18 Apr

Crossroads, Junctions and Roundabouts

When we were younger, we had more guts to take chances. Crossroads, junctions and roundabouts didn’t matter much, because we somehow had the confidence that in case we made a mistake, we could always take a u-turn or find another way. As we get older, we tend to be more cautious, more calculative and more easily frustrated when the results do not go according to our expectation. Some people, irregardless of their age, are more gutsy and some are naturally more careful. Some cannot tolerate even a small detour, everything must go according to their plans. So 90% of the time is spent on planning and worrying that things do not go according to plans, and 10% is spent on action. Nothing wrong with this. It is just a person’s choice of living his or her own life.

I believe I am the opposite type. If I am allowed to complain about myself, then I guess I don’t plan much, I just do the activities according to the natural flow. Of course sometimes, a bit of mess here and there needs to be cleaned up and most of the time, I am proud to have some creative results, that I myself never anticipated. As I always say, “Life is full of possibilities, if we know how to catch them.” At the same time, I admire those of my colleagues and dear friends who are able to plan so well. I wish I had some of those skills and some training when I was young.

In actual fact, if we look at each situation and each one of us very precisely, we would notice that each of us actually travels very much alone. Almost everyday, we are at a crossroad, a junction or a roundabout. Every decision we make, based on our past experiences, our expectations and our confidence level, leads us to a separate journey. Sometimes our paths cross, sometimes, we go separately. At some crossroads, junctions and roundabouts, we may meet, say hello to each other, move on together or move in separate directions. We call this karma and conditions.

We have accidents along the way, we make our decisions based on our own intuition or others’ advice. In any case, we decide for ourselves our very own destinations. It really does not matter where we are going, I always say that we have to check our motivation, that’s all. Is our motivation harmful or harmless? Deeds done with harmful motivation will harm ourselves at the end. It’s a boomerang. Even if we do not have the great Bodhisattva motivation to benefit others, at least try not to have motivation to harm others. Keeping mindful of our motivation is a 24/7 job. This motivation will be like an auto-navigator that keeps us always on track.

Whatever the consequences of our decisions, let’s treat them as learning experiences. We have to keep remodifying and correcting our motivations and our actions. If you want to say it in the Dharma term, life itself is a Dharma practice. Our entire life is just about that.

I have been in Vietnam for more than one week now. The journey from Hanoi, the capital, to here, Ho Chi Minh, has been the most pleasant. I see great hope and future in the Dharma in this country, not just because of the impeccable organisation, but also because of the selfless motivation of all the organisers, volunteers and sponsors involved in the planning and execution. The result is very clear. My presence here is only for the sake of supporting the local Dharma activities and for the benefit of Vietnamese people. If these two purposes are achieved, my wishes are fulfilled. I want to congratulate all the Dharma teachers and practitioners in Vietnam for upholding the traditions passed down from Lord Buddha to many generations of spiritual teachers. It is when Dharma is practised that spirituality can remain alive. From the depth of my heart, I pray that whatever spiritual path that each of us chooses, this has to be walked with the interest of all beings firmly held to our hearts.