Karida, meaning "essence", or "heart", is an independent, non-sectarian Buddhist Sangha welcoming as members those of any spiritual path who wish to share in our practices, which we call our "inner work." In our first twenty years of existence the following memes have consistently emerged.
Quite often, the first thing Buddhist organizations are asked is this question. Karida is one of many communities that, while respecting Buddhist lineages, we are not connected to any particular lineage in the traditional sense. For us, the most important lineage is called the "short" lineage. More detail about our position on lineages can be found in a short essay by Dharma Teacher Michael Elia in our library. The Buddha Himself seems to have left it up to each of us to decide which Path to take, and whether to associate with "short" or "long" lineage teachings. His very last words on this Earth were, "I have held back nothing from you. Now work out your own liberation." Buddhism is all about taking responsibility for oneself. So, as with everything else on the Path, the value of lineage, long, short or something in between, is up to you.
To "ordain" means to appoint, or officially invest, an individual with a specific role in the spiritual community. For Karida, the power to ordain comes from the polity of the Sangha rather than from an outside hierarchy. The official title of a Karida minister is "Dharma Teacher". Ordination as a Dharma Teacher is recognition of the power of the limitless compassion of the Buddhas at work in an individual's own study, practice, and motivation to serve the Sangha in a particular way. In general, Karida ministers serve many of the needs of the Sangha such as; hospice volunteer, weddings, funerals, house blessings, to name a few.
In practice, our independence means that the power to ordain ministers, set policies, produce teaching materials, and conduct various religious services, resides within the local Sangha (Buddhist community) rather than flowing from an outside hierarchy or organization. In the Western traditions of Protestantism, this is referred to as "congregational polity." For us, the term "independence" means nothing more than this. We welcome the participation of those who likewise are accepting of traditions other than their own. We believe this practice of mutual acceptance moves us toward the goal of ending, or at least reducing, religiously motivated aggression in the world.
"Transfer of Merit" is made possible through the interconnectedness of all that exists. We believe that the merit obtained by the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, benefits each one of us and that, in turn, the merit we attain is shared with countless others. This benefit is freely available to all beings today to assist them in the development of their own unique understanding of the impermanent world of cause and effect. All acts of compassion benefit all beings. This benefit, what we call "Transfer of Merit", is made possible because of the underlying interconnectedness of all that exists.
The weather in Central America affects the price of my cup of coffee. Likewise, a random act of kindness may plant a seed that bears fruit years later. This is all possible because of the interconnectedness of everything. Buddhism teaches that nothing exists independent and unchanging. This interconnectedness is the foundation, or mechanism, that makes the Transfer of Merit possible. The Avatamsaka (or Flower Garland) Sutra tells us that everything in the universe is woven together by countless causes and effects.
All of the fine arts contain the potential to be expressions of the Buddha Dharma. We encourage meditation through the arts as vehicles for the celebration of life and expressions of the Dharma. We invite you to visit our Karida Art Gallery. Also, we invite you to visit our poetry collection which has grown to have its own home outside the gallery.
Karida members seek opportunities for meditation, opportunities for the creation of beauty, and opportunities for acting in caring and loving ways toward the Earth. Our pursuit of this latter goal is exemplified by our long support of the work of Amaterra, an environmental organization. We encourage you to visit the Amaterra web site. We see these three practices: meditation, art, and caring for the Earth, as core examples of Living Buddhism.
Living in harmony with the Earth is a principle goal of Karida Sangha. It is our belief that this becomes possible only through the "inner work" establishment of a Pure Heart. The involvement of members in caring and loving activities designed to help establish our harmony with the Earth are seen as exemplary examples of "Living Buddhism".
We believe that the aspiration, or vow, of the Bodhisattva for the welfare of all beings is so powerful that the Vow itself gives rise to whatever interest an individual may have in learning about the Buddha Dharma. How this interest may grow and develop is unique to the individual. We celebrate this uniqueness. "Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual and this is authority for that individual alone." (see Gyomay Kubose) Unique individual "versions" of the Buddha Dharma are what we call "Living Buddhism."
We believe that Samatha, or calm abiding meditation, is central to the Buddhist tradition. It is also an example presented to us by the Founder Himself. This being the case, we feel that meditation is of central importance to our Buddhist practice. Visit Amitabha page for much more on this topic.
Although, in some quarters, the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin is a "Goddess" capable of giving and receiving favors, She is much more; a representation of our own seed aspiration to fully develop our own Compassion. As such, Her images, both concrete and mental, are worthy objects of meditation as aids to help nurture our own Kuan Yin within. Central to the practices of Karida Sangha is the "evocation" of the Kuan Shih Yin. In the history of Buddhism, She came to be seen as the ultimate embodiment of Compassion. The literal translation of her name is, "She who hears the Cries of the World". For us She is an external representation of our own compassion. Through our own Kuan Shih Yin practices, such as chanting sutras and meditation, we seek to nurture that compassion within ourselves. This nurturing is called, "Karunachitta" or developing a mind/heart of compassion.
The teachings of "Basic Buddhism" are contained in the Ti-sarana, or Threefold Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; The Four Noble Truths: Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, and Magga; The Eightfold Path: Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation; the Six Paramitas and the Five Precepts. In practice, "living Buddhism" emerges uniquely, within each individual, with the rise of Bodhichitta, or the "Awakened Heart/Mind" and the rise of Karunachitta, the "Compassion Heart/Mind".
Indra's "Jewel Net" manifests in many ways. In the twentieth century one of the most significant manifestations of this Jewel Net was the development of the World Wide Web. In embracing the Web, Karida seeks to encourage Buddhists who are isolated from other practicing Buddhists by providing them with the resources of a Sangha affiliation. The World Wide Web is a tool for our realization of interconnection.
We encourage people to apply whatever insights they may find in the Buddha Dharma to whatever spiritual path they may be on. Karida does not proselytize. However, we recognize that some may wish to publicly make the Buddhist Path their own. We provide an opportunity for them to do so by recitation of the Vandana Ti-Sarana with the intent to follow the Dharma. For information on joining Karida please go to our "Join us at Karida Buddhist Sangha" page.