Practical steps for making manifest a center in our life
Dharma centers are important, very important. But they arise only in dependence upon many different causes and conditions and they take on a variety of different forms. If for whatever reason we do not have regular access to one we should take it as a sign that our job is to create the causes and conditions for one to appear in a way that we are able to easily and happily partake of it.
The primary cause for the appearance of a Dharma center in our life is the strong wish for it to do so. If we don’t have this wish, even if we physically live in one, a “Dharma center” will not appear in our life. To help us develop this wish, we can consider what Geshe-la has said about Dharma centers.
To begin, I would like to tell you that everybody should recognize how important Dharma centers are. Teachers, managers and students should recognize that Dharma centers are extremely important for ourselves, our families and the general public. Without Dharma centers, it is very difficult to maintain a pure spiritual life. It is close to impossible to maintain a Bodhisattva’s way of life. Without maintaining a Buddhist way of life, it is difficult to make progress on the spiritual path which gives us the real meaning of our human life. … With a connection to a Dharma center, we have the possibility to improve ourselves thanks to the Dharma. Without Dharma centers, a meaningful life is difficult to find for ourselves, our family and others. First, we must enjoy being in a Dharma center. Then, everyone else, such as our parents, the other members of our family and our friends, will understand that we are happy, then they will rejoice for us and create a link with us.
Sometimes those who do not have regular access to a Dharma center can fall into the extreme of thinking Dharma centers are not important. This is wrong. As Geshe-la says, we must all recognize the importance of Dharma centers while we accept that our presently not having regular access to one is exactly perfect for our spiritual development. Why? Because of the opportunities not having one gives us to create the causes to have one appear in our life.
If we don’t have a Dharma center in our area, do what it takes to set one up. Find other people in the area who are also interested in setting up a center and work with them to make it happen. Contact the NKT office and ask them if they know of anybody else in our area who has expressed similar interest. Write Geshe-la requesting a teacher be sent. Invite the nearest National Spiritual Director to come give a public talk. Start doing pujas together, even if it is just two of you (or even if you are alone). Imagine that all of the people of your city are doing the pujas with you, making the strong request for a Dharma center to appear in your city. Geshe-la has said his vision is for there to eventually be a Kadampa temple in every major city of the world. This happening in our city may very well depend upon our personal wish.
There was a woman in Santa Barbara whose name was Lea. She was all alone in her wish to establish a center, but she nurtured it and did everything it took to make it happen. Through her unwavering wish and unending hard work, a center was eventually established in Santa Barbara. Then Geshe-la came and did a California tour, and he wrote part of Essence of Vajrayana at this center. Because that center was established, the Dharma came to Southern California. From that center, eventually Los Angeles opened up as a “branch” of Santa Barbara. Now there is a thriving spiritual community in the greater L.A. area, and this is just the beginning. If the center in Santa Barbara did not exist, I would not be in the Dharma today. If Lea had not had her initial wish, none of what currently exists and none of what is to come in Southern California would be. It is said that the merit we accumulate from helping our Dharma center continues to grow for as long as the center exists. The story of Lea and the Dharma in Southern California shows us how.