Statement from Dharmavidya, the Head of the Amida Order.
(sent around as an email 1st Dec 2011.)
For Caroline's statement please scroll down.
You will probably have heard by now that a reorganisation is taking place within the Amida organisation. This public letter is to tell you how this will work from the Amida Trust side. I'm sorry that it is long, but you can pick out what interests you. If it comes to you more than once, please accept my apologies for the duplication.
In July Caroline resigned from the Amida Order and in consequence she will now create a new organisation. An agreement has been reached in broad principles. She will form a new Pureland Buddhist charity, possibly under the name Tariki Trust. This is currently taking shape. Half the assets of the old organisation will go to this new organisation. This creates new opportunities and challenges for those of us who continue the journey with Amida Trust in its new circumstance. In broad we intend to proceed by the same principles that have always stood us in good stead and to reinforce and deepen them. The strength of Amida Trust is our people - us - and working together in the freedom created by the new arrangements great things are certainly possible.
NEW BOARD, NEW HQ
The Amida Trust will go forward centred upon the Amida Order but with pretty much the same wide range of activities as formerly. However, the main office of the Trust and the Order are moving to London, to Sukhavati House at 21 Sussex Way, Finsbury Park. Being based in the capital has obvious advantages. Further, almost all the trustees of the old organisation, having all given long and excellent service, will take this opportunity to step down and make way for a new team as soon as the legalities of the transition are completed. A new board-in-waiting is ready and enthusiastic to take over and in the mean time will be engaging in the task of planning for the future. Members of the new board include Sujatin Johnson, Damian Smyth, Tony Danford (Padmaghosa), Ann Jones and Geeta Chari.
The heart of the Trust will continue to be the Amida Order and Amida Shu, the Shu being those who have made a commitment to Pureland Buddhist practice and the Order being Shu members who have ordained or taken on particular responsibilities. This system all continues as before and we are looking forward to greeting new entrants and holding ordinations next week in the Bodhi Retreat as we have done every year. I shall go on as head of the Order and Modgala Duguid becomes the new deputy. Sujatin Johnson continues as senior minister, Sumaya Budkovska as my jisha, and Kuvalaya Abel as secretary to the Order. The Order will continue more or less as it always has (see Apprendix 1), which demonstrates that the system we have evolved is a resilient one.
Sukhavati in Finsbury Park, London, will have an enhanced role as a Dharma centre and we expect to be expanding the schedule of regular evening events as well as day and weekend retreats and seminars, plus occasional sesshin following the Five Sesshin system. Order events will for the foreseeable future generally take place in Derbyshire. We shall also offer events in other parts of UK and visit and offer events to overseas branches. I'm very gratified by the solid support that Amida groups around the world have given in this recent period of debate and turmoil. Such perseverence and shared wisdom bears good fruit. Above all, the atmosphere of Amida Trust in its new incarnation will be as warm and welcoming as it has always been and AT will continue its unique blend of tradition and modernity within which a variety of contemplative, cultural and socially engaged activities flourish. These will include our work in India and elsewhere as well as personal and group retreats. Amida involvement in the Maitri Project in Leicester will pass to the Tariki organisation.
If you are interested in deepening your Buddhist practice, commitment or involvement, or if you have energy and enthusiasm for the application of the Dharma in socially constructive ways, come and talk to us.
The new AT will also have a psychotherapy committee, or "forum", which will be an integral part of the trust but will present itself to the outside world as the "Institute for Zen Therapy". IZT, as part of Amida Trust, will offer counselling, groupwork and Amida training in London and elsewhere. We will aim initially to offer one weekend of psychotherapy training per month for 9 or 10 months of the year. Founding members of the IZT forum include Jnanamati Williams, Fiona Robyn, Ann Jones, Susthama Kim, myself and others. This is a new development, but builds upon the experience accumulated since the beginnings of the original psychotherapy programme in 1981. The forum will plan and oversee both training and service delivery. If you are already offering or are interested in becoming involved in offering counselling, psychotherapy or groupwork do talk to us about how we may be able to assist you or to co-operate together. For transitional arrangements for existing students see Appendix 2 below.
A consequence of these changes is likely to be that the AT feels less concentrated in one centre. Although the move to the capital itself presents many exciting possibilities, we should, in the new arrangement, be able to get about. We shall run events in different parts of Britain, not simply in London, and internationally. The work of the ministers in different cities should thus receive a boost. Gathering, co-operating in teams, and generating synergism have always been important values in AT and we intend to continue in this same philosophy, hopefully raising it to a new level. We hope that you will feel the difference and that this will encourage you to become even more involved than formerly. This is an exciting time and a good time to step forward and help. Although a split is occurring and people will, to some extent, have to choose where they want to put their energy, these developments offer the prospect of the emergence of two separate thriving Buddhist organisations both doing important work and co-operating where this is mutually beneficial. Within the Amida Trust community we are taking advantage of this transition to do a modest amount of re-organising so as to reaffirm the important foundational values that have guided us from the beginning.
There are many people in the Amida Trust and there will be a great deal of talk and planning going on over the next month or two. I hope you enjoy it. I would love to hear from you personally. This is a time for dialogue. I've outlined the changes as I am aware of them, but AT is such a creative space that there will be some things I've missed, some I'm not even aware of. If you want to ask more or discuss particular aspects of the new situation, talk to Order members or do send me a message on Friends of Amida.
Above all, if, in the light of Amida's vow, we gather in peace, listen to one another with love in our hearts, work co-operatively and persevere, there is very little that we shall not be able to accomplish. It has not been easy dealing with this great transition in the midst of our year end retreat season, but, in a way, it is appropriate that the background to these changes has been our commitment to practice.
As I write the 10 day chanting retreat is moving into its last 24 hours and I shall now hurry back to the hall.
Namo Amida Bu and with much affection to you all,
Basic outline of arrangements in the Amida Order
The Order is a group of people who have made a commitment to the Buddhist life in the style that has evolved at Amida since the first ordinations in 1998. The Order is governed by statutes set out in a document called "Provisions for the Structure, Continuity and Governance of Amida-shu". These constitutional provisions include due process for their own revision, which means that we are a self-governing and evolving community. The Amida Shu is entered through a special ceremony of taking refuge and exists to support people in their Buddhist practice. Within the Shu there is the Order. Generally admission to the Order is by ordination, but there are also lay Order members for special cases of people taking significant responsibility who do not wish to take vows. Ordained members are either Amitaryas, who live mostly in community and are free to travel and do Amida work where needed, and Ministers, who develop the sangha in their own locality. The Order thus offers training for ministry and full commitment and supports the spiritual life at all levels of intensity. Amitaryas and ministers can opt to be celibate or not as they choose. All this continues unaltered. However, as we shall now be based in rather smaller premises we intend to take advantage of the lessened domestic responsibilities in order to revitalise the spirit of the original vision for ordained members. The amitaryas are likely to be more mobile in the future, supporting projects in the field and the work of ministers in many locations. The system as originally envisaged will thus come closer to realisation.
APPENDIX 2: Amida Trust policy in regard to already registered students.
Existing students may study with either organisation and so will, in the transitional period at least, have an enhanced choice. AT/IZT will recognise all existing credits as well as credits issued in 2012 by the Tariki organisation. Existing fees contracts will be honoured. After this transitional period the situation will be reviewed. IZT will not offer as many psychotherapy course days in 2012 as Tariki, but we expect this to be a developing situation. We are keen to avoid a situation of competition developing. We hope that by offering shorter courses in London and parts of the country away from the Midlands we may draw in new students to the benefit of both organisations. In this spirit, we are not asking students to make a formal option. Simply, when they have completed their studies, if they pass a completion meeting at IZT they may receive an appropriate certificate exactly as under existing arrangements. We hope that Tariki will reciprocate and that in the future we will be able to move toward a co-operative system to the benefit of everybody. As a transitional arrangement, for students already registered as at 30 November 2011, the certificate that they receive at the end of their studies may, if they so wish, bear the name Amida Trust, whichever of the two organisations it is actually issued by
. -- David Brazier
Statement from Caroline Brazier of Tariki Trust
Thank you David for this statement. I hope that Amida Trust and Tariki Trust will both flourish. Their birth has come out of the natural process of a separation, but I hope that they will both in their different ways express the Dharma and the Pureland path. Over the coming weeks I have a big task ahead of me in establishing new structures and drawing together people who have an interest in the areas of activity which we will be sharing in France and Narborough. I hope that if people are interested in being involved in this process they will contact me. Tariki Trust will continue to offer the Amida Psychotherapy Training in Other Centred Approach through the nine day blocks at Narborough as before, and we will offer reciprocal arrangements with David's programme. These are not easy times, but it is often at times when things seem hardest that real creative possibilities break through. Wishing you all well.
Namo Amida Bu