Thay talks to volunteers (6)
Today I will talk about an attitude that we must have as volunteers for the Amitabha Dharma Assembly, as well as for any other community services.
When we do well as volunteers, we will be good people. There is no way that a good volunteer will be a bad person in society or in his/her own family. To be that good, we need to have a culture or a way of sharing. Finally, I want to let you know that the spirit of service will help open up our hearts and minds like a lake on top of the mountain.
This lake reflects all things in the sky – the limitless universe appears on this serene surface. Similarly, our hearts and minds should open to receive everyone. Each person is like a drop of water from the rain, or a clump of clouds in the sky reflected on the lake’s surface; we would contain them all.
This is the spirit of service: to open up our hearts and minds to bring people in. The Usher team members have a very good suggestion. In order for people to know how dedicated the volunteers in the Usher team are, each volunteer will provide his/her attendees with a card that lists his/her name and phone number. The attendees will then be able to call up the volunteer anytime they have questions. For example, if they get lost while going to the restroom, misplace their shoes, have questions about the program for the next day, or want to know what I would be doing at 3 o’clock the next day, and they couldn’t find the ushers, they would then only need to pick up the phone and call the number on the cards. We will give these cards to all the guests so that whenever they have any questions, they can call the numbers listed.
It is a good idea to give the guests our phone numbers before we get theirs. The guests will look for us on their own. The interesting thing is that the more lovable you are, the more people will call you. Therefore, giving out these calling cards is a good way to show our care, but we have to be lovable. Without this quality, it is very hard for other people to approach us to talk for long.
What is lovability?
The first thing is not to denigrate other people. Sometimes, there are those who are not very well-dressed, or forgot to wash themselves, and so on; we should never criticize or belittle them. That is being lovable. We have to treat everyone like they are Buddhas, or Bodhisattvas. If we see everyone as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, our hearts and minds will be extremely opened. We will treat everyone with the utmost care and will see that this volunteering service is a complete success.
Therefore, the issue is how should we see them? The more we elevate others and think of ourselves as little ants, with nothing to be arrogant about, the better it is for us to serve others. We will see that this is the greatest joy.
That is the reason why, as soon as we open up our hearts, we need to practice lovability. To do that, we need to change our points of view and see others as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Long ago, people used the respect for one’s parents as example for how we should treat others. Nowadays, with the deteriorating relationship between parents and children, it is better to say that we should see others as Buddha and Bodhisattvas to avoid misunderstandings. We know for certain that anyone who walks in will be a Buddha in the future and he/she will remember us forever. Therefore, we should treat everyone with utmost care.
The ability to see the potential in other people without getting stuck in their appearances is a great ability. There are those who like to read others’ countenances to find out if they are rich or poor, good or bad. This is a very mistaken concept that keeps us in the world of drivel and gossip.
When we are here to serve at this Dharma Assembly, never think that others will steal or ruin our property. If they steal, they will have to give it back, if not in this lifetime then in the next lifetime. They are destructive because they lack love. Why do they lack love? It is because they lack understanding. Therefore, we should not worry about these issues. We should only be concerned that we might not have enough love to give, or we might not be lovable enough. We need to be lovable, and to do that, the first thing is for us to change our points of view. We should see others as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If your parents or siblings are lovable people then you should think of other people as your father, mother, or siblings.
To see the attendees as other than just guests is a very important viewpoint. Depending on the level of our viewpoints, we could change the course of our lives. Therefore, the Bodhisattvas have an old saying: “Bodhisattvas do not see living beings’ mistakes.” To be a Bodhisattva is never to see living beings’ errors. They can easily and quickly forgive these mistakes; that is why they are called Bodhisattvas.
Sometimes, difficulties arise because we have preconceived ideas about someone who just comes in: beautiful, good, or ugly, or because the elements – metal, wood, water, fire, and earth – are not in harmony. For example, if a volunteer who belongs to the metal element should meet a visitor who has the fire element, immediately one would antagonize the other. The volunteer should wisely diffuse the situation by gently smiling at the antagonizer, not resisting or arguing, just see this situation as a challenge and maintain his/her lovability. It is a challenge, and only Bodhisattvas would challenge us. If you think that way, you would not feel angry or any other negative feelings; sometimes because of that, you would resolve any difficulties more quickly.
In other words, where should the change in our points of view be? It is in the way we see all participants in this Amitabha Dharma Assembly as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as those who have countless merits, those who would sooner or later become Buddhas, or as the incarnations of Buddhas. We begin to change when we think that way. We change our viewpoints to give loving-kindness, and to be lovable.
This is the first aspect. I will continue to discuss this lovable aspect in the following talks.