Report on the 130th London Eza

The morning of the130th Eza brought a cloudless blue sky, unseasonally mild and sunny. In fact, apart from the temperature one participant felt it to be like a Japanese winter day, very clear and bright. The morning was spent preparing the house and grounds for the Eza. As well as the residents, a number of Sangha members joined and we had six of people sweeping the leaves from the road and lots of activity in the house setting up the room and preparing food.

After the service, we heard Rev. Ishii’s talk on ‘Our common practice at Three Wheels’. Religious services are held to express gratitude to Amida Buddha, held daily and open to all. Medtation is held to give us time to think deeply about what has been done for us, rather than as a means to become enlightened. Following her son’s progress at the students meeting, a parent called the temple to ask what kind of magic was happening at the temple to result in such positive changes in behaviour and maturity. There is also activity for younger children, with the infants meeting. The Eza meeting origianlly started many years ago at a supporter’s home, then continued at Three Wheels, including a service and a talk by a priest or other invitee. A participant noted how special the Eza is in bringing together participants from each of the different meetings. The Shokai retreat has been running since 2008 and provides time for members to spend two days together listening to the Dharma.

The common dimension across the different events is that the events are all ways of thinking constantly about the Buddha’s name, with the practice of nembutsu, we learnt. Rev. Ishii shared his feeling that his practice is like the follower of Rennyo-shonin who was advised to ‘put his basket in the water’ to avoid the feeling of the truth of the Dharma escaping from his basket when away from the temple. He also stressed that every moment is a moment of practice and an opportunity to practice and deepen our understanding.

One participant mentioned that by spending time at the temple recently has increased awareness of how difficult it is to really listen to people and to connect with them, and how the temple supports a deeper understanding. Another agreed with the feeling of the joy of ‘dipping his basket’ into the life of the temple, and how supportive this has been for so many of us.

The annual end of year party is always popular and participants were treated to performances of music organised by Students’ meeting participants who had extensively planned the event. There was also a quiz that everyone enjoyed, with prizes and a raffle. This was followed by the usual celebratory meal where we all enjoyed a light meal and good conversations, sharing stories from the year coming to an end and thinking forward to 2017.

Matthew A.