(Message from Principal Vipassana Teacher Sayagyi U Goenka.
Annual Dhamma service meeting. Dhamma Giri, India, 1988)
Companions on the path of Dhamma:
How can we share Vipassana practice for the benefit of many? As the work grows, more assistant teachers are appointed, more centers are established and more meditators give Dhamma service.
This growth is bound to continue. So it is essential that the work be properly organized, avoiding tendencies that weaken our work of sharing Vipassana in its purity.
At such a time in the growth of Dhamma we are at a crossroads: there is every danger of it turning into an organized religion, and then it will harm rather than help humanity. Once it becomes a sect the essence of Dhamma is gone.
This is a delicate situation. On one hand some discipline has to be maintained; on the other hand, if it merely turns into a hierarchy with everyone working within regimented rules, a sect will be established. And Vipassana practice is universal, nothing to do with any sect.
Sects arise when egos are predominant, when one’s position within the organization becomes of primary importance.
To give Dhamma service, you sacrifice comforts of home, professional work and time with family. But after this renunciation, if you then expect respect and appreciation from others, this is madness. This is where the personality cult and sectarianism starts.
More important is giving selfless service for the benefit of many.
Dhamma work is important, not your position in the organization. One should be happy with whatever Dhamma work one is asked, or not asked, to do.
You may say that you are working selflessly, but only you can judge this for yourself.
Two of the brahmavihāras — muditā (sympathetic joy) and karuṇā (compassion) — are for this purpose of self-examination. Sympathetic joy (mudita) and compassion (karuna) are yardsticks by which to measure whether one is really developing in Dhamma.
If one feels jealousy or enmity towards a fellow server because his or her service is greatly appreciated, then one is not really practicing Vipassana, and has not understood Dhamma. But if you generate sympathetic joy (muditā), you are progressing in Dhamma.
Conversely a fellow Dhamma server may make a mistake, or what you perceive to be a mistake. If you generate irritation or aversion towards this person, then you are going far away from Dhamma. But if your motivation is to help this companion who has slipped, then karunā is developing.
You may even say that you have no negativity towards this person. But if there is a pleasant feeling at another’s downfall, then you are far away from Dhamma.
Keep on examining yourself carefully, because nobody else can do this for you.
First establish yourself in Dhamma, and then you can serve others properly.
If selfless Dhamma service is important instead of this mad ego 'I', then certainly the ego is getting dissolved. However, if one is projecting one’s ego in the name of serving Dhamma, no one can benefit from such service.
If you keep examining yourself to see how much your ego is really getting dissolved, then you are fit to offer Dhamma service, to serve the Dhamma organization.
Over the next few days important work will be carried out to formulate the code of discipline for all those involved in Dhamma service. In such work, the individual ego has no importance because individuals may come and go. It is Dhamma that should remain most important in all your decision-making to serve people properly.
The only aim is bahujana-hitāya, bahujana-sukhāya. For the benefit of many, happiness of many. May more and more people benefit from practicing Vipassana, come out of misery and enjoy real peace and harmony.
I see a very bright future.
May all of you shine in this brightness with Dhamma, so that people get attracted to Vipassana.
May all of you be successful in Dhamma work, to selflessly serve suffering people everywhere.
Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ
May all beings be happy. May you be happy.