You are always with your practice
by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
I would like to say is that people definitely have to work and support themselves. When you have the enlightened attitude you have a responsibility to the people around you, to your country. You care about them. You are always with your practice. You are inseparable from it. You seize opportunities to benefit others and you will benefit others in whatever way you can.
You have been in this country. You were born in this country. Many people who will read this, are from families that have been here for generations. This country has been an important place for you. You have to offer respect for your grandparents and you must live a decent life, a dignified life that upholds the traditions of your ancestors, that meets the approval of society, your parents and yourself. If you are really going to serve this country and help its people, this seems like a reasonable way, rather than belonging to this party and that party, and getting involved in this competition and that competition, and all kinds of politics. As practitioners of the Dharma we don’t have to deny politics and reject politics, but we don’t have to play those games, either. It is not necessary. It is not important. It is not needed.
If you are working, may be in a hospital, you can see how you might have the opportunity and responsibility to help people. In the same way, what ever work you have taken, there are definitely people that you can benefit. So you should serve your people, serve your country, not expecting your country to serve you. And that’s the part of the practice of the Dharma. Not working is not taking responsibility.
If you are practitioner of the Mahayana teachings, that means you have something to be proud of, something to be worthy of, something to be descent for. But many people go around like some kind of outcast, in rags, with long hair, unwashed, as if you are a drug addict or something. This is not the proper way to present yourself. You are not maintaining your respect, you are not respecting Dharma that you are practicing, and you are not creating the proper outlook that the excellent Dharma is worthy of.
This is the message to the practitioners of Dharma that they must be dignified internally as well as externally, and their internal dignity must reflect outwardly also. We are not some drug addicts. Wearing the descent clothes, and being a descent human being, and serving your country, your people, serving the Dharma, and also yourself, being a self-respectful person is the Dharma path. How are you to benefit beings by looking as if you are completely discarded from the society?
By exposing that appearance, you are not taking the responsibility or you are not reflecting the enlightened attitude. If you are practicing the enlightened attitude, you should naturally be able to attract people so that when people see you, they might think, “Yes, these people definitely seem to be descent people, I think I could relate to them, and could ask something of these people. They might even be able to help me.” So in this way, you appear capable of giving help, or, at least capable of giving some directions to them for the help.
We are proud of ourselves as examples of the Dharma. If you are going around in rags, not taking care of your body, and going in the world like a misfit, it makes a very bad impression of that Dharma Center that you are involved with, and also as a person of this country, which means that you bring disrespect and a bad impression to this country and it’s people.
These are certain points that before I leave, I would like to offer to people so that they can use it. I hope that whoever hears these words, whether you are a Dharma practitioner or not, or whether you have entered into Buddhism or not, I hope that it will make some sense to you. It comes sincerely and truly, not with any put-on, or masquerade or diplomacy, but truly-straight and clean.
With integrity and sincerity you can serve beings, and as you work in the Dharma, you will serve many beings. And that is the greatness of the Mahayana teachings and practice. You don’t have to be a drop out from the country, the society or family. You are not. Cause, you have dignity.