Fulfilling Others’ Wishes
How does the Foundation Programme fulfil the wishes of others? If we increase our wisdom and Dharma experience we can give teachings and spiritual advice to others and set a good example for them to follow. In this way we can lead others into spiritual paths. Generally, everyone, whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, religious or non-religious, wants to help others.
For example, everyone naturally wants to help their parents, children, and friends, but the kind of help we can give is quite limited. Usually we give only material help, trying to improve the samsaric conditions and enjoyments of others. It is possible that this kind of help will produce some temporary benefit, but it does not produce any lasting benefit. Moreover, if we act without wisdom, Dharma experience, clairvoyance, skillful means, patience, and so forth, we cannot be certain that our actions are actually beneficial. Addressing ourselves to the short-term needs of others may be beneficial, but equally it may be harmful. We have no way of knowing.
Since beginningless time mother sentient beings have been preoccupied with improving their samsaric conditions and enjoyments. As human beings, again and again they have sought happiness through material acquisitions, striving after food, clothing, money, reputation and so forth, but despite all this activity their problems remain. No amount of wealth or resources can actually remove the problems of cyclic existence. Even if I were to give my mother millions of pounds it would not remove her problems or her suffering, in fact it would probably increase them. Rich people have far more to worry about than poor people: how to protect their wealth, how to increase it, how to spend it. Very rich people live in constant fear of being robbed or attacked because of their wealth. Rich people’s minds are filled with distractions, they are prone to pride and misconduct, and because of their life of indulgence their attachments, and consequently their dissatisfaction, are forever increasing. For such people it is very difficult to find the time or motivation to practice Dharma. Poor people by contrast tend to be much more contented. They have fewer worries and distractions, and they tend to be humble rather than proud. As a result, it is easier for them to quiet their minds, develop spiritual aspirations, and observe pure conduct. From this we can see that giving material help without wisdom and skill can be detrimental. Rather than helping others it may even increase their problems.
In Training the Mind in Seven Points Geshe Chekawa warns against practicing wrong benefit. Sometimes we have the intention to benefit others but because we lack wisdom and Dharma experience we inadvertently cause them harm. So how can we help others and actually fulfill their wish to overcome suffering and find happiness? Principally by setting a good example for them to follow, giving teachings and spiritual advice, and gradually leading them into spiritual paths. We need to help others to overcome their ignorance and develop a good heart. By constantly maintaining a good heart, anyone can overcome their daily problems and, by gradually improving themselves, eventually they can attain a permanent inner peace and complete freedom from all suffering and danger. Therefore the best way to help others is to practice giving Dharma rather than giving material help. Even if a living Buddha were to appear in our lives and give us money and other material things it would bring us little benefit, but by giving us Dharma, leading us into correct spiritual paths through the power of his example and his advice, he will give us immeasurable help. He will eradicate all our daily problems and eventually lead us to complete liberation from suffering.
The main purpose of the Foundation Programme is to help us to help others in this way. From this we can see that to fulfill our own and others wishes we need to rely on the Foundation Programme. At present our wisdom is like a young child, or a new moon. We may have developed some wisdom from listening to teachings and reading and studying books, but this wisdom needs to be developed much further. By relying on the Foundation Programme we can gradually increase our wisdom until it is completely mature, like a full moon. With this kind of wisdom we will have a firm, stable confidence when teaching Dharma to others.