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Nov 12, 2009

Global Pagoda: the Value of Dhamma Service

The Global Pagoda is a testimony to the persistent, selfless Dhamma service of many for over a decade. Voluntary Dhamma service is an essential part of growth in Dhamma through Vipassana - the universal, practical path towards freedom from all suffering. There is no greater joy and happiness than in sharing with all beings the merits one has gained, by sharing without expecting anything in return.

The following is based on a talk given by Principal teacher of Vipassana Sayagyi U S.N. Goenka for ten-day students in Kathmandu on 15 April 2000:

You have completed a ten-day Vipassana course. But this is not enough. Now you have to learn how to apply it in your day-to-day life. When you go out, you will have to face the world. And whatever equanimity you have learned here, see that you apply it in your life in spite of all the difficult situations. You know, and I also know, that the world is such that it is so difficult to maintain equanimity in life. But this is what you have to learn.

For that, one important way is that you learn to apply equanimity in an atmosphere of a Dhamma centre where a course is going on. You can come for some time whenever you are free and give service, ten days of Dhamma service. The atmosphere here is definitely better than the atmosphere outside. Outside, the entire atmosphere is full of negativities. Here, the students who come will also generate negativity time and again. But the atmosphere will not be so strong. You can face it. So first, you learn in a Dhamma centre how to remain equanimous dealing with people who are generating negativity. This is a training ground for you.

And moreover, you will not be serving the entire day. Whenever you are free, you have an opportunity to meditate. This is how you will strengthen yourself.
Besides this, there are many other benefits of giving Dhamma service. One important benefit is that you will develop your pāramīs. It is only your pāramīs that will take you to the final goal. And you get a good opportunity here while you are serving people to develop your pāramīs.

One pāramī you will develop is mettā. Whenever you serve people, naturally you generate mettā for them, love and compassion for them. And that helps you to develop your own pāramī of mettā.

Another important pāramī, especially for a householder, is the pāramī of dāna. It is a very important pāramī. When you give dāna of money and of other things required by people in the world, this is good. But here the dāna is the dāna of Dhamma, the greatest dāna in the world.

Why is it the greatest? Because the law of nature is such that whatever the seeds you plant the fruit will be exactly according to that and multiplied. When you give food to somebody, then in return when the time ripens, you will get food in bigger quantities.

You are now joining a course to give Dhamma. Of course, the teacher gives Dhamma. And it takes time for someone to reach the stage of becoming a full-fledged teacher or even an assistant teacher. But still you can be a partner in this Dhamma service, in this dhamma-dāna.

Understand, a teacher cannot give dhamma-dāna unless there are proper facilities. So those people who are helping to construct proper facilities are also partners in giving Dhamma. Similarly, Dhamma cannot be given if the management is not proper. So those who are managing a Dhamma course are also partners in dhamma-dāna. And so also, Dhamma cannot be given unless there are good Dhamma workers to help. So, you are also becoming a partner. And you get the benefit of this.

And I know, from my own experience, how much benefit one gets. From the time I finished my first course until I was appointed a full-fledged teacher after fourteen years, I kept going to my teacher and to the centre to give Dhamma service. I benefited immensely.

Similarly, the students who give Dhamma service keep on reporting to me that, "By giving one ten-day Dhamma service, I received so much benefit."

When you plant the seed of Dhamma and giving the dāna of Dhamma is planting the seed of Dhamma you receive a large quantity of Dhamma in return for yourself. Your Dhamma becomes stronger and stronger. This is a very good benefit you are going to get by giving Dhamma service.

Another big benefit is that you get so much satisfaction. When you received Dhamma, so many Dhamma workers served you. Now you feel that you are paying your debt of gratitude by serving other people in the same way. "Others have served me. Now I better serve others." This is a great satisfaction.

Another great satisfaction is that at the end of serving a course, you will feel so much joy. And this is not ordinary joy. This is a very sublime joy, muditā, sympathetic joy. You notice when people join the course, their faces are full of melancholy, sadness, having this kind of misery or that kind of misery. But on the tenth day, when they leave the course, there is a glow on their faces, so much happiness and so much joy. And when you generate sympathetic joy, you also become so happy. This is a great advantage of Dhamma service.

Dhamma is not only for your own liberation. Of course, the teaching of the Buddha is that you liberate yourself, but at the same time, you help others to get liberated. And you are doing the same thing by giving Dhamma service. You are trying to liberate yourself from misery and you are helping others to get liberated from misery.
Therefore, I keep on advising my students that they must find time to give Dhamma service for at least one ten-day course. As you find time to take your own ten-day course, similarly it is very important to give service for one ten-day course.

At times, you cannot find ten days. All right, then serve as many days as possible. Maybe during the weekend you can come for two days. You may discuss this with the management, and if they agree, you can come for two or three days or even one day and give service. Service is always good for you.

May you all develop in Dhamma, get established in Dhamma, for your good, and for the good of so many others. May you all keep on growing in Dhamma, may you all keep on glowing in Dhamma.
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N.B: Vipassana students are generally permitted to offer dana (donation) of Dhamma service after completion of three 10-day courses.
Dana of money and kind can be offered by any grateful student at the end of a Vipassana course, provided if he or she has benefited from the path and shares the volition that others too should likewise benefit and be happy.

* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Directions to reach the Global Pagoda, Gorai / Borivili, Mumbai
* Global Pagoda developmental projects