It’s my second day here in Delhi and my first full day after my arrival yesterday morning. My energy levels are up and down. I guess that comes from a combination of the heat during the day, the heat during the night that keeps me awake, and the fact I’m still catching up from the loss of sleep on an overnight flight where I, perhaps foolishly, thought I would be able to slumber the whole night through.
I'm here on behalf of Amida Trust, who will be more directly funding the project here. In the past we have supported the project through sending volunteers, and through providing Sahishnu with the funds she needed when she was the project leader here.
Now the project (the Amida activity, if you like) is being led by Suvidya a Minister in our Order, and he has created a local organisation which the Trust will fund to enable the project to continue.
I'm here to make sure everything that needs to be in place, is in place as much as it can be, in order for that to happen.
Suvidya and his wife Suando came over this morning and we caught up with our respective news. They both look well and Suvidya’s English is much better than the last time I was here four years ago.
I was heartened to hear that Suvidya hosts services at his home each morning and evening, and that people from the local community come and join him. He’s also teaching Buddhist classes and basic English classes to children.
English is one of the official languages here in India in a country with so many different official languages it often becomes the language of choice when people with two different native languages meet, although I hear that this may be changing with the new prime minister.
Either way it’s still an important skill and one that children of poor families often don’t get much support in learning. When the Order first made friends in Delhi we asked them, “what’s the most useful thing we can do to help?” Teaching English was the answer.
Suvidya is also meeting lots of different people interested in Pureland Buddhism. We talked about how we don’t feel like we need to convert people to this style of Buddhism. Suvidya has said that some people practicing Theravaden Buddhism here are quite happy in their own tradition, and in terms of reaching out to people with an Amidist message, it’s often non-Buddhists who are more interested.
This is equally true in the UK of course, if you are happy with the tradition you are practicing in you might be interested to learn about other forms of Buddhism, but you’re not likely to attend their meetings.
Part of the role I feel we have is to support people who have faith in good things, whether or not those good things go by the same name as our good things. This isn’t to say we should throw away our critical thinking, but to appreciate that there are many good ways of practicing. It was good to hear Suvidya coming to the same conclusions.
A great deal of the work he does is teaching Buddhism to the children of families who are either neglected by other monks, or are in relationships to monks who have been taught how to chant a few texts in Pali but are less adept at putting across teachings in local languages.
I am sure the care he shows and the enthusiasm he has for his faith is equally as important as the content of the message he is teaching.
Suvidya and Suando spent the morning here, but by lunchtime they could see I was flagging and took their leave.
I’ll meet them again tomorrow morning.
I’ve got some energy back this afternoon, perhaps I am becoming a little more used to the heat, or more likely having a rest helped. Anyway it’s given me the concentration I’ve needed to write here, and to catch up on a few other bits and pieces.
With love from Delhi, where they are waiting for the rains,
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