The time has come when we’re starting to think about the Bodhi Retreat. The Bodhi Retreat is a retreat, a gathering of the Sangha in December around the time of the 8th December, which is Bodhi Day, when we celebrate the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. Buddhism springs from that enlightenment. So, this is a pivotal date.
Traditionally, in the past, we’ve held the retreat in the first 8 days of December; and according to the tradition, this eight-day-period symbolizes the ascetic practice that the Buddha went through in his quest for awakening, culminating on the 8th with the awakening itself.
This year, we’ve decided on a slightly different procedure. We’ll be starting the retreat on the 8th. It’ll run from the 8th through to the 13th. This is to symbolise, that in this Sangha, what we’re concerned with primarily, is what flows from the enlightenment of Shakyamuni, rather than with how to get there. The spirit of Pureland Buddhism is like that. It starts from a great gratitude for the Dharma that has come into the world through the enlightenment of Shakyamuni. We’re not ourselves striving to achieve what he achieved: each life is unique, each one is different, each one receives the grace of the Buddhas in a different way. If one or all of us become enlightened, it will be through that grace and through the maturing of what we are. In the meantime, we practice the Dharma. We receive the transmission and we carry on the work of Shakyamuni. We do, what the Buddha started.
So, this retreat will be a coming together of the Sanga, of many different members of the Sangha, each offering something: some will run services, some will lead practice sessions, some will give talks, some will facilitate seminars on topics relevant to our study of the Dharma.
So, this is a coming together. Everybody is invited, whether they’re members of the Amida Sangha or not. Everyone who wants to come is welcome to join the retreat and since this year, of necessity, everything will be done online, it will be possible for people to contribute to the retreat from many corners of the world; and that should give it a special richness. So, even though these are difficult times, there are some positive benefits. We shall profit from the fact that we can have a Dharma talk from somebody in the East in the morning and somebody from the West in the evening; and this will help to bring the whole Sangha together.
The Amida Sangha is spread over many countries, and with the advent of the corona virus crisis, we’ve had an expansion of the Sangha through new people joining, mostly through the medium of zoom. Of course, some of the more established members have not really got used to this new way of doing things, but I hope that the retreat will bring everybody together: the established and the new, those from the West, those from the East, those from the North and South. We will all come together to celebrate the enlightenment of Shakyamuni and to carry that spirit forth into the future, for the benefit of future generations.
Namo Amida Bu
Thank you very much