Your Radiant face
Like a mountain peak catching the first burst of morning light
Has awesome and unequalled majesty.
Like black ink by comparison
Are the sun, the moon, or the “mani” treasure.
Such is your incomparable face.
The melody of your enlightenment fills the world
Rare and precious are your precepts,
Learning, energy, meditation, wisdom and amazing virtue.
The oceanic Dharma of all Buddhas,
Which you fathom to its deepest depths,
Dispels the three poisons from the heart –
You are like a lion:
Valiant and divinely pure.
This is the start of Dharmakara’s song of praise that is found in “The Larger Pureland Sutra”. It is the story Shakyamuni Buddha told of the cry from the heart of the prince Dharmakara who, on seeing the suffering in the world became a shramana (a seeker) in order to create a Pureland where “all could be enlightened”. He would become the Buddha Amida.
I felt the power of this cry from the heart as we chanted it in France. I was on my first visit to La Ville au Roi, twenty years ago, my twenty-one year old daughter was with me as I experienced my first Buddhist retreat. We both felt the magic of the place as we worked and laughed and learnt more about the Buddha from Dharmavidya. My daughter was rather non-plussed at her atheist mother being hooked by a religion and came to have a look at these Buddhists. Not that she was converted, she is still very wary about religion; however she could see the goodness in the teachings.
“Life of No Regret” drew me closer
to the essence of the Buddha’s teachings
I was hooked! “Namo Amida Bu” had already grabbed me and I wanted to know more, and experience more of the Buddhist way of life. Dharmavidya’s teachings had brought the Buddha to life for me. I could empathise with the Buddha’s search to relieve suffering and I saw the wisdom contained in his teachings, especially when I looked at them from a psychological level. Somehow the chant “Life of No Regret” drew me closer to the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. I could feel there was something special in this chant. I wanted its effects to live on in me and inspire and encourage me as I realised I needed to make a radical change in my lifestyle. On my last day I sat under the old walnut tree frantically writing it down to take back with me to Scotland.
I needed help. I wanted the bliss of the last week to last but above all I knew I was going back to face some very difficult circumstances with problems at work and at home. I had decided to create a little shrine in my home where I could sit and meditate but knew it would be difficult for me to continue the practices; especially because I had a good but very atheist husband and we lived in a small house. I recognised that chanting “Namo Amida Bu”would help me because it could be done anywhere. I would sit in my car before going into my workplace where I was misunderstood and felt bullied. “Namo Amida Bu” gave me the courage to carry on. However the words in “The Life of No regret” encapsulated the vows that I could not find words for but had become lodged in my heart.
This first part of “The Life of No Regret” is Dharmakara calling out to the Buddha of his time, Lokeshvararaja”. He feels the melody of Lokeshvararaja’s enlightenment and is honouring and recognising his wisdom and compassion . Above all he could see his Buddha shine, he could envisage Lokeshvararaja’s radiant face. “People of faith shine”, I could see it in Dharmavidya’s face as he taught in France, and because of that I was starting to be able to imagine and connect with Amida and Buddha Shakyamuni . The Buddha’s teachings were a shining light in the midst of the difficulties I could see in this world and the difficulties I knew I was facing.
a shining light in the midst of the difficulties
Back in Scotland I echo Dharmakara’s prayer as I chant “the Life of no Regret”. I remember the precious precepts, learning, energy, meditation, wisdom and virtue that I can find in the Buddha’s teachings. I picture his shining face and the Dharma dispelling the three poisons that conflict our world, and my life. I find the courage to carry on making the changes in my life that I hope will enable me to be a force for good rather than a source of trouble.
In the second part “Life of No Regret”. Dharmakara starts to voice his vows, vows I am trying to make my own. I will share these next week.
Namo Amida Bu