I’m writing to you as chair of Amida Trust, to tell you about the exciting new developments and possibilities opening up for the UK Amida sangha in partnership with Amida Trust.
Most of you will know that the Trust owns a property in London – Sukhavati – which was left to the Trust by Christina Thompson in 1999, on condition that the building be used as a Dharma centre. Dharmavidya initially ran the centre as the Trust headquarters and UK Dharma Centre for a short while until the establishment of the Buddhist House in Narborough, whereupon Sukhavati became the London satellite for Amida Trust. It fulfilled that function very well for many years under the care of many Order members including Madrakara, Modgala, Sumaya, Jnanamati, Padma and lastly Andy Paice, our current housekeeper. Many people encountered Pureland Buddhism and Dharmavidya’s teachings for the first time at Sukhavati, and some of these good people went on to become Order members themselves. Many others were touched by the teachings and became good friends of the Order and Trust. Modgala in particular developed a network of sympathetic friends and provided a place for people where they could find trust, faith and openness.
When the Buddhist House became unavailable for Amida Order and Amida Trust use in early 2012, the Trust’s headquarters returned to Sukhavati, and the Trust itself entered a period of regrouping and putting the Trust’s affairs in good order. It quickly became apparent that Sukhavati, which was now the Trust’s only significant asset, was really not fit-for-purpose as a UK Dharma centre, being much too small, needing substantial building improvements and lacking adequate disabled access. The promise that Sukhavati held for a thriving Dharma centre was never completely fulfilled despite being under the stewardship of many very good Order members, and this was due to a large extent to the run-down feel of the place and its size. The trustees therefore decided quite early in 2012 to be open in principle to the idea of selling Sukhavati and investing in a Dharma centre somewhere else when the right time came.
In early 2014, these ideas became alive with the potential for a new UK centre in Malvern, following the recognition in the Trust and the UK Order of the wonderful energy and commitment of Kaspa and Satya. The Trust was actively looking for significant ways to support the UK Order and to use our assets to spread the Dharma, and so we entered into negotiations with Kaspa and Satya to find and run a new Trust centre in Malvern for the UK Order. We didn’t quite foresee what subsequently happened – Kaspa and Satya very quickly found a building in Malvern, Bredon House, which turned out to be well-nigh perfect for our purposes: a beautiful guest house with very good accommodation, plenty of room, in good condition and not least with astonishingly breathtaking views across the vale of Evesham from its hillside location. We’ve had to move quickly to have the best chance of obtaining this building, and so Sukhavati is now on the market and the Trust has made an offer for Bredon House. Although not a done deal yet, it is highly likely that by the middle or end of November, Sukhavati will be sold and Bredon House will be the Trust’s new headquarters under the highly capable spiritual and managerial directorships of Kaspa and Satya.
Of course, the loss of Sukhavati will be felt quite sharply by some of us within the UK sangha and among our friends both in the UK and abroad, and those of us in London especially will be affected very directly: we have come to love Sukhavati and all it stands for. The London sangha will continue to meet and practise of course, and we are looking for a new venue close by. But there is no doubt that this is the right move, and it does feel as though a new, very promising chapter for the UK Order and Amida Trust has begun. Under Kaspa and Satya’s leadership and the Trust’s financial and legal support, the new Malvern and UK Dharma Centre – Amida Mandala – will have the very best chance of success. If all goes well, the Bodhi retreat this year could be held at Bredon House and if so will be the first of many Amida events at Amida Mandala.
Kaspa and Satya add:
We see it as a huge privilege to have this opportunity to live in and run a Dharma Centre on behalf of the Order and the Trust. It will operate as a town temple with weekly services, stone passings etc and provide a space for UK and international Amida gatherings and weekend retreats. There will also be a couple of guest rooms for people wanting some individual retreat space. We aim to have four residents living in ensuite rooms on the top floor – we have one space left for a resident, so if you might be interested in talking about taking a room (if things go through successfully!) do get in touch with Satya
Namo Amida Bu
Chair of Amida Trust
21 Sussex Way