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Buddhist Creative Writing and Inspiration

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Amitabha, Our Only Reality

Ivan Latham

Amida Sanzon Ritsuzo Enkakuji Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

By Amitabha’s infinite light, we truly see the world as a shadow. Compounded things dim, impermanent things lose their shine and lustre. All things are seen for the emptiness that they are. All reduces, decreases, withers before Amitabha. The ego is pushed down, the buddha-nature within rises up, and our perceptions become more acute, tuned to Amitabha’s reality; the reality of His dharma of this purest of Pure Land paths. Joy increases, there is a lightness of being because we have thrown all on the Lord of Infinite Life and Light. We have relinquished our baggage and laid ourselves in the arms of Amitabha’s unfailing compassion and supreme wisdom. Like a child trusting its parent, we trust in Amitabha. He has become All, our reality, our truth, and nothing else can hold our attention.

The beauty of the dharma – Amitabha’s Dharma – surpasses the beauty of the non-lasting things of the world, and like moths to a flame, we fly to it. But Amitabha’s light does not burn us. It envelops and embraces us, so that we have eyes for nothing and no-one except Him. And with our gaze transfixed, we are drawn onwards and upwards, out of Samsara, to the shores of Amitabha’s Pure Land; where, at last we shall be fully and finally liberated by Him and our buddhahood attained.

Postcard from Raymond: How interconnected do you feel?

This image is a simulation of the “cosmic web,” a network of the scaffolding holding together the structure of the universe. This structure constitutes galaxies, dark matter, the gas that coalesces into stars, and “filaments”: regions of galaxy clusters woven together through what resembles slender, cobweb-like threads. This image from UC Riverside highlights how these filaments’ galactic properties formed the backbone of the cosmic web and the stars we see throughout our reality.

If we think about it, isn’t it extraordinary that, we human beings that are literal constituents of the universe—we are made from it—able to map it, to chart it, to study it to even the limited extent we have? At the same time we congratulate ourselves as the beings that the universe has chosen to help it understand itself, we should remain humble in the face of the unfathomable interconnectedness that we share with not just all beings but with all matter seen and unseen in the cosmos, reaching back into the untraceable deep past and onward into the infinite future.

It is true that the endless darkness can be frightening. But doesn’t this “web” almost remind one of a cosmic incarnation of Charlotte the spider, weaving a beautiful gossamer lace of stars while nurturing and advising the lonely pig Wilbur?

And we haven’t even gotten into the profundity of what lies beyond—the life after our life in this inconceivable organism of the universe… and the insight that was briefly unveiled by a sage on this little blue and green planet.

Light of Sukhavati: A Pure Land Devotion

Ivan Latham

Long I had slept, but now by Sukhavati’s light
Truly I see the world as a shadow;
Compounded things dim,
Impermanent things lose their shine and lustre.
All things are seen for the emptiness that they are;
All reduces, decreases, withers before Amitabha;
Ego is pushed down, the buddha-nature within rises up
On Nianfo wings;
Perceptions crystalise, tuned to Amitabha’s reality;
The reality of His dharma of this purest of Pure Land paths;
Joy increases; there is a lightness of being

Because I have thrown all on the Lord of Infinite Life and Light.
I have relinquished the baggage of my karmic debt
And laid myself in the arms of Amitabha’s unfailing compassion,
And walk by the light of His supreme wisdom.
Like a child trusting its parent,
My hope is in the Father of the Pure Land;
He has become All, my reality, my truth,
And nothing else can hold my attention.
The beauty of the dharma — Amitabha’s dharma —
Surpasses the beauty of the non-lasting things of the world,
And like a moth to a flame, I fly to it.
But Amitabha’s light does not burn me;
It envelops and embraces me
So that I have eyes for nothing and no-one except Him;
And with gaze transfixed, I am drawn onwards and upwards,
Out of Samsara, to the shores of Sukhavati,
Where, at last I shall be fully and finally liberated by Him,
And Buddhahood attained.
Namo Amituofo!

Moonscape Riders: Moon Reverie

Raymond Lam

A young girl discovers a magical secret entombed within an ancient grotto in the Chinese desert. What wonders will reveal themselves to her as she sets out to discover a mysterious secret of the long-lost Tangut Empire?

(Link to part 1 here)
(Link to part 2 here)
(Link to Water’s Moon, Mirror’s Flower)

They set off from the caves of Yulin, and like snaking streams of light, four spectral horses exploded in the direction of the Tangut Empire’s Imperial Tombs. The entourage, winding its way through the starry night, was like four lanterns shining in the vast wasteland, a quartet of miniature comets streaking across the dark sandscapes.

Xiaomao’s freezing hands—she chastised herself bitterly for forgetting to put on her mittens— were shaking so much in excitement that she was terrified that she might accidentally release Rong Rong and tumble off. Teeth chattering uncontrollably, she hung on, watching the ghost of Laosuo intently as his steed rocketed across the dark desert plains below the empyrean. The skin of her palms were worn, flakes of it rubbed and scratched off painfully from her grip on her horse’s reins.

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The Names of the Name

Ivan Latham

Homage to Amitabha,
Lord of Life and Lord of Light;
Before Whom all beings bow,
Whom all Buddhas adore and honour;

Amitabha, Breaker of  Chains,
Bestower of Merit,
Refuge of All Refuges
Liberator, Lord, and Friend.
Namo Amituofo!

Moonscape Riders: Horsemen of the Dream

Raymond Lam

A young girl discovers a magical secret entombed within an ancient grotto in the Chinese desert. What wonders will reveal themselves to her as she sets out to discover a mysterious secret of the long-lost Tangut Empire?

(Link to part 1 here)
(Link to part 3 here)
(Link to Water’s Moon, Mirror’s Flower)

Xiaomao could live with poverty. She could even endure living alone. She had survived by herself in backbreaking destitution all her young life, scavenging what she could from abandoned dwellings and stealing anything of value to peddle to the unsuspecting. Pieces of art, trinkets and jewelry, pottery and household items, anything that could feed her, or when she was lucky, afford her a few nights to stay somewhere with a roof over her head and a warm bed.

Perhaps it was karmic payback that it cost her so much more to be poor, for she spent everything she earned on scraping by, without any hope of something better or any prospect of leaving behind her dishonest life. Then again, if her parents hadn’t left her so early on, perhaps she would not have been forced to live so dishonestly.

So while she felt desperately lonely most nights, terrified that she would have to continue stealing until she was caught one day and beaten to death, she could tolerate her solitude as long as Rong Rong was around. He was the best listener and had served her well, rescuing her from many an angry pursuer. But even Rong Rong would leave her someday. And she didn’t want to die alone.

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An Introduction

Justin Whitaker

Hello. I’m Justin Whitaker, a new North America Correspondent for Buddhistdoor Global. I thought I’d use my first contribution here to tell you a bit about myself. Like so many of us these days, especially in North America, my background and resulting practice of Buddhism is deeply eclectic. Unlike many, my passion for Buddhism drew me in to a lengthy academic career, seeking ways to understand it both very broadly and in as much depth many thousands of hours in libraries can offer.

I am a recently “minted” Ph.D., with a degree from Goldsmiths college of the University of London. Prior to that, I earned an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Bristol University (also in England), and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Montana. In my period as a Ph.D. candidate – a very long nine years – I took time out to work and live in Bodhgaya, India for a semester study-abroad program in the falls of 2010 and 2014. I also traveled twice to China with the Taiwanese nun, Ven. Yifa, to experience Buddhism there and am currently a core faculty member for her Woodenfish program.

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Repose

Ivan Latham

Though evening comes, though darkness falls,
Though Mara from Samsara calls,
And sings to spread delusion’s sleep,
Oh Amitabha safely keep
All those who speak Your Name alone,
And bring us to our Pure Land home.

Devotion to the Guru

Padma Drolma

And if in all the beads nothing comes up

I won’t forget you
I’ll give another turn
Despite my thousand stumbles

For I know that thin are the lines which separate mastery from fear
They are tiny and do not define
Space is the shelter that does not welcome
It afflicts me with the idea of freedom 

Guru

And I see that your coiled rope was firm
That your guidance was accurate
Yet I sought to anticipate the route
Instead of holding 
Your hand

In reverence I address you with my voice
May my words not err
In conveying my vows of prosperity

Give way to obscuration
In the gallop of the Tupi nation
Paired with Kham 

Lord of the Dance
Our Master 
I hail

I request for passage
To him I prostrate
And in deep gratitude
I exalt his steps

Seed of Dharma planted
In the cold and damp soil
Among crowns 
Three

Buddha 
Dharma 
Sangha

Our Confidence Amid the Storm

Ivan Latham

To realise sincere, joyful and aspirational faith in Amitabha Buddha doesn’t mean we won’t have bad days. We are still in a Samsaric world with all its ups and downs. But what this threefold faith does give us is steadfast confidence despite the fluctuations of life; an unwavering assurance and experience of Amitabha’s sustaining compassion that, despite anything and everything, will ferry us safely and securely to enlightenment and the end of suffering.

Whatever life throws at us, this faith remains unmoved because it is not founded in us. It’s origin is Amitabha Himself, and there is not a single obstacle that we may encounter capable of eclipsing the all-encompassing Light of His Lotus Throne.

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