The self that wishes only for its own happiness is mistaken...
The self that wishes only for its own happiness is mistaken
-His Holiness 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
I have a dream – actually a recurring, sweat-inducing nightmare. I’m about to take to the stage, before a packed house to play the lead role in Hamlet when I am suddenly struck by the realisation that I’ve forgotten to learn any of the words. Actually I used to have a Hamlet-related party piece, but please don’t ask. I don’t do it anymore.
Freud would have no trouble interpreting this dream thus; I lack confidence. I fear taking on a task that I’m not up to. I’m going to fall flat. I’m going to be seen to fail and it’s going to be humiliating.
I’ve been a volunteer at KSDL for a lot of years now. I was a young man when I started. Sangha aside, I think only one current resident volunteer boasts a longer heritage. I think I am reasonably placed therefore to know what makes a good volunteer. In essence, you need to do whatever is needed, without complaint. You’ve never done this before? Well, step up to the plate and learn, or maybe swallow your pride. If Lama asks me to clean toilets, I just have to dive in.
This is fantastic. Amongst other things, I’ve learned graphic design, video editing, a bit of accountancy and sound engineering. It’s that last one that can fill me with dread. There seems to be a general rule that the more important the event, the more likely the sound system is to fail at the crucial moment. All eyes in a packed shrine room turn towards me and I don’t know what to do to fix it. You see? It’s my nightmare scenario.
Before the 2017 visit of His Holiness 17th Karmapa I had sleepless nights, despite exhaustive testing with an assistant (or vice versa – thanks again Bernard.) In the event, it was fine and I did not, as anticipated, ruin that most joyous occasion.
When we decided, in the face of the impending lockdown, to live stream events from the shrine room I had not a clue how to make this happen. Hours of research and a few YouTube videos later I was ready to give it a go. To my amazement it worked. To my huge pleasure more and more people started tuning in every morning and on Sunday evenings. People are telling us how much they appreciate it and how important it is for them to feel connected. That makes me very happy.
What I am really saying with all this rambling is that I am deeply grateful for the gratitude expressed. It makes all the work and anxiety worthwhile. I am happy because you are happy. This simple concept is commonly overlooked, indeed seems almost counter-intuitive to many. Being kind, thoughtful, helpful, in small ways, in deeds or words brings at least as much happiness as it gives. It doesn’t get simpler than that. It’s win-win.