If we want to find our proper place in the grand scheme of things, we first have to get a sense of the grand scheme of things. In other words, if we wish our life to really fall into place, we need to go far beyond our usual conception of what this life is. Fortunately this is not difficult to do: we just need to find the time to sit still and look in. And then, if we have the courage to go beyond what we are familiar with, it turns out that this life is, in fact, the life of everyone and everything. From that vantage point, it is so much easier to discover what our function really is and how we might take responsibility for it. In my own experience, finding one’s true role in life is the most wonderful thing.

So it would be best if we were willing to regularly switch our focus from our individual life to our universal life and then back again. We can so easily get lost in either the smaller or the greater picture. This means that in our practice we are first responsible for the cultivation of our own life but, as we are also members of a community, we must also bear responsibility for the cultivation of that community. This pattern expands in ever-wider circles. How about “our” practice in The Netherlands, in Europe, and beyond? Next week, we will welcome a large group of Chinese monks and lay-people here and they may just see us as “Western” Buddhists. If so, we are suddenly responsible for Buddhist practice in the West.

Of course, each one of us can have his or her own highly individual Dharma function, yet simultaneously we all have something to offer towards the cultivation of the Dharma throughout space and time. As far as I can see, there is plenty of work for all of us.


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