In this post I will explain my understanding of how to become part of something bigger than ourselves. When we consider ourselves as this small, ordinary individual, then we are correct in feeling like we are nothing. But if we are part of something bigger than us, we are able to generate confidence from that larger entity – for example, being part of some large, powerful organization everybody benefits from that power. It is the same thing in the spiritual realm. The bigger thing we can become a part of is the vajra family. It is like we put our individual candles together, and we each benefit from the blazing sun this creates. First I will talk about what is the vajra family, then I will talk about how we can become a part of it – become a qualified member of it. In the next post I will elaborate more on how to become a qualified member of our vajra family by uniting with it.
What is the vajra family?
First, we need some background on the vajra family. Who is the head of the vajra family? It is Buddha Vajradhara, who is currently appearing to us as Geshe-la. What is the purpose/mission of the vajra family? Its ultimate purpose is to help all beings awaken themselves into the eternal, pure happiness of the Dharmakaya. The temporary purpose is to solve all the problems of all living beings for all their lives. What is the principal means by which this mission is accomplished? By changing our own mind – we seek to change the external by changing the internal, not the other way around. If I change my mind, I change the world since my mind projects it. We focus simply on practicing Dharma purely and helping others to do the same. Who are the members of the vajra family? They are the Spiritual guide, our teachers, our sangha, past, present and future; our students, past, present and future; our close karmic circle of family, friends, colleagues, and the people we interact with in our area. In short, the are in the broadest possible sense, the field of merit of all living beings.
How do we become a qualified member of the vajra family?
The Vajra family is open to everyone who wishes to be a part of it, so to become part of it, you simply have to want to do so. The relevant question then becomes what do we need to do to make ourselves a qualified member of this family?
So how do we become a qualified member of the vajra family? I this post I will discuss five different things we can do, and in the next post I will explain five more:
- Make a vajra commitment to take personal responsibility for the eventual enlightenment of each member of your vajra family. To our Spiritual Guide and teachers, we need to make a commitment to strive to fulfil their pure wishes that you share, the ones that resonate in our heart. This last point is very important. The Spiritual Guide has countless good wishes for living beings. At our current stage of development, we do not equally feel all of his good wishes. There are some of his pure wishes that particularly “speak to us” and “move our heart.” These are the ones we share with him. These are the ones we should focus our efforts on. We should not try force ourselves to work on wishes that we don’t (yet) share, because that can lead to all sorts of tension and resentments. Rather, we pursue the wishes we share, and in doing so the scope of our own wishes will expand until eventually we share all of his good wishes.
- We should strive to align our personal aspirations with those of the Spiritual Guide – make his aspirations your aspirations. Make what you want be what he wants.
- We should also strive to gain the realizations that we need to fulfil our commitment to our vajra family. For example, if we see those around us suffer from anger, we should gain the experience of using the Dharma to overcome our own anger. If we see those around us suffer from pride, we should gain the experience of using the Dharma to overcome our own pride. By practicing in this way, you will naturally gain the realizations that your vajra family will need, and then almost by osmosis of being in regular contact with the Sangha, everyone will benefit from your realization, which will help them overcome the same problems in their minds.
- It is also vitally important to accept yourself and others fully without guilt or judgement to create a space in which yourself and others can change and allow your good qualities to flourish. In an earlier post we talked about how the way our parents treated us influences how we treat ourselves which influences how we treat others. In the same way, we should study how our vajra father, the head of our Vajra Family, Buddha Vajradhara appearing as Je Tsongkhapa appearing as Venerable Geshe-la treats us. We should then treat ourself that way and then treat others accordingly. Remember it is a delusion to think that the members of your vajra family are anything other than perfect for our practice just the way they are. This doesn’t mean they are objectively perfect from their own side, rather this means that all of their faults and limitations are perfect for our practice, just the way they are. We don’t need them to change because we appreciate how they are perfect. If they do change for the better, then that is perfect too! It is all good. Basically, we need to have zero expectations and indeed desire that the members of our vajra family be any different. For me, the easiest way to accept everyone is to view them all as extensions of the body, speech and mind of the guru manifesting as Dorje Shugden’s enlightened deeds.
- If we are a teacher or a more senior member of a local Sangha, it is very important that we strive to help others accomplish their personally chosen spiritual goals, not manipulate them with the Dharma to get them to accomplish ‘our’ spiritual goals for them. We should not try to change others, rather we should just focus on changing ourself. We need to 100% respect people’s freedom to do as they choose, and in that space we demonstrate our good heart and intention. If we do this, people will naturally come and ask questions without us having to seek them out. When they do ask of us, we seek only to give them the information they need to use their freedom wisely – we help them understand the consequences of their actions. Because we have patient acceptance, we do not resist anything and do not need them to make any particular choice because we know how to use it all for our practice. When we have this mind, we amazingly no longer feel the need to push anybody away because they are faulty or deluded. What freedom!