From 1980: The teachings are all about you! by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:
The second international meeting of the Council for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (CPMT) ran at Kopan from 4 January to 15 January 1980. In addition to the meetings, the event also included a retreat. Lama Yeshe told the directors he wanted to get the geshes in the centers thinking about new ways of teaching the Dharma, such as to specific age groups or special-interest groups.
During this meeting a maturing CPMT drew up the following mission statement:
“Without Dharma, sentient beings lack the true means to happiness. The Mahayana tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa faces the danger of dying with the present lineage holders. The Dharma needs to be translated into Western languages and cultures in a similar way to when Buddhism moved from India to Tibet, for preservation’s sake. It needs to find a medium that will carry it beyond this present generation and out into many generations in the future.
To actualize this, participation at all levels of the organization is vital, each link working in conjunction with the next, sharing the bond of a common vision.
As times become darker and degeneration more apparent, the mind will find it increasingly difficult to turn toward virtue. A self-sufficient community on the scale of a town or village would provide the environment and cultural protection necessary for the propagation of the Mahayana tradition.
The basis of the community would be families. The focus of Dharma activity would be the monastery or college of Buddhist studies, open to all.”
On 4 January 1980 Lama Yeshe gave a four-hour address to the CPMT. He began by talking about the purpose of these meetings of center directors and by describing some of the more important aspects of center directors’ responsibilities.
It is a good idea for us to meet together because we are all working and putting energy toward the same goal. So it is important that there is harmony and good mutual understanding between us and that we respect each other. Then we can have one mandala, one harmonious whole.
Our aim is to spread good vibrations through giving our body, speech and mind to others. This is our only reason for establishing centers. It is really important that center directors see each other as brothers and sisters and help each other. If one center becomes a disaster, then the other centers help. We share and we learn from each other. Until we open our hearts to each other we are not learning anything. The center director has such a huge responsibility. It is not easy, not a part-time job directing and fulfilling people’s needs. It is not enough just to have a good heart.
It is good if each director communicates with all the other centers, making sure they are happy. Why? Because we are all one mandala. You shouldn’t just make sure that your cup has tea and not care about anyone else’s. You should be open to each other and say, “Okay, if you make a mistake then you tell me.” That is the purpose of meeting—to see others’ perspectives rather than only your own view. We all have different notions but in the Dharma we are completely unified. We don’t need to think we are special or beautiful—we show what we are by our actions.
The center director is responsible for harmony in the center. When trouble comes, you should point it out—it doesn’t matter where or what it is. Wherever there is disunity it is as if all the potential of a place has been burned so that it cannot progress. It is possible that people may come to your center just to take advantage. Harmony is number one—only then can we build up our centers. You should nurture the attitudes that give the center energy, not those that take from it. If you’re working just to have possessions, that’s garbage. You center directors should have the attitude that you’re getting nothing for this lifetime except energy for your enlightenment. I feel grateful for your incredible dedication. Anyone who is not happy should dedicate this way: ‘This time I cannot do but I hope to be able to do in the future,’ and dedicate. Don’t worry about whether Lama Yeshe will be disappointed. My concern is that everybody should be happy and make their own dedication. I don’t like other people telling me what to do either—I have my own way of dedicating.
Eventually, we want to place two geshes in each center: one as the program director who keeps our family in the center happy and looks after visitors, and the other who more strictly gives teachings, such as geshe training. But many of my centers are not yet professional, not yet stable. Gypsy centers are not responsible enough to take on having a geshe. First the foundation needs to be stable.
Center directors should be like the sun and moon—without discrimination or favorites, embracing all people. No matter who is at the center, you should pay equal attention to them. Whether person is ugly or beautiful, you should think, ‘This is my child, my mother sentient being.’ If you think like that, then it is very good. This doesn’t mean you cannot have your friends. That is a personal thing. When you are unhappy, your friend gives you cheesecake.
Also the center director should not be hippie looking, childish looking. But this does not mean that when childish people come you do not give them time. We should be sympathetic to young people who are difficult or mentally disturbed. These people are human beings, with power like Buddha. You give these people time, love them, give them a house and a job. They understand what you are doing; they know you are making special consideration for them. From being broken-hearted they transform; then they are successful. Centers should include hippies, professional people, unprofessional people, married people, unmarried people, everybody. So the center director’s attitude should be to expect anything.
I always say that centers should have job creation. I think we should be creative. Our twentieth-century people are so creative, but they are also dangerous with aggression and frustration. My opinion is that this is a difficult time. It would be very good if at each of our centers we can do something for those young people who are lost on drug trips or angry at society and so on, providing them with activities and tasks that they can enjoy. Our program for them can also include counseling by a psychologist, short meditations and other appropriate things that can slowly, slowly lead them to a healthy mind.
When we can afford it we should have places for families, for single people, as well as for monks and nuns. You can say, ‘We put you here; this is your place. You stay here; you do your business and lay people do their business. You do not come down this other place.’ Whether lay or ordained, each person can choose a different lifestyle to live.