Thay’s talk to the Volunteers (5)

Yesterday I talked about the caring quality.  When we do volunteer work, we want to leave a favorable impression in people’s hearts and minds so that they will remember us for days or even for years.  The longer they remember us, the more successful we were in our tasks.  This is the first thought that will make us become more lovable, more harmonious so that people will understand and remember us more.


Caring (quan hoài) is the attitude of wanting to bring people into our hearts so that we will always remember them.  “Quan” is the gate, “hoài” relates to the heart.  We bring people through the gate of our heart and keep them in there.  This is the quality of the Bodhisattva.  Any Bodhisattva would want to cultivate good karma with living beings or always want them to feel the warmth of their caring.  “Hoài” here means to occupy with, to remember.  Not just in the heart but deep down in our belly.  In Vietnamese, heart means very deep inside, deep down in the mother’s womb where the baby lies.  That is the meaning of the word “Hoài”.  “Quan Hoài” or care means to keep deep inside.


Today, I will share with you another aspect of caring.  That is the aspect of the word “Hàm.”


“Hàm” is the 31st Hexagram in the I Ching, symbolized by the image of a mountain with a lake.  The lake’s surface reflects everything in the universe; there is nothing in the sky that it won’t reflect.  The lake’s surface does not reflect anything from below, but only reflects things from above.  What above is the highest truth, the boundless and limitless truth of the universe. It is the endless openness.  Therefore, caring  (quan hoài) is the infinite openness of our hearts. All that can be experienced from above, we welcome.  The mountain represents our ego, now we have to let go of that ego by reflecting, by the flow and the water of love.  When we open our hearts, our love will be opened like the lake.  The water of love will flow down.  Normally, the lake’s surface is frozen shut in the winter.  In the spring, the water begins to flow and the seeds buried deep inside the earth will germinate and grow into trees.  We can roughly call this event as “good fortune has arrived.”


For the cultivators, what is caring and good fortune? It means the chance for us to express our care has arrived.  This is the time when we open our hearts.  When you do volunteer work, you have to recognize that this is the opportunity for you to open your heart. This openness from above is like our hearts receiving infinity.  The more rain coming down, the better for the germination, the more people we welcome into our hearts, the better.  Therefore the attitude of a volunteer is to deny no one.  We need to cultivate this attitude of being interested in everyone.  We need to take practical actions like writing emails to thank the people that we have met during our volunteering time to let them know that we remember them.  If they gave you their phone numbers, call them up to thank them for coming and ask to see if they have anything they wish to share with you of their experience with the event.  This action shows that we care about them.


The important thing for the Ushers to remember is whomever you have come in contact with, you need to ask them if they can give you their addresses, then you would write a thank-you note to let them know what you thought of them and how much you valued meeting them.  This means that you don’t just come to volunteer then leave, but you should think that “because of their presence, you have the opportunity to serve, and you are very appreciative of that.” This attitude would change people because you have brought them into your heart.


Hence, this time, I suggest that all of us, especially the Ushers, should do this.  We either get their addresses or phone numbers then send them a thank you note.  This action will change how the people who attended the Assembly think because we truly care about them.  We could also call them up.  If you ask: “Dear Thầy, where do I find the money to buy all those thank-you cards?”  I have no idea, but just think, the fact that you would go buy all those cards or write all those emails would show how much you care for and appreciate those who came.


Therefore, I urge you all to really think about this and do all that you can to show that we don’t just do this for fun but we truly bring these people into our hearts and minds.

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