or
help them in any way.
is also the possibility of complacency. Traditional Buddhist
descriptions of 'heavens' and their inhabitants, the 'shining
ones' (called devas and devis) suggest that one can find oneself
in a refined and blissful sphere of existence through the performance
of good deeds. But one is in danger - because one's state is
so blissful - of relaxing the effort to be ethical, and little
by little losing that blissful experience and crashing into
the hellish experience of life without it.
heaven we forget hell exists and vice-versa. To live a truly
human life, we need to be aware that 'joy and pain are woven
fine'. Kathleen Raine, discussing William Blake's illustration
of the good and evil angels, says that, 'The figures may illustrate
an idea taken from Blake's admired spiritual master jakob Boehme,
who describes the impassable barrier that divides the principles
of Heaven and Hell as a 'blindness' which prevents the devils
from seeing the things of Heaven, or the angels those of Hell.
Even though their worlds should occupy the same place, they
are in states of Being which cannot meet.' Surely one sees this
happening on any city street - worlds co-existing but never
one's refined sensibility to meet and deal creatively with an
unrefined, raw and chaotic world - and with the unrefined aspects
of one's own nature - one needs other qualities: understanding,
imagination, generosity of spirit, the ability to act quickly
and decisively, maturity, robustness, forbearance, a sense of
being connected to others. These, too, are Buddhist virtues,
though they are perhaps less stereotypical. They are expressed
particularly forcefully through the images of the Tantric tradition
and through some of the archetypal Bodhisattvas, such as Kshitigarbha
who vowed to rescue beings from hell. All these human qualities,
which are developed through communication, friendship, work,
action and the everyday encounters of life, finally bear fruit
as the enlightened quality of Compassion.
does not choose its own uses. It goes out to everything equally,
circling rabbit and hawk. Look: in the iron bucket, a single
nail, a single ruby - all the heavens and hells. They rattle
in the heart and make one sound.' (Jane Hirshfield, 'Late
anukampa cannot be 'adopted' by a simple rational decision.
It involves a gradual emotional realignment and must be cultivated
slowly'. (Damien Keown, 'The Nature of Buddhist Ethics')
word in the Pali language that is generally translated as compassion
is anukampa, which is derived from a verb meaning to shake with,
or to tremble with. Ethical sensibility involves such sympathy
and solidarity with all those beings caught, as we ourselves
are, in the predicaments of life.
danger is that we will be overwhelmed by suffering. The quest
for truth and beauty can seem pointless, even callous, in the
face of the harsher facts of life. For me the word that combines
the subtlety and refinement of the ethical sense with its open-hearted
courage is tenderness. with the development of a tender conscience
comes the sense that even the small things one does - thoughts
as well as actions and words - really matter. At the same time
one feels increasing tenderness towards all beings, and towards
the world in which we live.
feel tenderness in my hands as well as my heart. It is a felt
experience that demands expression. It is the essence of metta,
the loving-kindness that the Buddha described as being like
the love a mother feels for her only child. We should not distance
ourselves from this image. A gap can all too easily develop
between reality and the metaphors used [to describe it. Perhaps
for once we can allow ourselves to take something literally.
life cannot be lived by precept; but only by constant awareness
in itself. (John Keats)
have tried to give a sense of a sensibility that is somehow
both angelic and human. I confess I am on the side of the angels.
If I need to learn how to meet the darkness with courage and
tenderness, I also need to live in the light, even in a world
full of shadows. I think this is true for all of us. Preservation
of life means nothing without a sense of what life is for -
to transcend the darkness, or even the distinction between darkness
remember one morning in winter: beyond the lawn grey and white
with frost, the dark loch - deep water, still air. So little
movement anywhere, it is as though time is suspended. Then,
briefly, a change. Over the water, so close to it they are reflected
perfectly in that dark mirror, fly three white swans, necks
stretched straight, wings rising and falling in unison.
as suddenly they are gone. But the image stays in my mind's
eye. I'm on retreat; there is time to consider what things mean.
For a long time I wonder what it is that has moved me so deeply.
Something more than beauty. I am no visionary, but it is as
though I have seen a vision.
an answer did present itself. The swans were, I thought, messengers,
reminders of the threefold purity of body, speech and mind.
Now, when I think of what it is to live an ethical life, I think
not just of all the decisions I have to make today, and all
the amends I have to make for what I foolishly did yesterday,
and all my intentions for tomorrow, but of those swans. Pure
whiteness, clear reflection, sureness of flight, freedom of
course! the path to heaven doesn't lie down in flat miles. It's
in the imagination with which you perceive this world, and the
gestures with which you honour it. Oh. what will I do, what
will I say, when those white wings touch the shore?' (Mary
Oliver, 'The Swan')
2. All Embacing Urge ...by Srimati
has opened up a new emotional realm for Srimati. But how to
love wholeheartedly and continually let go is the ground of
her daily practice
the odds and ahead of hard evidence, I instinctively knew that
I was pregnant. As I lay in the bath there was something magical
in the air. I found myself, hand on belly, making a heartfelt
pledge in a tender whisper : "If you're there, you're welcome
and I'll do my best for you." This was the beginning of
the greatest love of my life. One week into my relationship
with this unknown, unexpected being I was howling with an ancient
grief as I bled, and feared it was over. The pain of that love
had also made itself felt.
all was well, and that feeling of love and pain gathered substance
during the months of pregnancy My body surrendered more and
more to its task, and love for my unborn became increasingly
tangible with the growth of the life in my belly. So did the
fears. Dreams of the coming birth were mostly beautiful, but
my heart was full of the fragility of human life. I felt I would
do anything to protect this life inside me, and yet there was
so little I could do to ensure its wellbeing. That was ultimately
out of my hands. Even before my child was born I was learning
that maternal love means letting go.
spent an unforgettable night bringing my son into the world.
In the calm and comfortable aftermath of that struggle, I lay,
stung awake by wonder, gazing at him. The blacks of his eyes
shone in the dark, peacefully apprehending his new world as
he lay between us, his parents, the very flesh that had created
him. A few days earlier I'd dreamt I was begging a Nazi soldier
not to shoot me, to give me one more week so I could see the
face of my unborn child. Becoming a mother has shown me that
the death of a child is the cruellest loss imaginable.
a practising Buddhist, such strong feelings have raised many
questions for me. What gives rise to such powerful and self-sacrificing
maternal love? To what extent does this love help or hinder
us in living a spiritual life?
Buddhists claim parenthood is unhelpful from a spiritual point
of view, partly because it opens you up to such incredible attachment.
It is generally true that the more emotionally involved you
are with someone, the more you are liable to be caught in attachment.
At worst this can mean limiting, insecure ways of relating,
and unhealthy dependence. Attachment is difficult to recognise
and can be easily rationalised as something less selfish. For
a Buddhist, however, identifying and uprooting this clinging
is the very heart of practice and for a Buddhist parent it is
certain Buddhist traditions take the image of maternal love
as a metaphor to describe metta, universal loving-kindness:
a mother watches o'er her child,
Her only child, so long as she doth breathe,
So let one practise unto all that live
Metta Sutta, trans. Sangharakshita)
especially early parenting, can seem incomparably unselfish
- but is it really? What enables such incredible resources to
be unstintingly roused in the service of another human being?
Perhaps it is because there is cellular identity with the child,
especially in the mother's case: "My child is me".
There is quite a leap between this and the empathetic identification
of a Bodhisattva, the embodiment of compassion, with all living
beings; but it is a powerful analogy.
have come to value the power and vitality of maternal love and
motherhood has given me a depth of experience that enriches
my spiritual life. I have contacted a huge reservoir of passionate
love for my son such as I have never experienced before. Most
parents speak of this kind of love for their children. I prefer
to see parental love as a spiritual opportunity. The answer
is not to back away from the strength of that love, but to dwell
deeply in it; to penetrate its nature and the nature of that
which you love.
a parent you have almost no choice but to love your child passionately,
and this demands that you find the same intensity of wisdom.
The more your heart is open, the more you can allow any wise
reflections to touch you and let them transform you.
story of Kisa Gotami is probably my favourite from the Buddha's
life. Kisa Gotami comes to the Buddha cradling her dead child.
She is a little crazed, and cannot accept that her child is
dead. She has heard the Buddha is a great man, a great healer,
and begs him to provide medicine for her 'sick' child. The Buddha
replies that he will help her. She must find a mustard seed
as medicine, but there is one condition: it must come from a
household that has not known death.
Gotami sets out on her quest, knocking at doors. Those who greet
her are happy to give her a mustard seed, but shake their heads
when they hear of the condition. "The living are few, but
the dead are many" kisa Gotami cannot find a house in which
no one has died, and gradually a new perspective dawns. She
sees the universality of death and this allows her to acknowledge
what has happened. She buries her child, returns to the Buddha,
and commits herself to the spiritual life.
Gotami 'wakes up' during her quest. She sees that death and
loss are universal, so she can finally grieve and let go of
her child. This is a deeper engagement with life and death that
sees it in a spiritual perspective. In accepting the death of
her child, Kisa Gotami gains insight into the nature of human
life. Obviously this is challenging ground. Kisa Gotami had
the Buddha's help. But it is not that she stopped loving, just
that her love was placed in a much vaster context.
prospect of loving every being like one's only child is awesome."
Buddhist texts dwell on the mother-child relationship in many
ways to evoke the intensity of love that human beings are capable
of. The difficulty lies in transforming exclusive love into
one that includes all beings. The prospect of loving every being
like one's only child is awesome, but life offers glimpses of
such an experience. For example when one grieves the death of
a loved one, the combination of feelings arising from a personal
loss, with an acknowledgement of the universality of death,
can open up an intense love for all humanity.
comes with realising that all beings will one day share this
moment in their own way. Similarly, dying people sometimes reach
a serenity where they accept impending death and are imbued
with a sublime love for their family and for life itself - as
if only this fullness of love is more important and powerful
than death itself.
the years I have thought a great deal about the nature of human
love, ordinary human affection and intimacy with all its imperfections.
It is this middle ground between the lofty climes of metta and
the grip of unconscious attachment that I am interested in -
that is where many of us stand for much of our lives.
I first became involved in Buddhism I latched on to the notion
of non-attachment because I was hurt by loss and death. I was
19 and didn't know myself well. Although fairly bright and positive
on the surface, I was unconsciously on the run from painful
experiences. My adolescence had ended abruptly with my father's
illness and death and I had witnessed the agony my mother suffered
in losing him. I felt mature beyond my years, and the world
of teenage rebellion became meaningless.
too, did my relationship with my first love, who had recently
held such passion and promise for me. I had thought he was my
soul-mate, the man I'd spend my life with. But my need for him
melted away and I felt strangely alone. Suddenly, I found myself
telling him it was over and telling my mother that I was leaving
a few months, my inner searching brought me to Glasgow Buddhist
Centre, and I instantly recognised I had found the means to
understand life and death that had been invisibly beckoning
ever since I can remember. Although my response to the Dharma
was largely sincere, I misconstrued some of what I learnt. While
I rejoiced in my fortune at having come across the Buddhist
path so young and unencumbered, I did not realised how much
emotional backlog I had to deal with. It was during this initial
phase that I developed a sort of defended pseudo-independence
and fooled myself that I was free of attachments.
meditation and spiritual friendship sorted me out. I threw myself
into the spiritual life, and moved to the London Buddhist Centre
where I could participate in more intensive situations for practice,
and be around more experienced Buddhists. Meditating every day,
living in community with other Buddhists and working in a Buddhist
Right Livelihood business was like being in a hall of mirrors.
Everywhere I looked, my being was reflected back. There was
no escape. So the pain of what I had been running from caught
up with me. It was a journey into the underworld and I came
more deeply into relationship with the love and pain that had
been stirred by these losses.
I've found that non-attachment is about loving deeply."
fully grieving, in opening up my heart to what had happened,
the psuedo-independence crumbled. I was heartbroken, and from
that broken heart a bigger heart was released. I began to see
that non-attachment was not about holding back, being self-contained
and trying to limit the inevitable emotional damage that comes
through being in relationship with people. Ironically, I've
found that non-attachment is about loving deeply, letting my
love flow, admitting how much friends, family and partner matter.
It involves being willing to love them, give myself to them,
even though we will one day be parted. There's nothing we can
do to stop death, to end separation. Non-attachment means being
prepared to take the pain of losing loved ones because the sheer
experience of love is worth it.
attitude to love began to change as I acknowledged the truth
of impermanence, and the inevitability of the suffering implicit
in loving. From feeling I made myself vulnerable by loving,
I began to experience a greater robustness in my love. What
did I really have to lose? I started to see love as giving rather
than losing myself. Really to love I must be prepared to give
everything and let go of everything. I must learn to release
my love, love for its own sake, with no desire for a secure
than a decade later, with a partner and a four-year-old son,
those ponderings have a new arena. The issues of attachment
are different. I cannot choose whether or not to love my son,
whether it is safe to invest emotional energy in him. It is
absolutely what I must and will do. I am only beginning the
journey of loving as a mother, and every time I think I have
understood what is involved, it changes.
yet I sense that the lessons of this decade are the same. Only
insight into to my son's true nature, indeed into human nature
in general, can free me from attachment. Every so often a tragic
news story rips through the day-to-day illusion that this love
is forever, never to be disturbed by accident, illness, separation.
I do not want to have to face what Kisa Gotami experienced in
order to wake up to the human situation, but I do want to wake
up. I want to feel unbounded love that is passionate, full and
with the tension of loving fully and letting go is not easy.
It involves simultaneously holding two apparent opposites. But
hopefully the tension will allow a larger perspective to emerge.
In the meantime I feel it is the only option. Love is not about
binding another or oneself to a status quo because of insecurity.
That is essentially an impossible task: things change, like
it or not. It means stand on a deeper, spiritual knowledge.
To love fully is to open oneself to the truth of the human condition.
Trust ...Order of Amida Buddha
The Buddhist House
12 Coventry Road
Narborough LE19 2BR
mission is to create a network of teams of people, caring for
one another and working together to create the Buddha Land here
in this world. Such people need both faith and training. Faith
sustains us and clarifies our purpose. Training equips us to
work without ego-centric considerations getting in the way too
much. This is our response to the Buddha's call to serve all
a world where faith is often scoffed at, we are people of faith.
In a world where individuals are frequently powerless, we rely
upon the collective power of following the spirit of the Buddha's
vows together. In a world where all are exhorted to consumerism,
we are cultivating a simpler life dedicated to serving others.
In accordance with the fundamental teachings of Pure Land Buddhism,
we have chosen the foolish way.
be fully expressed, Buddhism requires poetry. The highest art
is the art of living. In Sukhavati we will say beautiful words
and hear beautiful sounds. One cannot make it one's mission
to generate poetry, but perhaps no mission is fully human without
waiting for life
Seeing it slip slip away
Waiting for Godot
Waiting for whoso we may
The only time is today.
They rise and they fall
Unheeding that sweet faint call
But just as it is
Just exactly as you are
gate welcomes all
Order of Amida Buddha is a new foundation within the Pure Land
tradition. Buddha gave up his palace and dedicated himself to
the good of the people. He called others to help him in this
great work. Buddha's teachings of ethics and compassion have
wide social as well as personal implications. The Buddhist life
implies concern for the wellbeing of all sentient beings in
practical as well as spiritual ways. This means concern for
society and for the environment. To sustain a life of service,
however, is an act of faith. To do so without the danger of
burnout requires humility about oneself and the capacity to
work together with others - to be part of a sangha dedicated
to a similar vision. Faith and engagement inform one another
and deepen our lives.
have established a training community in the centre of England
and a retreat house in the centre of France. These are the base
camps where people can receive their training, find and deepen
their faith, and learn to work as a team. They are also the
places we come back to after going forth into the world. This
is similar to how the Buddha's disciples operated 2500 years
also have members in many localities who are activists offering
ministry, co-ordinating activities, and becoming cells for the
Dharma revolution across the land. Local members and groups
can not only support the work of the Order, but can be the coalface
workers, developing new initiatives and co-ordinating engaged
Buddhist activity in their area. We strive to achieve good working
relationship with other Buddhist groups, other faith communities
and other groups working for similar social purposes. The vision
of a better world is not exclusive.
are opposed to war, cruelty, torture and oppression and to all
use of religion to justify conflict, violence or social stigma.
We oppose the manufacture, holding and use of lethal weapons.
We work for peace and we will support those of any faith who
work for peace. We believe in the complete separation of religion
and state and we believe in freedom of religion.
community at Narborough is a residential training centre for
people who wish to enter sincerely into the Buddhist path in
the style of our practice. We follow the interpretation of Pure
Land teachings advanced by Buddhist Teacher Dharmavidya David
Brazier, and we also value debate, critique, study and creative
thought. Following a teacher is an inspiration not a straight
follow a Buddhist practice the central element of which is to
keep the Buddha in mind at all times. It is the Buddha's vision
that guides us and we are working to deepen our appreciation
of his work in the world, his presence in our lives, and his
wide-ranging compassion. We are working together to contribute
to the realisation of his vision.
Order is spponsored by the Amida Trust, a charitable (i.e. non-profit)
body registered in England to advance the contemporary relevance
is it for?
Trust is - a haven, meeting point and spring-board for writers,
thinkers, artists, activists, psychologists, therapists, students
and other similarly concerned people who see Buddhism's potential
as an influence for peace, culture, and community, for social
and personal enlightenment:
a Buddhist practice centre offering opportunities for Dharma
training, study and retreats
a college for attendance and distance learning courses in Buddhist
psychology and contemporarily relevant Buddhist studies
a ginger group within the wider Buddhist community generating
new thinking and challenging out-dated notions and mal-practice
a place to study and debate the meaning of Buddhist texts, practices
and principles and to apply them in practice
a community engaged in Buddhism "on the streets" applying
the principles of universal compassion in practical day to day
a religious order for those with a serious long term commitment
to the Dharma to train and live together working for the good
of all sentient beings.
is based at The Buddhist House at Narborough in Leicestershire.
We also have a house in London and a retreat centre in France.
We support linked projects in Zambia and in India. Many European
countries have Amida members and we are in touch with many individuals
around the world.
you are concerned about the world, something of a free thinker,
but, nonetheless, serious in your commitment to the Buddha's
vision of enlightened compassion then Amida may well be the
place for you.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon (Movie-1973)
...The Life and Times of St. Francis of Assisi
Reviewer: from Boulder, Colorado USA... This is a wonderful
movie!! Graham Faulkner was PERFECT in the part of St. Francis
and truly expressed both the joy and singlemindedness of purpose
that Francis experienced. I love when he climbed on the rooftop
to hold a bird!!He gave so much insight into the spiritual revelations
of St. Francis! And Judy Bowker did a wonderful job of expressing
both the piety and innocence of Clare! The songs by Donovan
give a depth and fullness to the movie-don't miss this one!!
Reviewer: from Seattle, Washington, USA... I watch this
video at least twice a year. Once in October near the feast
of St. Francis. The film does a very good job of presenting
the early years of the Fraciscan orders. It even makes reference
to the begining of the Third Order (Secular Franciscans). The
scenery and the gentle love between Francis and Clare in the
film are attempts at showing Francis's passion for creation.
The hard realities are also presented, that is the institutional
church finding visionaries such as Francis a challenge. The
presentation of Francis in his father's factory puts the focus
on the social justice Francis stood for (Francis beyond the
are many good biographies on Francis. This film is great for
introducing those who do not know of Francis (and Clare) some
of what he stood for and the gifts he left us with.
Reviewer: from Boxford, MA United States... If you haven't
seen this movie, I'll bet you have seen Zefferelli's, Romeo
and Juliet. This film is made with the same eye to beauty and
presentation of character, but captures the tale of St. Francis
of Assisi. There may be some overdramatization to make a point
here or there, but then I don't mind that sort of thing - it's
artistic freedom. One of my favorite scenes, is when the group
of Franciscan brothers finally gets to have an audience with
the Pope - and the Pope acknowledges "Christ in the distressing
disguise" of Francis and his group of brothers, it speaks
volumes. See this movie if you have respect for the message.
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