We watched recently a documentary about the election of Barack Obama. It was a behind the scenes look at the people who actually ran and executed the campaign. There were thousands of 20-somethings who volunteered themselves 15-20 hours a day over a period of 20 months to get him elected. While they were exhausted, they felt like they were contributing to something of great meaning, they felt like they were fulfilling a higher purpose. And so they did so joyfully and with genuine enthusiasm. In many ways, you can say it was they who got him elected.
This reveals a great many things. First, Obama in his previous lives must have volunteered himself smililarly hard and enthusiastically thousands and thousands of times (or perhaps once with a bodihchitta motivation, which would have the same karmic effect, such is the power of bodhichitta…) to help others fulfill their wishes. This is what created the karma to have all these people help him. If he didn’t have such karma, they wouldn’t have worked for him and he never would have gotten elected. Second, when people feel like they are fulfilling a higher purpose and their project is one of great meaning, then even if they are working very hard and long hours, they do so joyfully and enthusiastically. It is not the financial rewards or the status that motivates good people, it is the meaning of the purpose for which they work which drives them.
So how does this then apply to us?
- First, if in the future we want to accomplish the project of liberating all beings, we will need a lot of help to get the job done. Like Obama, we will need many many volunteers who will help us out. How do we get these volunteers? By ourselves volunteering to help others fulfill their virtuous wishes. If we do this with a bodhichitta motivation, understanding how our activities will benefit countless beings in countless future generations, then it karmically multiplies the value of our volunteerism. For me personally, I have always been very bad at this. I am happy to work on my projects, but I have always been bad about volunteering myself to help others accomplish their projects. If I continue like this, in the future even if I have a virtuous wish, I will have nobody to help me fulfill it.
- In our own lives, we need to see how our activities are building towards fulfilling a higher purpose. It is this higher purpose which will give us literally unlimited energy to work hard and keep going, and to do so enthusiastically and joyfully. What higher purpose can there be than bodhichitta? What higher purpose can there be than the project of building a pure land in which all living beings can take rebirth and complete the path? If I grow tired or I lose my enthusiasm to work, it is because I have strayed from this purpose.
- We have an incredible opportunity to right here and right now be like a volunteer for Barack Obama, but instead of volunteering to work work to fulfill a politician’s worldly purposes (even a virtuous politican’s virtuous worldly purposes), we can volunteer to work to fulfill the living Je Tsongkhapa’s spiritual purposes in this world. VGL’s wish and project is a ‘campaign’ to lead all beings to enlightenment. His project is give people everything they need and to inspire them to take up the path which will permanently free them and all that they love from all suffering. What can be more meaningful than that? If we feel anything less than joy and enthusiasm in our work for fulfilling VGL’s wishes, it is because we do not really share them or we are not really working to fulfill his wishes, but rather our own. If we do the work to put our mind genuinely behind this wish, then we will find literally endless energy to work continuously towards this end. Even if our motivation is not perfect, the nature of the object towards which we work is so pure that the karma we create by volunteering ourselves is limitless.
- We need to rely upon Dorje Shugden as the ‘campaign manager’, or our boss, in terms of assigning us our individual task. The campaign manager has the big picture in mind, and his job is to assign work to the volunteers so as collectively their efforts produce the final result. So we should request him to reveal to us and arrange the conditions for us to assume our job in the spritual campaign. In ALL situations, our number one job is ALWAYS to gain Dharma realizations. Externally, my current situation is I can help through caring for my family. If I provide a good childhood for 5 kids, then I create the causes to be reborn at least five times in good families. This will make a big difference in terms of my future. Likewise, I am making this blog/website so that I have access to ample good teachings in the future (assuming what I have to say is good, that is!!! hee hee). I am trying to learn how to transform a very normal life into a deep spiritual retreat, which I hope will benefit countless living beings in the future who live ‘normal’ lives. This seems to be the conditions Dorje Shugden, my campaign manager, has arranged for me.
Conclusion: I need to see my living my life as my volunteering myself to fulfill the virtuous wishes of VGL in his project/campaign to liberate all living beings. If I maintain this recognition as the purpose behind all of my actions and the context of my life, then this is the karma I will create.