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Today we focused on the very beautiful descriptions of the beings in the happy land of Sukhavati. In many ways these are my favourite sections of the sutra; I’ve spent happy meditations in the past basking in the golden light as I imagined being amidst great beings with “minds of equality, minds of loving-kindness, gentle minds, affectionate minds, diligent minds, clear minds, stable minds, unhindered minds, unshaken minds, unagitated minds, minds which practise the perfection of wisdom” who stroll around the pure land, with no expectations, no notion of ownership, no worries, playfully singing songs of the Dharma. I know that dwelling with such beings in imagination, their qualities start to grow in me, in the same way as can happen when in good communication with a spiritual friend.
Listening to the sutra this morning was delightful; although I seemed rather distracted, joy arose after the session, and I spent much of the day humming the Amitabha mantra as I went about my activities, including playtime with the art materials, seeing our somewhat crazy image coming together.
Each day we have time to communicate how our practice was, and Ratnaguna responds from his well-integrated understanding of the Dharma. Today’s session seemed particularly sparkling. It was a delight to hear how those who’ve engaged with the retreat fully have been positively affected, and moving to hear Ratnaguna’s reflections and experience of approaches to practice and the power and ease of faith-based practice.
Our evening practice of sanghanussati was preceded by a longer talk from Ratnaguna. He began with some thoughts about the dualistic myth of these sutras - our buddhaland is impure and cannot become pure - and the beautiful sadness evoked by that. He suggested it also can ease our disappointed perfectionism to realise that is the way it is, whilst enjoying the inspiration the beings in the pure land can offer, and “enjoying playing” in our impure sangha. I touched that sadness this evening.