Following the practice schedule which we devised for Amida France I thought people might be interested in seeing the current schedule at the Buddhist House. This is subject to change as we reflect and consider how this works in with other duties, all of which are, of course, practice. So we also intend to introduce a formal work period on weekdays and for the Amitarya's, a day where we 'go forth' into the community open to whoever we encounter and to offer help where we can.
Tuesday – Saturday
5.30 - 6.00 a.m. Morning call nembutsu chanting
6.00 – 7.00 a.m. Silent meditation -sitting and kinhin
7.00 – 7.45 Sutra Chanting – Sukhavativyuha, The Larger Pureland Sutra
8.00 – 9.00 Morning Service (Monday – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)
8.00 p.m. Evening service (Tues, Weds and Saturday)
9.00 - 10.30 p.m. silent meditation - sitting and kinhin (not Friday)
3.00 - 3.30 Quan Yin chanting (108)
3.00 Tai Shi Chih chant (108)
3.00 Om Ami Dewa Hrih chant (108)
6.30 - 7..30 a.m. Private prayer - recitation of precepts
8.00 – 9.00 a.m. Morning Service
5.00 - 6.00 p.m. Afternoon Service
9.00 - 10.00 p.m. silent ancestor contemplation
If you are interested in finding out more about any part of the practice then please do send a message and I can go into more detail.
Thank you Jnanamati. This amount and style of practice bounced around in my mind since I read your post yesterday. I wonder if there is now more emphasis on silent meditation at the Buddhist house. Is kinhin walking?
I have also been reflecting on something Dharmavidya said in the third talk at the recent summer school. "The ideal state where we are trying to get to is one where we don’t think about it, in which we don’t need awareness." I don't have awareness of trying to get somewhere with practice, but we are trying to get somewhere aren't we, to be useful. We are not trying to make something of ourselves, more to lose something. I wonder Jnanamati if you have a sense of doing practice for a reason. Sometimes I am asked why do you practice and I do feel from gratitude. But it also just becomes what we do, without reflecting on why, doesn't it? and I don't always feel gratitude when practicing, many things come up.
chanting the larger Pureland sutra five days a week, it starts to live in us; to fill us without awareness of it doing so.
last night i watched a programme about a group of people who live apart in Columbia who are known as the older brothers. Their entire lives are given to religious devotion; showing a peaceful living in the face of the wars raging all around them. they inspire their younger brothers who see them and know of them practicing.
I feel it is really important that our attention is drawn to the practices at tbh. Many friends of Amida cannot come to live there, but can be inspired to share the same practices and look at- why practice?
Thank you also for raising these questions which are central to what we do as Buddhist practitioners. I don't think, in answer to your first question, that more emphasis is being put on silent meditation as such, we have always done some, just that we have intensified our practice recently, including periods of chanting, and in a way that will enable people to join or use the space in a more flexible way around their other commitments.
Kinhin is indeed walking meditation, from the Zen practice, circumambulating as we would when chanting but in silence and at a slow pace, each step in parallel with the in breath and then insequence with the out breath.
The practice of silent meditation has a number of different levels to it it seems to me, although I would be reluctant to cement any clear reason for doing it that in any way could be viewed as deterministic, or seeking outcomes. The perspective then of prayer or gratitude fits comfortably and is redolent of the Jodo shinshu perspective on the nembutsu. We say the name to thank Amida for his supreme Vows, for his grace, rather than as a means to ensure entry into the Pureland. Of course you know all of this. What is key in this discussion is the difference between what we might practice in silent meditation as Amidists and how other traditions such as Zen do, as well as how much for example the latter might influence us. An extra dimension of course is connected to Dharmavidya's background, as co-founder and head of the Order, with Soto Zen and ordination under Kennett Roshi.
One thing that comes to mind in relation to sitting practice is how the word contemplation in English, for me, seems to convey something that more accurately describes what I do than the word meditation does. So whilst I sit in meditation posture and remain still and so on in ways I associate with zazen, my orientation to the relationship with the Tathagata is probably quite different. This is still nonetheless a mind/body practice. What I am doing is simply opening a devotional relationship with Amida. I allow whatever comes up to come up and am thus sitting with the potential for Amida's light and his measureless energy to be around these thoughts and feelings, discomforts and moments of bliss. This is an act of loving, of offering and of refuge. So in a sense there is a similarity to the kind of mindfulness meditation where every feeling, thought object and reflection is observed and seen to pass. This has an objective to some extent which is to be aware of the impermanence of things and to be less attached to these self objects. In the case of the contemplation practice I am talking about we are observing in the same way but really in order that we might express our gratitude for Nyorai's love, a dialogue which we might characterise as being similar to how the presence of light is dependent on the existence of darkness. Nyorai is beyond either so we are bringing some awareness from our side. In doing so by chance perhaps there is a possibility that this other power can manifest in what we do in the world, but to emphasise not ever as the result of our efforts either in the intensity of practice or outside of it.
Talking from the point of view of my own experience I do have a sense that placing sati or smriti in front of me, that is just being with whatever arises through sitting in this way, and offering it, the nembutsu that runs or rumbles in the background all the time, that is ever present can be more clearly heard for a while.
Furthermore I do think you are pointing to something important about how those devoted to living the spiritual life can be of value and help to others who for whatever reason are unable to do so, though this is only part of the picture. Of we hope here at TBH that the time we give to 'formal' practice and the other things we do will inspire others, but this should never be by means of making distinctions along lines that suggest deeper levels of realisation or attainment. Rather not only are we equal in this respect in relation to Amida, but also we are also aware to the gratitude that is due to those who make it possible for us to devote ourselves in this way. Why not practice?
Looking forward to seeing you here at TBH.
Namo Amida Bu
Thank you Jnanamati, Why not practice. A good question that needs no question mark. My sense is that we dont meditate or contemplate; we are meditated, we are contemplated. Our lives are a wonderful gift of a wonderful ride we are taken on. Fortunate are those of us who practice, are practiced; we are opened to the ecstacy of appreciation and any awareness we are shown becomes the cloud over the sun when we try to hold it.
Yes, I will see you soon Jnanamati and very much look forward to it . five days of devotion, ten days of chanting- practice like this is so outside anything I have known. Namo Amida Bu
Umm, I like that 'we are meditated, we are contemplated', we just need to step into the field
Namo Amida Bu