Thay talks to volunteers (2)
Dear all volunteers,
I mentioned briefly yesterday about what we want to accomplish when giving services. Today I’d like to add a second important characteristic that should be carried out soon after you join a service team. It is to convey all that is wonderful and interesting, all that you’ve understood, learned, and acquired from the Compassionate Service Society, your volunteer work, and your friends. This should be done promptly. It is a way to affirm yourselves.
When you join a volunteer service, first you need to understand clearly the significance of your job. You should pick up and read all available brochures and flyers. Volunteering is the way you advance on the path of ideology.
The Amitabha Dharma Assembly is where we would want all participants to be open, and to open their innate infinite lights. As human beings, we all make mistakes, have shortcomings, and face difficulties in life. But now we want to put them aside and only focus on how to open up what is bright, wonderful, and beautiful. Just like when we have a piece of weedy field, we have to get rid of the weeds and continue to plant the rice. We have yet to succeed if we only weed the field without planting the rice.
During the dharma assembly, it is not time for weeding. It is time for planting, for focusing on good influences. This is very important, because the more rice we cultivate and take care of, the less weed can grow. Hence we should make good use of every opportunity to emit lights.
Upon joining a volunteer team, we should focus on the do-good ideology to open our minds. While working together in the days and weeks ahead, we should share our good and positive points or experiences with others, as well as asking them to share theirs with us and with other attendees, new or old. This training period is not just for the dharma assembly but also for the rest of our lives. It focuses on developing our good qualities. The sharing of good experiences should be done promptly at any level.
Yesterday when I came here, I saw a volunteer adjusting some flower vases. Then an attendee walked to her and asked her something. She stopped what she was doing, talked to this person, took her hand and led her to the altar. It turned out that this person wanted to get a close look at the Buddhist altar, so the volunteer willingly took her there. That action was clearly one of caring. I saw it, and I’m sharing the story with you right away. You don’t need to wait till you’ve practiced for many years. We should promptly share all the good and beautiful things that we saw.
When we do volunteer services, work and cultivate together, if we don’t share all the good stories, then people will never know; instead, they will only focus on gossiping and talking about bad things. Therefore, we have to help each other develop all the goodness and beauty.
The second basic point is to share all the good things that we see from people around us and from all the volunteers. We should not look at their shortcomings. Just like when you enter a house, you don’t want to look at the cracks on the walls, the stains around the sink, the ugly corners, or spots on the carpet. On the contrary, we want to see things in general, the beautiful and interesting parts of the rooms.
It is not that we don’t want to look at the bad and the ugly; it is just not the right time yet. We should look at the good first, then gradually improve the bad. In addition, we should share what is good; there is no need to share what is bad, small, or petty.
So the second and most important characteristic in doing volunteer services is to share with each other all the good things we see in each other. Just yesterday, I saw so many good things from the volunteers of the San Jose Compassionate Service Society. You could see right away the beauty in what they did. You might say that seemed superficial. No, we might see it as superficial, but sharing is the depth of spirituality. Hence, the more we see the goodness in others, the more we should share. The more we interpret others’ inner minds, the more our minds improve. The more our minds improve, the more we attract those in search of beauty to us.
The best thing for a volunteer when joining a group is not to listen to gossips, but to share good things with others. For example, someone might say, “Oh, that so-and-so lives in a house like this; her husband is like that; her kids are like this; her business is like that, etc.”, then we should respond, “That’s not important. That’s normal for human beings. The good thing is that she’s here to give services and to share her good quality. The beauty I see in her is like this…” And we would list them out.
Dear volunteers, doing so will heighten our spirit day by day, not lower it. The biggest malady for us when joining a certain group is to focus on other people’s mistakes and criticize them because we want to find an ideal group. I have my faults; others around here have theirs. If we use those faults as an excuse to leave the group, to look for an ideal group or place, we will never find it because our minds are not set to improve, to radiate lights. We only look for security, for a safe place. We want to go to nirvana, to heaven, a place without faults; we want to look for a group without any stigma, a friend without any shortcomings. This can never happen in this universe, in this mundane world.
We can find beauty right in our minds and can share it with everybody. Our minds can see beauty in others. For example, while walking, you see a beautiful flower, so you look at it even though there are all kinds of trash around.
When you do volunteer services, you have chosen the path of sacrifice to find and share beauty. Our next step is to find beauty in the people around us, and promptly share it with friends and guests at our dharma assembly.