Thursday, 5 August 2010

Rapid Expansion and Growth

Up until I attended the Summer festival 2010 I had a certain opinion of this but my view was changed at the festival.
Previously I saw that there was growing emphasis on fundraising and voluntary work & I was concerned that in the future the tradition could become a group of people who engage in lots of work & thinking about money but with a completely ordinary mind. Although there isnt a danger of this now because the teachings are of the highest quality, it was a concern.
At the festival I was told that sponsored people will not be doing group study of Buddhist texts via the foundation or teacher training programs and that this is a new policy. This set off alarm bells for me that the amount of listening to Dharma, contemplating it as a group, discussion etc is reducing and being replaced with fundraising and long hours of work.
Then something happened that transformed my view of this.
It was in no doubt that this is from Geshe-la and we have all seen him teach & his sincerity. So then I began to think, why is the tradition more & more focused on work & fundraising.
The following was my conclusion.
Kadampa Buddhism has a certain set of views of the world. When someone sincerely practices it they will reach certain conclusions and their actions will reflect that.

It is easy to think as a Kadampa Buddhist who is a beginner that the entire tradition revolves around the people who have taken refuge in Buddha and that there is a hierarchy. If we are given an important job we almost feel as if we are moving from the position of stranger to friend. In other words when we meet a Kadampa Buddhist Lama like Geshe Kelsang we can think that we are more important to him than other people IE that HE has a concept of friends and strangers. Then we can become indignant and feel betrayed if we lose our position or are suddenly not treated with the special status we believe our teacher viewed us with. With any genuine Kadampa Spiritual Guide, there will be this happening because such a teachers view will be that its not who does a job its that the job is being done well and people will find problems that they are not being viewed as more important than others.

Great compassion
A qualified Kadampa Spiritual Guide will be familiar with the Lamrim deep in their heart. If they sincerely love every single living being equally they will find it unbearable that people do not know that Dharma exists. They will also find it unbearable that others are suffering needlessly. When people with exhaustible compassion are thinking, 'Now every country has at least 5 centres we can relax & just watch these centres will grow.' The spiritual guide will be thinking........this is just the warm up phase. This is because this teacher has deep familiarity with Lamrim. They wont slacken their efforts until every single person in this world at least knows whats on offer. Its not a matter of forcing Dharma on people it is a matter of choice. People cannot make any decision about Buddhism because 90% don't even know what it is. This teacher will not stop until everyone knows what Dharma is and that it exists in this world.
Because the ratio of people who know what Dharma is in this world is currently less than 10% this is why the priority is work and fundraising. Because our Kadampa Teacher is regarding those 90% people who don't know what Buddhism is as important as a self cherishing person regards oneself. He is finding what they are experiencing, unbearable. Therefore of course he is dynamic & dramatic. If he wasn't, could we really say that he cherishes all living beings? He has an experience of love and is acting upon it.
I can honestly say that I socialise with many everyday people and 99% do not know what Buddhism is. A Lamrim spiritual guide will be seeing these people as bound for hell realms for aeons. He will be seeing his own mothers losing out on an opportunity because of a lack of information exchange and then falling into hell. This is the Lamrim belief. So this is the reason expansion is so heavily emphasised. Because our teacher has totally immersed his mind with Lamrim and has tools that previous teachers did not such as aeroplanes and computers that can translate Dharma into 100 languages with a few button presses.
This is the understanding I came to at the festival.

Recognising the Obstacles
But there are obstacles that can arise. The main obstacle is the conclusions people will reach from seeing this. To an ordinary mind it looks very fanatical. People look like all they do is work to raise money and many people will misinterpret this. People will believe that Buddhism is about giving all your money and getting into debt as well as working long hours. In other words it will be seen as people being used & accepting it. Modern people are very extreme in being anti servitude, and when they see a process that looks undemocratic and like a dictatorship they will not even stay around long enough to learn what the Dharma is and we would have simply accomplished moving people from having a neutral opinion of Buddhism to a negative opinion of Buddhism.
Of course a workforce to publicise Buddhism & spread information needs to be controlled and dictated instructions. But when the messages become like a dictatorship of every single detail of that persons life for example that they are not allowed to do group study or dramatically sacking people for doing anything other than total obedience, this will not be accepted by modern people. Because freedom from oppression and creating a society where everyone is equal is a fundamental ethic of the modern world. People have worked for many generations to overcome the previous state of their countries which were oppressive feudal dictatorships. Oppressive leaders in the history of our countries bled the money out of the population as they worked like slaves in extreme poverty. Modern Buddhism needs to have an understanding of this ethic that modern people hold to. The ethic of democracy, freedom of speech and all people being equal. If our tradition accords with this and it does not appear to be a group of very servile people unable to say how they feel, living in poverty in an oppressive environment then this obstacle will not function. But it is important how we appear and this is a conclusion people have already stated. If we don't have this obstacle it will make a big difference & Buddhism will develop a very good reputation to those 90% people

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