Our Relationship to Resources
Tony Steel’s provocative article suggests that we build on our own strengths to help create the causes and conditions to have a financially healthy center. Here are some more thought-starters for our consideration:
- Ask ourselves: Where do our resources come from?
- Ask ourselves: How do we create the causes for wealth?
- Make offerings to powerful objects (e.g., extensive offering practice as outlined by Lama Zopa Rinpoche; Merit Box practice; offerings to teachers, other centers, monasteries, and Sangha)
- Appreciate our benefactors (give thanks)
- Manage resources (e.g., meticulous record-keeping, preserving teachings)
- Examine the feng shui of our premises
If you or your center is challenged, suffering from a lack of resources, or could benefit from more resources, consider increasing your practice of generosity.
Generosity advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Be careful, watch your behavior with other people, and be kind.
Offering food to students at the center is a way of collecting a lot of merit because students are like the pores of the guru. Disciples of the same guru collect more merit from offering food to fellow disciples than from offering to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, numberless statues, and stupas. Anything you offer with this recognition – chocolate, water, or money – is an incredible way to collect merit. This is the easiest way to collect vast amounts of merit through offering. By offering even just one candy, flower, or grain of rice to a statue of Buddha or a visualized Buddha you collect vast amounts of merit, but offering to Sanghas who have the same guru is much more powerful than offering to the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), as well as all the statues, stupas, and scriptures existing in all directions. It doesn’t have to be only Sangha; the students can also be lay people. These benefits should be understood so that when you make offerings to the guru’s pores, you think correctly. This is the best way.
Sometimes centers don’t have much money, but if the director knows Dharma, he or she can very skillfully create merit without needing much money. Developing the center doesn’t only depend on the teacher, but on how you look after people. People can be made to feel welcome so they are attracted to come to the center or not. We must pay attention to this.
The essential thing is to make people happy, to serve them well. This helps to build up the center, to get material support very easily without pushing. The purpose, of course, is to have more facilities, because then the center has more ability to spread the Dharma and more comfort, so more people can enjoy and receive the Dharma, you can benefit them more, liberate them from oceans of samsaric suffering, and bring them to enlightenment.
You need to be aware of so many things. However, the key thing is to know how to take care of people. You must cherish every person who comes to the center, feel they are so precious, take care of them. Respect naturally comes from that, then caring, and the person is so happy. There are so many opportunities to collect merit for the center if you know the Dharma. Even just offering a bowl of water or cup of tea to a person, who is a student or disciple of the same guru as you, collects so much merit. This is one way to build up the center. Think big. This is a bodhisattva’s skillful means to benefit sentient beings.
From Practical Guide for Skillful Means, an FPMT manual.