Dharma work, attitude & TDL
Please take a look at this above video I did today for you. I hope it will bring you more light…..
Today I was at the beach in East Coast of Malaysia and decided to share how I arrived at Thubten Dhargye Ling Dharma Centre in Los Angeles when I was 17 years old. I also have shared my thoughts on Dharma work. I thought my sharing might help some people. After all we are all humans and have our thoughts, feelings and emotions right or wrong.
Dharma work is something of a blessing, privilege and honour. We should never do Dharma work thinking we are doing the centre, our guru, others and Buddha a favour. If we think like that then even offering flowers and incense to the Buddha is doing Buddha a favour?? Not so. We are not doing anyone a favour if we think we are doing them a favour…in fact, it defeats the whole purpose because of wrong thinking. If we need to help people who need to cross a dangerous river daily by building a bridge, we can build it ourselves but it can take much longer. If we join forces with others, then the bridge can be completed much faster with less effort. Joining in the Dharma work of a centre is like the example I just gave with the bridge. When we do Dharma work, we must act in accordance with the Dharma. We must have integrity, discipline, drive, commitment and honesty. Then the work really becomes Dharma and something to help us bring happiness to others and ourselves eventually. Dharma work places should not become places to dump our anger, frustrations and emotions forcing others to confront our unhappiness in our lives by asking for attention and not applying a solution. Of course our Dharma friends will listen and try to help, but ultimately we must apply the true solutions/remedies to get results. When we throw tantrums, demand special attention, do not complete our work, do not fulfill our promises, then whatever you are doing is not Dharma work. How could it be? It is work that could be Dharma but you made it into work that harms yourself and others.
Dharma people are generally more tolerant, forgiving, patient, kind but we should not take advantage of this. The problems you have in your romance, family, kids, husbands, wives, partners, friends, etc. were not created by your Dharma friends, so do not blame them. Do not expect them to be the object of your unhappiness with the situations you created yourself. Do not ask Dharma, your teacher, your friends to solve your problems. You must apply the Dharma and solve your problems. If you are always throwing tantrums, blaming others, complaining and making others uncomfortable, then you will make yourself unwelcome wherever you go. No one deserves to be lonely and sad. So do not create the situations to become lonely. When you do Dharma work, then do your work with a smiling face, good attitude and a disposition that make others happy to have you. That is your training. Training your mind to become something that other people will want you is the challenge worth taking.
Dharma work is NOT WHAT OTHERS CAN GIVE YOU OR WHAT YOU CAN DEMAND, but what you give others quietly and without complaints……dharma work is about giving. Giving from all levels is what really brings love, contenments and respect…what we all want and need… Dharma is about rooting out our selfish mind that brought us all our problems in the first place. Dharma teaches us the truth about ourselves and we should face it and do something about it before it’s too late…When we have so much support and care around us and we ‘cannot’ solve our problems, how to solve it alone and away? But sometimes being away makes us realize what we missed and it could be positive..it’s different for everyone.
We should never blame others in our work. We should never push responsibilities onto others. We should never ask others to solve our problems and make them listen to our stories for hours with no end, when we created the problems and only we can solve it. We should not threaten others we will quit, or leave or will not participate because that is the same as telling Lord Buddha you quit and you don’t want to ‘help’ Buddha. That sounds ridiculous by any standards. If you wish to quit to take care of your problems and maybe later do Dharma work again, then do so quietly and without complaining or gossiping or making up stories to cover your shame, failure and embarrassment. If you do so, then you close the doors for yourself to return and you end up alone again..you end up back to square one.
Please remember, no one forced you to do Dharma work. You chose it. So if you choose Dharma work and joined an organization or dept, then it has rules and parameters from past experiences to safeguard everyone for the future. It’s like if there’s a stretch of road that is slippery, then a sign can be put up to warn drivers and also to lower the speed. To lower the speed is not a rule to make you suffer or control you but to protect you. Similarily within any Dharma organizations there are unique ways of doing things that have evolved over time, so do not just think it’s useless and throw it to the wind and act as you like… After all, have you ever run a Dharma centre or managed many people? If you haven’t then you have to realize the rules are to help you, others and the work long term. Not all rules are perfect, but with time they can be perfected. Nothing is perfect after all. But important to know that if you have the merits to do Dharma work, then your attitude must adjust with it. How can you touch statues, thangkas, offerings, attend teachings, give talks, do rituals, do prayers and be involved with work everyday that is meant to relieve others of sufferings when you add to their sufferings by your attitude? That wouldn’t do would it? How can you join Dharma and act the same or worse than before you have joined Dharma? That doesn’t make sense either please….. I wrote all this for you to self examine and not to judge you or criticize you…definitely to help you examine. I examine myself always. I don’t always like what I see, but I do something about it because I know it will bring me trouble later and I don’t want trouble…. Doing something about what we don’t like in ourselves is Dharma. Repaying the Guru’s kindness in the highest manner is to transform ourselves. If we appreciate our Guru, then show it with transformation, everything else is an excuse. Dharma work is meant to transform ourselves for the benefit of ourselves and others….Not to make us worse.
If you are volunteering, then how wonderful you sponsor yourself a stipend to work for the Dharma. Then your giving of yourself to Dharma is thorough. Rejoice. You have the fortune to take care of yourself so the Dharma does not need to find more help to help you. You help yourself to help others…so wonderful if you can do that…What you do not need in stipend, can be used for someone else to do Dharma work, how kind of you to allow this chain reaction….
If you are on stipend because you wish to do Dharma work and cannot afford to, then you are so lucky that Dharma pays you to transform and collect merit. Think about it..you are being paid to be a good person, generate good qualities, do work to benefit others, to attend teachings, to have the honour to work with other selfless people, to give meaning to your lives, to dedicate merits for your loved ones, to be in an environment that aims to better society and others…You are being paid to become enlightened..how lucky you are??? If you are collecting a stipend, you are not bad, it’s because you need to, so be grateful, humble, work hard, nurture others, be generous in your time/effort/work, do not make trouble, or burden others ever. No one is paying you to make others suffer more..People come to the dharma to find some peace and wisdom, not for a stipened person of the Dharma to burden them more with problems and confusion…take the stipend with open hands and also give back with open hands…You are lucky to be paid to benefit others…please think……I rejoice for you to do Dharma work either way. I truly do.
If really you leave Dharma work for now whether as a volunteer or stipend staff, you didn’t leave Dharma or your centre. You should continue to really practice Dharma so you can overcome your obscurations. You should be involved in the centre, pujas, teachings and activities. Why? Because you need it very much. You may be embarrassed at first, but your face loss for the moment is worth your continuation of your Dharma learning and participation. Face is nothing and Dharma is everything. So even if you are not doing Dharma work per se, you should not abandon anything else in the Dharma ever…
For any reason that is beyond our control that we must ‘leave’ Dharma work, then be grateful. Do not be sneaky. Do not keep quiet. Do not just take and pretend you are staying. But talk to the person in charge. Be honest. Let your Dharma co-workers know. Make them feel worth the effort they put towards you. Do not keep quiet till the last minute, sneak away and do not want to face so many that have been kind to you because you have no gratitude, no appreciation and you take and don’t give. Courage is appreciation. If you do not have appreciation, then anywhere you go, you will be not respected. Places and faces can change, but results will be the same. Wherever you plant apple trees, it will be apples that grow and not oranges. So if you need to leave, then leave in a way that is honest, respectful and do not treat your Dharma work just as a job. Try your best to find a replacement. Do not just leave an empty space and let others fill it. Your job and what you are doing will be left to others to cover. If you are sincere about your Dharma practice and Dharma work, then you will do your best to make sure what you are leaving does not burden anyone else. Do not owe money, debts or leave a bad taste in other people’s mouth. Because then it’s like abandoning the best thing in your life and then just rubbing more insult into the wound.
If you have the honour to sponsor Dharma, then do not treat the Dharma like a racehorse expecting it to win and bring you returns. The returns you want and what you get can be different, maybe better. Do not control others with your money. Dharma centres/actitivities/people need your sponsorship and appreciate it. But your attitude should not be a King or Queen waltzing into the Dharma centre because you are a sponsor. A sponsor should be all the more humble, gracious and never show off what you gave and expect gratitude. Your reward and ‘payment’ of gratitude is the lives Dharma has touched because of you…. If the Dharma, centre and activities are growing, that is your reward. That is the true reward. You would have most likely used your money for more samsaric acquisitions, but when you sponsor the Dharma you are doing something so excellent, that the Dharma is doing you a favour to allow you to sponsor it…think about it.
Sponsoring monks, teachers and the gurus is a unique position to be in. You have the direct affinity to help your teacher in their work…how beautiful is that? You get to relieve some burdens from your teachers’s mind in raising funds for their noble projects. How wonderful to relieve the minds of people who uphold the Dharma, share knowledge with you and give your life true purpose. All the wealth in the universe is not enough of an offering to one who shows you the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is priceless. Liberation from all suffering is priceless. So if you can support a person who does this for others, how great is your luck to chance upon this..I am not saying sponsors deserve nothing and just offer, offer, and offer. What I am saying is when the sponsor offers with no expectations, then the true teacher will recognize this, the love and blessings to the sponsor will be manifold. No true teacher will not take care of such a sponsor. Sponsors should trust. Sponsors do not need to feel jealous, or compete or demand because if you expect your teacher to take care of all this, you think very lowly of your teacher. Offer more than funds, offer your practice..that is the greatest and highest form of supporting your teacher.
From my side, I appreciate the sponsors deeply and my wish to benefit them goes into not just this life, but future lives. Without sponsorship, how can any centre grow, reach out or do any of their noble works. From my heart, I thank and appreciate sponsors so much as with any teacher I am sure. A good relationships comes between sponsor and teacher when both just do their work with the intent to benefit others and nothing else…….what a wonderful partnership.
Your teacher will use your sponsorship to the best of their judgement, leave it to them and do not demand reports, special favours, special attention, special exceptions. If you do, it will make others lose respect for you. After sponsoring, why would you want others to lose respect in you because of petty behaviours. Be a shining example of generosity without control, strings, conditions, doubt and demands. Then you become a true sponsor of the Dharma acquiring merits to bring great spiritual returns. Sponsors should get involved with Dharma work and see it to the end, after all why ‘invest’ in something and not see it all the way through? How much and how often you sponsor should be done with 100% motivation to benefit without demands….that is good training. Dharma is not a business and the people involved are not business people. Before you sponsor, make sure it is the place you have confidence in. Check it thoroughly. Whatever you promise to sponsor, then do so and show your integrity as a sign of your spirituality. Do not make empty promises, because that leads you to the wrong type of emptiness…..It disappoints others deeply….Sponsors are very kind….for sure….for very sure…
Doing Dharma work helps us to collect merits and the benefits are far reaching on many levels…. Do not make it into a situation where you collect demerits, more negative karma and strengthen your negative habituations. You must transform your mind in order to do Dharma work and for it to be really Dharma, otherwise it is just work like any other work in Samsara. Please think about what I have said….I am not here to criticize you or accuse, but to lay the cards out on the table straight and honestly. Please see it as that and not something to hurt you or accuse you. Of course there are many who really do Dharma work and inspire me and many others. To them I fold my hands in humility and I thank them.
Sometimes in the Dharma centres you come across people who know their stuff, memorized the prayers, are fast, been around for many years, volunteer alot, know alot of the history of the centre yet they are not nice. They are jealous, nasty, very competitive, mooch money from you, borrow and not give back, use sweet Dharma words with bad motive to get something else, gossipy, schismatic, and really turn alot of people off. Your question might be HOW COME THIS IS ALLOWED OR WHY LIKE THAT??? Well there are going to be people who listen, apply and practice the Dharma and there are going to be people who don’t. That is what makes up a centre…Just like in a hospital you come across caring and sincere nurses as well as nurses who don’t care. So when you come across these people and they have been hurtful to you, you may speak up to them and be firm. Ask them not to treat you this way or that way. You can speak up and it does not make you bad.. Being compassionate does not mean being the object of unnecessary abuse from anyone centre or not… These people are in the centre because if they weren’t they would be worse off. It is the compassion of the teacher and members that allow them to stay. So you can generate compassion towards them and keep a safe distance if necessary. There have been instances in every centre where certain people really do things that are very bad forcing the centre to ask them to go for a retreat, or just please do not get involved in the centre because their harm is way beyond any parameters. There are all types of people in a centre…but one should not judge the Dharma on their basis. There are people who come to a centre with totally a non-spiritual goal and maybe to use the centre or members…that does happen unfortunately sad to say…..We must be alert to protect the centre from people who’s intentions are harmful by taking appropriate actions according to the law of the land. I mention the truth/reality and it may shock some of you, but welcome to the real world…I am sorry. In a hospital there will be people who benefit and live from treatment, but some do not. Yet medical treatment for others must continue. Watch yourself and judge yourself when in the Dharma as your goal is peace, wisdom and liberation….
Please do not take offense in what I have written, I wrote it to clarify. Not to accuse or say everyone is like this or that. From what I wrote, you take what applies to you if anything. If it doesn’t apply, I still have a duty to explain and share on the attitude behind Dharma work. If you understand, then everyone will have a better relationship with eachother and that is what I want.
I thank you,
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