Thay’s Talk to the Volunteers (7)

Dear volunteers,

Today, I will continue to talk about the volunteering attitude toward our participants. I wish to share these thoughts with those in service, reception, or other volunteering groups.

I’ve shared with you a great concept that we should remember the hexagram Hàm to open our hearts like the surface of a mountain lake that reflects the entire sky. We open our hearts to accept all people without discriminating anyone, without prejudice, so that they will have the opportunity to connect with us.

In the last session, I also mentioned lovability. It means that we change our views to see all people as Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. They are Buddhas or Bodhisattvas to-be.

This session, I will talk about the hexagram Hằng. It is placed next to the hexagram Hàm. They both represent harmony in human relationship. While the hexagrams Càn and Khôn represent harmony of the universe, these hexagrams teach us how to live in harmony with our fellow human beings.

The most important principle in human relationship is having an open mind. The hexagrams Hằng and Hàm represent bonding commitment. What is bonding commitment? It is love. Love is bonding commitment. When we love somebody, we keep a lasting relationship with that person. They make mistakes but we forgive them. They may make mistakes again but we also forgive. And again and again, they will make mistakes but we will also forgive them. We forgive each other mistakes and built our happiness together. Thus, without the hexagram Hằng, the fabric of our family will crumble.

Bonding commitment here does not just express lovability but also love, caring, and on-going forgiving on our part. The word bonding commitment implies the concept of forgiveness. That makes the hexagram Hằng very special.

When we become a volunteer, we meet and talk to a lot of people. A normal conversation can be a simple question on any subjects, but many of them may not express their thoughts clearly. For example, one may like to see the exhibit but does not know where to start. Perhaps, one may be thirsty but does not say anything. They don’t say anything, don’t show any signs, but if we understand their mental states, listen to them, and pay attention to their situations, we will offer them water, and so on. Sometimes, they would like to ask something but can’t express it in words. How can we open up to their questions? This requires a lot of commitment, attention, and love. The extent of our moral conduct as volunteer is not just a few days but it will leave the impression of a lifetime. If we really want to help another, to express our love to another, it will not be just momentary. When we volunteer, we begin to find out if such bonding is permanent or it is just momentary.

This is the attitude that I’ve heard: “Master, he/she keeps on texting while working, keeps on talking at any chances, leaves as early as he/she can, or finds a moment to lax off.” Dear volunteers, we can do that elsewhere but it may be impossible to lax off in our Dharma Assembly. There are a lot of things that need our attention. However, in a deeper sense, the words above mean that we are not fully committed. While working, we become bored and have no interest in it. In another word, if we are mentally passive, doing repetitive works just to kill time, then we can’t be happy with ourselves. But when we can express our love to someone, we acquire an immense mental power from nowhere. We won’t feel bored or tired but fully energized to take more and more works. The day seems shorter so we want stay longer to talk more and share more with our coworkers. We find our joy in not just standing here and there or doing one or two things. No matter where we are, in or out, we accomplished each task with full energy.

Dear volunteers, when we know how to express our love, and truly do things on behalf of others, we have an extremely durable energy. That energy can’t be nurtured by Ginseng tonic or any other means but by our open hearts and true caring.

How can we be caring? – We work and see these fellow human beings as Bodhisattvas and incarnations of Buddhas, as if they are our guests and don’t look down on them. Keep that in mind, then we will be a little kinder.

In different circumstances, we have to think a little deeper. We must think these Bodhisattvas are testing us. They want to see how we open our hearts and minds.

Then we continue to think, what if these participants are, in fact, our parents or our family members? So we start to learn about filial piety. What do we do to make them happy? For example, we are in the Usher Team. When people arrive, we take them from the door, over the stairs, to the main hall. We should be thinking what to do to make them feel our love. To show filial piety, what should we be doing? If this person is our mother, what will we do? If they are our fathers or family members, what will we do for them? What does this person want? When we sense what they want or need, if they were our parents, what would we do? Sometime, we recall that we were not very good to our mothers in the old days when we were living with them. Now we should regard these people as our mothers to repent. This is a transcended form of loving our mothers. Now that we are mature, we would like our mothers to feel our love for them through our services for these people.

This hexagram Hằng refers to a strong and lasting love. We work not in a perfunctory way but wholeheartedly. We not only keep our love for three days but also for the days ahead. Next year, they will come back to see us again. If this thought is resolute in our minds, we will naturally feel what it means to volunteer for three days or ten days in this Amitabha Dharma Assembly. Thus we will see how meaningful these tasks are. Because we do not do the work outside to keep a happy front, but do the work inside us, we are cultivating our virtues, the virtues of resilience and flexibility, the long-lasting love – in a non-superficial way. We work with a committed realization that these people are truly connected to our lives. They are in our karmic webs. Thus we must make them happy as we do for our parents or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

I like that attitude because it has been mentioned in the Universal Virtue Sutra. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught us that seeing people in such a way can give us the ultimate strength and bring us the most fulfilling lives. Each time we volunteer, we will bond with people who seem strangers to us at first, but actually they belong to our karmic webs.

Thank you all for listening.

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