The time has come again for many to learn Vipassana, the practice of Dhamma. As Sayagyi U Ba Khin said, "The clock of Vipassana has struck."
Dhamma will spread because it is bound to, not because of the efforts of a particular person or group.
We are only fortunate to have the opportunity to develop our pāramīs (accumulation of meritorious actions) by doing whatever we can for the spread of Dhamma. We are only tools of Dhamma.
How swiftly things have been moving, and all because of Dhamma! Dhamma (the truth, the benevolent forces of nature) is so great, so powerful! It can give full competence to the most incompetent person, highest ability to one lacking all ability.
Dhamma finds the means to help those whose time has ripened to become liberated. Therefore, in the last fifteen years so many people have taken up the work of serving others by sharing Dhamma. And in this way Dhamma has spread not only in India but worldwide. It is only the beginning, a good, encouraging beginning.
Nothing is done single-handedly. From the first Vipassana course I conducted, people have come forward to organize, to manage, to make all the necessary arrangements. Course after course, students have given selfless service. Despite their many worldly responsibilities, they give time to work for the benefit of others.
|Vipassana sitting to mark laying foundation of Dhamma Giri pagoda,1976|
The management and the Teacher are like the two wheels of a cart, the two wings of a bird. Naturally, without the Teacher the management cannot help to spread the Dhamma. But neither can the Teacher give service for the spread of Dhamma without the support of the Dhamma servers. I feel so grateful to all those dedicated students who have been helping in whatever capacity.
Assistant teachers and Dhamma servers are equally important. Neither should feel that they play a greater role. Of course, when an assistant teacher sits on the Dhamma seat, the co-servers pay respect (to the Dhamma). By doing so they develop the good quality of respect for Dhamma, not for a person.
Anyone who sits on the Dhamma seat represents the Dhamma, the Buddha, the Sangha who maintained the technique through twenty five centuries in its pristine purity. Therefore, the servers pay respect with the awareness of sensations, the understanding of anicca, dukkha, anattā. With that base, pay respect and keep in mind that your job is to co-operate so that the Dhamma responsibility given to the assistant teacher bears good fruit.
|Early years (1970's), in the return of Vipassana to India. |
Principal Teacher Sayagyi U Goenka with Graham Gambie, one of the first assistant teachers
On the other hand, those sitting on the Dhamma seat should always feel humble, understanding that respect is being given not to them but rather to Dhamma, that they simply represent Dhamma. Whether server or teacher, our service is always for the sharing of Dhamma.
Both assistant teachers and Dhamma servers must work selflessly, without expecting anything in return. As the Buddha said, "Go your ways for the good of many, for the benefit of many, out of compassion for the world."
Every responsibility is equally important, every way of contributing is so valuable if the volition is simply to be of use in the work, to help more people benefit from Dhamma.
What do Dhamma servers gain in return? Why do they leave their homes and serve on courses? They receive no remuneration; they spend their own money for travelling and other expenses. They work without expecting even respect to be given to them. Their service is entirely selfless.
Similarly, what do the assistant teachers get? Even the respect shown them is actually for the Dhamma. Understanding this, assistant teachers will work expecting nothing - not even expecting respect and recognition. In this way, the wheel of Dhamma will keep rotating in its purity.
The Buddha said, "Share the Dhamma by making an example of your own pure way of life."
Preaching the right way without practicing it is meaningless.
Assistant teachers and Dhamma servers must understand the importance of leading a pure life, and of giving a good example to others. Always bear this in mind, whatever role you play in the Dhamma work.
Remain cautious in all your mental, physical and vocal actions. Live a life of purity for your own good and for the good of others.
If you live a life of purity, then faith in Dhamma will arise in those who lack it, and will increase in those who have practical faith in Dhamma. In this way you will attract more and more people to Dhamma, for their own benefit.
So long as the base of Dhamma is strong, your service will always be fruitful, whether you serve as an assistant teacher or in any other way.
Keep Dhamma strong within yourself by regular practice of Vipassana. By doing so you will be able to serve in the sharing of Dhamma effectively, for the good of many.
There is so much misery all around. If we can serve to enable even a few among the many who are suffering to wipe away their own tears, then we have paid back a little of our infinite debt of gratitude - to Dhamma, to the Buddha, to the Sangha, to the chain of teachers who have maintained the tradition from ancient times.
May you develop Dhamma strength. May you keep growing in Dhamma, and serve with purity and strength so that others can grow in Dhamma. May more and more people benefit from your service.
May the wheel of Dhamma keep rotating. May the light of Dhamma spread throughout the world. May the darkness of ignorance (of reality within oneself) be dispelled. May more and more people come out of their misery.
May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated!
Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ.