My new Sangha

(I wrote this just after I started with the State Department)

There is something about Panda Express fortune cookies!  On Seferina’s birthday last summer, exactly one month before my OA exam, we went to Panda Express and my fortune cookie said ‘in one month the star of riches will shine on me’, which I understood to mean I would pass my OA exam and get into the foreign service.  Later we were at the food court at the mall and went to Panda Express and asked the fortune cookie for advice on our new life in the foreign service and it said ‘you will make many changes before happily settling’, which I understood to mean we will travel all over the world and then in our retirement happily settle in one area.  Then, when I got off of the plane upon arriving in D.C., right at the gate where I got off of the plane there was again a Panda Express.  Taking this as a sign, I got my lunch there and the fortune cookie said ‘you are heading in the right direction’, which I took to mean that Dorje Shugden is fully in charge and he has and will continue to arrange everything with respect to my life in the foreign service.

Yesterday, I had the welcome reception and today is my first day.  Of course, I can’t sleep and woke up every 30 minutes, so I just decided to get up and do my practice.  As I was doing my practice, it hit me very clearly that the U.S. foreign service community, the people and families within it, are my new Sangha, my new family.  When I was in Geneva, what drove me and provided meaning to everything I did there was for the benefit of the Sangha there.  I really felt like they were my extended family and my closest friends.  We investeded in contributing to that community of people.  In the same way, the US foreign service community is my new Sangha, and my job is to invest in contributing to this community of people.  I would before strive to gain the realizations that the Sangha in the Swiss Romand needed, now in the same wayI need to strive to gain the realizations that the people in this community need.  I need to learn how to transform diplomatic life into the path to enlightenement and present it in a way that others can accept and understand.  Obviously, I can’t go around teaching Dharma overtly, but I maintain this intention and view my life through this lens, and I will gain the realizations that they will need.  My job is to improve myself, my qualifications and my understandings to be of service to this community.  In the beginning, my job is to gain realizations that are useful for them for where they are at, then over time I will be able to help people with the psychological demands of foreign service life – which, at its core, can be addressed with viewing every difficulty as an opportunity to grow and develop as a person.  More immediately, though, I need to gain practical knowledge which helps the people of this community.  Each person has their own niche given their circumstances, and clearly my niche is going to be with respect to family life.  I should make a point of learning everything there is to learn about how to make a family thrive within a foreign service way of life.  This is knowledge which will be of great value to many people and help me build connections within this community.  In this respect, I need to start asking lots of questions of people with families to try start understanding things better and gaining wisdom which will be useful.  I should join the welcome committees for the 160th and have my focus be on helping families make the transition, etc.  It would not be a bad thing if I was known as the family guy, so I should start to move in that direction.

By extension, there are the six main skills they want foreign service officers to develop, and I need to practice the ‘perfection’ of each of these skills.  These skills are:  intellectual skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, management skills, communication skills and substantive knowledge.  These are the six perfections of being a diplomat, and I need to develop all of these with a bodhichitta movitation.  All six of these are skills that a fully qualified Kadampa Spiritual Guide must develop to be of benefit to the beings of this world, so I develop these skills in the context of being a diplomat and for the diplomatic community with the long-run intention of using these skills for flourishing the Dharma and helping lead beings along the Kadampa path.

In a similar way, Claudine needs to invest in this community and this niche.  Our job is to serve this community.  She needs to become for this community what Isabelle was for the Pays de Gex.  Isabelle was always there for others, always helping out, she knew everyone, she helped everyone, was always super cool, etc.  Isabelle should be Claudine’s Yidam.  She can get to know everything there is to know about family life, the services that are available, how to make the most of it, etc.  Also, since she will be a teacher at the schools, she will be educating the children of this community, etc.  In this respect, I think she should come here as soon as possible so that she can start investing in this community.

Part of our refuge commitments is to seek help from Sangha.  This has two implications for me.  First, Dorje Shugden has provided me with my new Sangha, the diplomatic community.  I need to actively seek the help of this community and gain as much wisdom from them as I can with respect to all aspects of this new life.  Second, I need to turn to my traditional Sangha and ask them for what advice they can offer me for how to make the most out of my new life.  Just as James Morgan would always ask me for advice of what to practice in the coming year, I should emulate his example and do the same of my Sangha.  Then, I should apply effort to put into practice the advice that they give me.

Your turn:  Explain how you can view the people at your work as being part of your Sangha.

7 thoughts on “My new Sangha

  1. I’ve worked with teams where it has been easy to build rapport and get along but the current team i am in is challenging.

    There are ‘walls’. Karmically built. They plaque the interactions of myself and fellow workers. I like all of the people i work with but as there has been periods of such ‘silence’ it is difficult to move past that. It’s basic karmic junk from who knows when.

    This has made me quite closed at work. There are many areas i would like to open myself up to and embrace new friendships but it can be difficult.

    There are sometimes when i judge others quite negatively so i vow not to do this, i try to remain with my pure view. Sometimes it is challenging.

    I see others at work as future members of my pureland in my ‘alone time’ at my desk. Each one of them is practicing pure view in my mind and they see me as the central deity. When they are deluded toward me or around me i imagine also that they are taking on the delusions of their own disciples. Yet this is somewhat difficult to maintain depending on if i myself am in the breeding ground of delusion or if i am tired/stressed with workload.

    Everything is great with people you have good karma with, because everything is naturally smooth, open, spacious and fun. Creating karma is where it is at, along with the practical aspects of cherishing others.

    But i keep in mind that ‘these people will soon be gone’, i can appreciate these moments and intend for something better next time we meet. Sometimes moving through tough karmic relationships is just about purifying it and reacting only with virtue.

  2. KR:
    Could you explain to me 2 things?
    the first one i am not sure about how to understand how you can consult on a fortune cookie ? is not like consulting a tarot cards?
    Does not confuse you to practice pure Dharma ?
    And the other one is how can you see all the people at your work like being
    part of your Sanga…i mean i know i have a lot of ignorance…is that from practising “pure view ” ?

  3. Hi Mariatonella

    KR is prob busy so i thought i’d reply.

    KR has illuminated to us his pure view and we can be confident in his immeasurable faith. As a pure Dorje Shugden practitioner, he sees ‘evidence’ of the protector working. This is not the same as believing in star signs.

    A pure practitioner asks themself, “how can i gain maximum benefit from how i view this situation?” the fact that the fortune cookie may or may not be absolute non-sense is not the point. The fact that a pure virtuous mind is stimulated as a result of pure view is what is important.

    If your spiritual guide tells you to jump off a cliff, you do not do so. You ask, “how can this provide maximum benefit to myself and others. How can what i see provide me with an opportunity to develop pure Lamrim minds”

    Objects are not pure from their own side, they are made pure from the mind of the subject mind.

    Also KR is living in an imagined Keajra so he can rightly call other people as Sangha, he learns, he gets help from all beings. He sees all beings as pure and part of his enlightened entourage. His view is that these fortunate beings around him will take rebirth when they die and enter his pureland. From this point of view they really will be ‘Sangha’ and practice the teachings of Buddha.

  4. JM:
    Thank you very much, i guess it is very clear to me now,sorry about my ignorance, i hope some day , it may be able for me to do that…pure view…will pray every day for this….have a great day.

  5. I wonder if you find any conflict working from such a cynical and bellicose organisation and working for world peace? How do you handle the dichotomy?Please understand this is not a criticism of you, but a genuine question my work conflicts with Kadam Dharma and it really conflicts me.

    • I try make a separation between possible mental imputations about the organization I work for and my own personal actions. Even if I was in the deepest hell surrounded by the most evil of deeds, that has no bearing whatsoever on my own actions. At the end of the day, my actions are what matter and only I can be the guardian of my own conscience. What others do around me does not contaminated me unless I allow it to by engaging in similar actions. The reality of my experience, though, has been nothing but positive. The people I find working for the State department are very sincere people who are trying to help out those around them. I have yet to see a single action of those who work with me that has been anything other than good (besides the usual goofiness that any office might have). I have never been asked to do anything that I find questionable. I think we can sometimes make the mistake of grasp at our political pre-conceptions as being inherently true.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply,I will try and learn from it. After all it is “only thinking makes it so.”

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