In the last post in we talked about what is the vajra family and some methods for becoming a qualified member of the vajra family. Here I continue with some additional ways we can become more qualified.
- We need to abandon all attachment to others changing. Because we have patient acceptance, we find others to be perfect for our practice, just the way they are. If we have a personal vested interest in the other person changing and we are attached to them doing so, they will reject our advice even if it is exactly the advice they need. What good is it to be right if nobody will listen? People will only listen when they trust us, and they will only trust us when they know we are not going to try use them in some way for our own purposes, rather they know we are only there to support them in fulfilling their pure purposes.
- We also need to make it a priority to abandon all attachment to any member of our vajra family. Attachment is the mind that views others as a cause of our own happiness. Attachment’s sole function is to separate us from the object of our attachment. In the context of the Vajra family, the means it functions to create divisions and undermine the unity of the Sangha. Since our relationships together are so important, the stakes are so high, we cannot allow ourselves to allow our attachment towards each other to go unchecked. How do we deal with this? We try learn to love each other purely. Gen-la Dekyong said we do not abandon relationships because there is attachment in them, rather we redouble our efforts to love the other person purely. The normal distinction we draw between love and attachment is attachment says ‘I love you because you make ME happy’ whereas true love says, ‘I love you, how can I make YOU happy.’ A senior teacher once gave me a very clear test for whether our love for others is pure: we check whether we are thinking about and working towards the happiness of the other person in their future lives. If it is, then it is definitely not mixed up with interests of ourself and it is spiritually pure.
- We should abandon any attachment to results, individually, as a center or even as a tradition. It does not matter whether we see any results from our efforts, what matters is that we keep a happy mind of joyful effort. From joyful effort, good results will always come.
- We need to rejoice fully and often in whatever others do do, and not be unhappy about whatever others don’t do. For others, we need to just ignore what they don’t do and be genuinely grateful for what they do do. For ourself, we need to accept our weaknesses as weakness – accept that is simply where we are at and we then happily try to do better. We actively cultivate a feeling like we are all on the same side, the same team with no competition between us. The success of one is a success of all.
- Finally, we should strive to unite with the vajra family. This last one I would like to elaborate in more detail.
There are four levels of unity with the vajra family:
- Unity born from being polite and considerate to one another. From one perspective, this is very superficial and very external, but it is nonetheless a vital foundation for living harmoniously with your vajra family. Within any grouping, whether it is at work or at home or in a center, we should strive to meet all of the group expectations without anybody having to ask us to do so. We should always make a point of imposing zero cost on others and always give much more to the community than we ask of it. And above all, we need to never get angry at anyone – ever. If we do, we should sincerely apologize as soon as we have returned to a space where we can admit our mistakes.
- Unity born from a common purpose. We all share the same common purpose of wishing to liberate all living beings from samsara and lead them to enlightenment. We will each do this in our own way, but we all share the same purpose. Our purpose is necessary non-worldly. A fully qualified member of the vajra family will leave behind worldly conceptions, concerns and goals. We have nothing to accomplish in a worldly sense, but are focused exclusively on the accomplishment of spiritual goals. Worldly conceptions means viewing others or situations in a worldly way. We view everyone as Dakas and Dakinis and everything as the magical dance of Dorje Shugden. Worldly concerns themselves are the 8 worldly concerns. We are not interested in these, but only interested in creating good causes for ourselves and others. If we have unity of a common purpose, we will naturally be polite and considerate to one another because we understand we are all ‘members of the same family.’
- Unity born from a common view. A common view is attained when we discuss the Dharma, debate it and so forth amongst each other until we arrive at a commonly held view. We aggressively try address and work through all differences of view (as opposed to sweep them under the rug). By doing so, we all eventually come to the same final conclusions. This is one of the essential purposes of the different International Teacher Training Programs (the other being building strong karmic bonds of relationship with the other teachers, which serves as a karmic net holding the global tradition together). This is when everyone gets together and has these discussions. Since purpose derives from view, if we have a unity born from a common view, we will necessarily have unity born from a common purpose.
The fourth level of unity, the unity of being part of the same entity, I will explain in the next post in this series.