In the State Department, we rotate jobs every 2-3 years throughout our career. The rationale behind this is simple: the end goal they are after is forging us into Ambassadors, but an Ambassador needs to be good at everything. Normally, after spending 2-3 years in a given job, you have learned probably 80-90% of everything there is to learn about the job. Of course, you could always go deeper and become more of an expert, but the rate of learning shows diminishing returns. So it becomes time to move on and gain a new 80-90% set of skills doing something else. In short, moving around all of the time helps us avoid getting stuck in a rut.
An additional rationale for moving people around all of the time is to avoid the mistake of false universal assumptions. Very often, when we are in one place (or situation) for a long time we get assimilated into the view of that place. There are two dangers to this. First, we can start to mistakenly think that everybody must view things in the same way as they do where you are at; and second, you can start to believe that the view of this area is superior to all others and therefore lose your appreciation for multiple perspectives. In short, moving around all of the time helps us avoid being narrow-minded.
Within the human resources department, there is somebody called your “assignments officer.” Their job is to match the needs of the Department with your career development objectives all in the optic of a long-term plan of helping you cultivate all of the skills you will need to operate effectively at the highest levels.
When you think about it, this is exactly the same as what happens within the Kadampa family. The long-term goal is to train people up to become Ambassadors for all of the Buddhas (fully qualified Kadampa Spiritual Guides). We are all moved around again and again. Gen Lekma once said, “be wary of the day you get too comfortable, because that is the day Venerable Geshe-la will move you!” A lot of people looking at this process, particularly as it relates to Resident Teachers, from the outside mistakenly view these constant moves as “punishments” or view VGL as “vindictive.” Not at all! He is rather telling us it is time to move on to our next assignment. Sometimes we embrace this, sometimes we resist. Sometimes he asks us to go somewhere, sometimes he fires us. But the goal is always the same – it is time for us to move on so we can build new skills and realize new things.
For most Kadampas, however, we dont’ receive emails from VGL telling us where to go next. So are we deprived of having an enlightened assignments officer? No. Rather, our assignments officer is the Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden. His long term goal is to forge us int the Buddha we need to become, he knows what realizations we need to gain and in what order, and his job is to arrange all the outer and inner conditions we need to gain those realizations. Of course, we have to do our spiritual assignments, but Dorje Shugden arranges for us the assignments we need to take the next step on our spiritual path. Sometimes our moving on will be joyful and sometimes it will be traumatic, but in both cases it will be what we need to continue our spiritual growth.
Your turn: Describe a major career or life change you have gone through and what did you learn from making that change?