For those who hold vows
Dear Pastors Moh Mei, Jean Ai, Shin, Yek Yee,
As spiritual aspirants (monks/nuns to be, Pastors representing the dharma, lay students who have taken refuge vows for enlightenment) it is very important we distinguish ourselves from ordinary lay people. We have have heard the dharma, know the truth of existence and understand the methods. We have to be different BECAUSE we have heard, know the truth and understand the dharma. So when we aspire by taking vows and focusing our minds towards enlightenment it is the direct outcome of our sincere aspirations. Sincere commitments arise from sincere aspirations. When the aspiration is sincere, then our commitments for it is easier. When we have sincere aspirations, then anything that challenges us will be seen as a method to curb the mind and not as an impossible hurdle.
When we take vows of any type, especially when we aspire to be monks/nuns, we are distinguishing in our mind stream and the mind stream of others our wish to be spiritually advanced. We wish to conquer ourselves. We wish this advancement for the sake of ourselves and the many others. We start with ourselves. But time is of the essence as we don’t have much of it. To take vows is to consciously eliminate the stimuli that would further reinforce negative habits and also to cut them. Vows is the key. As negative stimuli are the true source of all of our unwanted sufferings and they delay if not stop our spiritual growth. Our vows are to cut specific and general stimuli such as procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness, miserliness, ego based decisions, self gratification and the related. When these are cut or under control, then our actions and behavior are different naturally. Our actions will lead to improvement both for self and inspire others around us. We are to develop compassion, tolerance patience, hard work, ethics, right view, promises, consistency, stability, keeping words of honor and the likes as the correct stimuli and the vows we have taken are the keys. Cutting out wrong stimuli will serve to not worsen our mental state but ‘dry up’ the lake of samsara as the river which feeds it is diverted. Wrong stimuli is like toxic water from a factory going into a lake killing all the inhabitants of the lake slowly. Whereas correct stimuli (vows, promises, work, compassion, etc) is like fresh melted glacial water flowing into the same pond refreshing and enriching the denizens of the lake. The lake is our mind. The denizens our spiritual growth. The water flowing in is the stimuli we feed are feeding this mind.
For our spiritual growth and for us to increase the sangha, it all depends on feeding our minds with right stimuli by guarding our vows as we would our eyes. To keep our promises, do our work well and be consistent are the formulas for this to happen. (Some have requested to to take vows and that is wonderful. But hold the vows now, and ‘prove’ you really wish to do so to yourself and your teacher).
The whole reason to be a monk, nun, Pastor or sincere dharma student, is to cut the wrong stimuli immediately and that itself is not the goal but a correct path to reach our goals. Do not think transformation is the goal, but it is the tool in which we can use to reach our goal of mind awakening. So do not limit ourselves to say we are improving as that is not the goal but just a tool. Be vigilant of our minds.
Therefore holding the simplest of promises to the most ‘complex’ is possible when our determination arising from true aspiration is in place. As monks and nuns to be it is crucial that we are not reminded of our duties, our promises, our behavior and what work we are suppose to perform on a very fundamental level. As when we are reminded it sends the wrong habitual stimuli to our mind making our change of dress no different than before we changed our dress and shaved our heads.
As monks and nuns to be and Pastors, it is very important we keep our words of honor and our integrity especially with our dharma brothers and sisters and teacher. It is just as important for all spiritual aspirants in fact. Spiritual awakening is for all and not just sangha…it’s just sangha take the extra step and quicken the promise when keeping vows. Vows protect from wrong stimuli. As monks and nuns-to-be our wish to renounce negative stimuli is signified by our hair cutting, donning the robes and changing outer behavior. If our outer behavior is only subject to cutting our hair and wearing robes and nothing further, than we have used our greatest opportunity as perhaps another comfort zone for our ego to elicit respect, protection, support or the likes perhaps?
Therefore it is most important for sangha to be that we release our negative stimuli and immediately adopt positive stimuli as you have taken your vows already and also you are the leaders of the community or close to it. Leaders are not people who give orders, but people who show others that sangha (and dharma) is something worth to support because they focus all their time on development of the inner which reflected in their consistency, forthrightness, diligence, patience, compassion and tolerance. This is reflected in our work. Our work must reflect the correct stimuli. We want to cut from our mind all wrong stimuli and feed it correct stimuli so development occurs and each year we get closer to our spiritual goals as opposed to stagnancy or worse yet, degeneration.
As sangha to be we must make this preparation time or training time REALLY TRAINING TIME and not be lax. When we finally (due to tremendous merits) don the maroon robes, we have elicit admiration, respect and the folded hands of others because THEY KNOW WE HAVE WORKED TOWARD BEING WORTHY OF THIS. We plant the seeds of virtuous sangha in their minds. So there is no time to waste. Impermanence contemplations should kick in here. Our many years alive on this earth should not have served as time to cement our negative habits (stimuli) but age into wisdom and inspiration for others.
I am very happy and rejoice for those of you who keep even the simplest of my requests such as social media as among some of your assignments and duties. I see you five Pastors consistently on social media promoting events, activities, practice, our lineage, KFR, Kechara, and using different methods to do so. It warms my heart. Even when I am physically far away you make offerings of practice to me (labeled as your teacher) of doing something as simple as CONSISTENT SOCIAL MEDIA without reminders. Although outwardly making offerings to your teacher seems like it’s for the teacher, it’s really for yourself because the outer teacher leads to the inner teacher. Consistency is the offering in this case. You relieve the outer teacher to remind and therefore it is another plus point for your own inner teacher. This shows me the time I have spent with you has taken some positive effect in your mind stream and this gives me the GREATEST JOY AND REJOICE. I thank you. This creates causes to be near the dharma, hear the dharma, be near the teacher and the causes for dharma for ourselves. When we do the dharma we please the teacher. The outer teacher is the person who teaches us and the inner teacher is ourselves. When we please our inner teacher, then we gain courage, stamina, inspiration and blessings.
Keep up your social media and other works. I am very happy to see you on tweets (when I read them during my travels), fb and blog and see your participation. It really warms my heart in the cold climate of where I am currently.
Although this message is for some specific people in Kechara, it applies to all persons who do their work with a compassionate heart diligently. We have many people in Kechara that work very hard and quietly behind the scenes and I appreciate them tremendously. I thank all of you so much. Some I may not always know how much you are doing, but I am sure it’s a lot. I thank you and offer my prayers. Kechara stands for benefit. We formed Kechara to bring benefit to others. We have to remember this always. To bring benefit to others. There are many obstacles and challenges, but all things that are good and benefit are like that. We cannot give up and we must let our better side win. Our better thoughts win. We must work towards that. Let the Dharma win. Let all those who need dharma win!
Bringing dharma to others really changes people’s lives. Also it is also this letter is good for people who are holding vows and the reasons behind it. Even if you are not involved in Kechara or working within Kechara, what I express here could apply to you also. I hope it helps.
I hope this short write up on vows benefits many others who are holding vows of any kind and or intend to. Vows are sacred, have karmic effects and help us in our integrity to others and ourselves. Integrity is the key to our future with others and ourselves.
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