Gunaketu reports on interesting developments in Triratna’s Norwegian sangha, who recently held a weekend retreat at a place called Skogly – which could be translated as “refuge in the woods”.
“We were to study the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra, which has just been translated from Sanskrit into Norwegian by mitra David Welsh, a Scotsman who lives here. See below for an extract (in Norwegian and English) from this wonderful sutra, which opens up the Mahayana perspective on the Dharma and the way to the beyond.
What better context for the happy news that my sister, Bente Kjønstad, has been invited to next year’s ordination retreat for women, at Akashavana, in Spain)?
Bente is the first Norwegian to have prepared for ordination in Norway – with good support from the sangha in Sweden and at Tiratanaloka. It is a great tribute to her stamina, dedication and hard work. She came along to support me, her younger brother when I started activities in Oslo in 2000. After a couple of years she thought it was time for me to stand on my own feet - but just as she was about to pull out she noticed that she was interested for her own sake! Since then she has been a steady support for me and the rest of the sangha and I am absolutely delighted that she will join our Order! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.
Having celebrated this we moved on to explore what this Dharma means to us. A highlight was imagining what we would each offer to the Buddha if the possiblities were unlimited. A rock-formation called Prekestolen (the preacher’s pulpit) came to my mind. Then there were: a misty lake, a snow-clad mountain peak, the sun above the clouds as viewed from the window of a plane; waterfalls, and more.
As if all this were not enough, two weeks later we heard that David had received his invitation to next year’s ordination retreat for men! On top of that, we received learned that Maitrighosha, from Mexico via Cambridge, would be arriving mid-December to spend six months with our sangha, to inspire and be inspired!
In the meantime, we will soon have 11 mitras. The sky’s the limit. We’re aiming Beyond!”
Extract in Norwegian from the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra Den velsignede henvendte seg da til den ærverdige Śāriputra og sa, “Śāriputra, det er slik at i vest finnes det et buddhafelt som heter ‘Sukhāvatī’, og som ligger bortenfor tusen milliarder andre buddhafelt. Det bor en tathāgata der, en arhat, en fullkomment oppvåknet buddha som heter Amitāyus og som lærer bort Dharma. Hvorfor tror du, Śāriputra, det verdenssystemet heter ‘Sukhāvatī’, ‘Det lykkelige riket’? I det verdenssystemet, Śāriputra, i Sukhāvatī, opplever levende vesener hverken fysisk eller mental smerte, og det finnes endeløse årsaker til lykke. Derfor heter det verdenssystemet ‘Sukhāvatī’, ‘Det lykkelige riket’.
And in English… At that time, the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Śāriputra: “To the west, Śāriputra, there is a Buddha-field, a world system, named ‘Sukhāvatī’ which lies beyond countless hundreds of thousands of other Buddha-fields. At the present time, a tathāgata, an arhat, a perfectly awakened Buddha named Amitāyus dwells there, teaching the Dharma. Why do you think, Śāriputra, that world-system is called ‘Sukhāvatī’, the ‘Realm of Happiness’? In that world-system, Śāriputra, in Sukhāvatī, living beings experience no physical or mental suffering, and there are endless causes of happiness. This is why that place is called ‘Sukhāvatī’, the ‘Realm of Happiness’.