Great Thanks to So Many

For the very first time, I became genuinely apprehensive of a Dharma class being oversized due to space constraints and shortage of chairs. This is called a ‘good problem’ and I have to agree. When I first started publicising the fifth run of the ‘Introduction to Pure Land Buddhism: Understanding Amituofo Via the Amitabha Sutra’ course (http://moonpointer.com/new/2010/05/introduction-to-pure-land-buddhism), the applications trickled in quite slowly. It made me wonder why this was so. Was Amituofo losing popularity? How can this be? But the worries were unfounded, as the class is now one of the biggest in the monastery, with around 166 participants when they all come, not counting occasional sit-in guests. (The previous run saw some 60 participants.) We even had to encourage latecomers to sign up for the next run. With a lot of administration work, we even had to hold meetings to devise the most efficient way to process registration matters.

The turnout wasn’t the only pleasant surprise, as so many other supportive conditions fell into place, seemingly naturally. More than expected number of the regular participants (Bro. Hwa Guan, Derek, Chow Min, Choon Siong, Chang, Yong Hai, Seng Leng, Wai Chong & Sis. Faith, Weiya, Lynda, Sharon, Lucy, Geraldine, Bee Guan, Theresa, Cathy, Choi Pheng) of Pureland Practice Fellowship (PPF) took the initiative to offer to help with the administration and logistic efforts before and after the class (as we have to move and arrange many chairs and other stuff before ad after each lesson). This is really very touching to me and words can’t express enough of my gratitude. Thank you very much! (My sincere apologies if I left anyone out.) Nothing is more gratifying than seeing many come together to facilitate more to learn about the Pure Land teachings. Amituofo!

A PPF regular (Bro. Derek) generously offered to sponsor two 45-seater buses to ferry participants back to Bishan MRT station after class. We had assumed only one bus was needed at first. I think it is very meritorious to offer transport for Dharma classes. It is likened to offering convenience to sentient beings to learn how to get to Pure Land in this case! (I had sent this message to Derek to thank him – 善哉!施主给众生方便学净土必自得方便往生净土也!阿弥陀佛! Excellent! The giver of convenience to others to learn the Pure Land teachings surely gains greater convenience in reaching Pure Land oneself.) This addition of convenience is important for attracting more to sign up too. Another PPF regular (Bro. Choon Siong) readily helped to sponsor and gather many copies of the Amitabha Sutra and Amituofo CDs, even giving a trolley for helping with logistics. There were offers of any other necessary funding by PPF members too.

Administration volunteers from PPF were professional with their help too, and there were no hiccups with the first lesson, which we expected to be chaotic. From the ready laughter of the class and their many emails, the response for the three sessions (out of eight) so far is very positive. In fact, it has never been so positive before, for the lessons I had taught. Some participants even asked if they can invite their friends to join in though the class had already started. The more I thought about the above, about how so many factors fell into place, the more I realise it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of time in the past for the collective conditions of much efforts and karmic affinity of all involved to build up, to make the present possible. This includes the monastery’s endorsement of the class and the support of colleagues (from the youth, events, web and public affairs department) for logistics and publicity. My profuse gratitude too, to friends and readers who help to spread news of the course via word of mouth, Facebook and such.

The many overtime hours spent in office and at home to research and create fresh materials for the lessons became not so important – because it was much more important to prepare well, to share the Dharma well. It is as if the feeling of working dissipated. Sharing the Dharma is simply truly something that has to be done – whether it takes a lot of time and energy or not, whether it is part of a paid vocation or not. This sentiment used to come and go in the past, since 1997, when I began full-time Dharma work – due to occasional burnout. But now, it is more deeply a part of me. It is as if my real Dharma work only truly begins now. The teaching process became more spontaneous too, which is hopefully a sign that the Dharma has been further internalised.

I pray to Amituofo before class too, to give me timely flashes of inspiration, should I forget to share any crucial relevant aspect of the Dharma. With his blessings, may I always be a good conduit, a messenger of the Dharma best I can. It is heartening to see quite a few familiar faces too, who had attended the previous run, who are here again to refresh their learning. In this run, I’m utilising more attention-grabbing graphics, animations, videos and sounds for livelier presentations. Live testimonials of Pure Land practitioners are included too. It is almost like running an entire fresh course altogether, where I put creative thinking and teaching to the test.

I have never been so busy teaching so intensively – leading PPF practice and Dharma discussion sessions (http://tinyurl.com/namoamituofo) on Friday, teaching the above class on Saturdays and Project Rebirth (http://moonpointer.com/new/2010/05/project-rebirth-rediscover-reflect-recharge) on Sundays. On top of my usual work routine (and writing at least 16 articles every week for http://TheDailyEnlightenment.com and http://moonpointer.com after work), this is three days of teaching in a row every week for two months – yet it has never been more satisfying. (The timing for Project Rebirth is awkward, yet the turnout of about 48 is better than expected.)

The process of running the class is very humbling too, because it made me realise how much more can be done with dedicated and harmonious team efforts. I would like to express my great gratitude to all again, who have helped to make the class a success so far, in one way or another, including the enthusiastic participants who are willing to spend their Saturday evenings learning the Dharma. May we continue making the class a success. May we become good spiritual friends who inspire one another to reach Pure Land, before swiftly returning to better help all beings. Amituofo!

Related Article:
Thank You for Reading… and Coming!
http://moonpointer.com/new/2010/07/thank-you-for-reading-and-coming