Thay’s talk to the Volunteers (1)

Dear all volunteers,

When volunteering our services, we need to think of the outcome of our work. What kind of result would we want to see?

We want all attendees to remember us for our dedicated services for weeks, months, or even years. We want them to think that we are very optimistic, devoted and enthusiastic volunteers whom they would like to befriend and come back again to meet, to talk to and to feel our warmth and care.

To achieve this result, what do we have to do? How can we impress those who come to pay respect to the Buddha and practice their cultivation? How can we leave good lasting images in their minds and make them feel warm and relaxed?

There are two important types of people. The first type includes those who are like uninvited guests in our heads; they live inside us and make us suffer. Those are the people that brought on our hatred, resentment, anger, sulking, love, jealousy, and so on.  This means that we are too attached to them; they stay in our heads whether we want to or not. Our heads become their free lodgings or free hotel rooms which they refuse to leave no matter what we do. In most cases, it’s because we invite them in. When we hate some people, we ask them to come into our heads, our nerve cells, and our memories. It is difficult to get rid of them. Once they are inside, they cannot leave due to some chemical reactions.

So when we hate or resent someone, we just overload our heads, or rather, our cerebrum, instead of our minds, preventing us from feeling relaxed and happy, depriving us from seeing the boundless sky. We have framed the paths of our brains and limited them to negative feelings. Our uninvited guests will make us unable to feel joyful or to smile easily with everyone.

Just imagine ourselves entering a room and seeing someone that we hate or resent; we cannot smile cheerfully to other people in there. We would feel uncomfortable right away. After a long time, that negative feeling can make us sick. Therefore, our responsibility as volunteers is not to become this type of person. We should become the second type.

What is the second type of people?  They are the people who make us feel very relaxed, joyful and happy when they enter our heads, when we remember them or think of them. They radiate lights in our heads. Lights are wisdom and warmth. We admire them and enjoy being close to them. They are not possessive and make us miserable. They give the light and warmth from their hearts as well as from their admirable and loving actions. These are the people of the lights, the type of people who liberate our brains, and open up our memory.  When we think of them, our memory will light up with happiness; the chemical in our brains will change to soften up their images.


When we serve or volunteer for an organization, a pagoda, a church, or at the Amitabha Dharma Assembly this year, we should become those who bring light, gentleness and smiles to other people. Surely you often remember going to a place where you were welcome with beautiful smiles, with gentle and kind voices, with caring people who held your hands and took you to where you wanted to go, and spent time to explain things to you with caring expression. These are folks that we will always remember even though we might not remember what the dharma master said or what we ate. We remember this type of people because they radiated light to our minds and made us feel very happy and relaxed.

The first type of people brings darkness while the second type brings light. We should try to emulate this second type in order to succeed in our volunteer services.

Someone reported to me: “Those volunteers did a great job during their service hours, but only gossiped during their off-hours.” People passing by can see clearly when volunteers behave badly, when their manners, words, and actions are not lovable, quite different from when they are working. It has been said that they are like the light when serving, but like the darkness when chit-chatting. Therefore your image is very important. You have to become a person of light, and try to convey a good image in people’s minds. That image will become your life, which means that you live truly with your actions for other people to feel the light.

We all make mistakes. But we can change from darkness to light. This is the most important virtue of volunteers. When volunteering our services, we should practice giving tender loving care to others so they can feel our warmth. Then we should do the same thing at home with our parents, spouses, children and other loved ones. These kinds of services will surely change our lives later on.

We should not always stay in darkness and be the first type of people, always negative. We must have hope. Therefore we engage in services to bring hope to our hearts and to the hearts of others. We want to prove that human beings always transcend and step out of their own swamps. Giving services is a very noble and beautiful virtue. It also presents a very important character in life: we can become the lights in other people’s heads, brains, and minds. We should try to constantly improve those lights in our heads, brains, and minds too.

Therefore, you volunteers should first think of ways to bring forth your beauties and radiate these beauties to the people you serve. This is the very basic philosophy of the virtue of services for those in the Usher Team, for those who serve to help others.

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