Ocean Sky Chan Monastery was introduced to me by my mother. At the beginning, my mother would literally force me to go. Despite this, I was still able to finish beginners’ and intermediate meditation classes without understanding what was being taught. Everything changed after I graduated from college. There were questions lingering in my mind. I told myself, “Okay, I’ll give it a shot. I’ll go with my Mom to Ocean Sky with an open mind and I will not have any thought or judgment.” And I did go. I remember I came during the last day of summer camp. At first, it still felt weird because it was all new to me. Surprisingly, when some volunteers and my sister’s co-volunteers talked to me, it felt different. They talked to me as if I’d been coming to the monastery for as long as my Mom, sister, and brother did. The experience changed my perception of Ocean Sky. From that day onwards, many wonderful things have changed in me.
With that simple gesture of making others feel welcomed, it definitely had a big effect on newcomers like me and our perception of Ocean Sky. A lamp was lighted through that act of kindness and warmth that I received from the people.
Volunteering for me is a way of giving back, to say “thank you,” and to share and spread the teachings that I learned in the monastery. I encountered different tasks and different people every time I do volunteer work. It challenges me as a person and in my practice. But it doesn’t bother me. In everything that I do, I definitely learn something new. The teachings don’t end after listening to the Dharma talks, the lessons also need to be applied.
“To love all that you do and consider it as part of your life can make work easier and happier for you.” This was one of the many teachings that struck me the most. It changed how I feel towards my work. There is no easy job if you are just there for the wrong reasons and it will not help you in any way. Every day you wake up just to wait for the day to end because for some reason, you did not find complete happiness in your work, from the people around you, and even in your life. But when you do things because it is your life and you enjoy every bit of it, no matter how tired you are, whether physically or emotionally, you will always find joy and fulfillment in it. There is this feeling of great joy in me whenever I see other people happy because I am able to help them.
However, sometimes it is not only happiness we bring to other people. I know I am not perfect nor can I please all the people; but it does not stop me from helping other people as much as I’ve also benefited from them. These people may not know how they’ve affected my life whether negative or positive. I still would like to thank and say sorry to them in as many ways that I possibly can. As a cultivator, there are still many things that I need to learn and for sure, my learning never ends.
Right now, a single thought is in my mind, “Pay it forward.” The single light that I am holding is not enough to dispel the darkness we are encountering. But if I share that light, the brightness around me would keep expanding and become even brighter. This will not only help myself, it will also benefit others.