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Fifteen Points for New and Old Order Members - Guhyaloka 1988

by Sangharakshita

... the evening before but just in time for lunch, and going
away the next day, perhaps straight after lunch, having a very, very short national Order
weekend. Occasionally, of course, it really does ..., but don't make a habit of this. Try your
utmost to be present for the whole of that weekend or three days, as the case may be.
[4]
Then, again, a very similar point, and that is with regard to reporting-in to Shabda. You have
all heard about Shabda, or I think you have even read an issue of it by this time, and you will
know that there are reports from Order Members. Sometimes these reports are writings-up of
[oral] reportings-in on the occasion of the national Order weekend, but sometimes they are
what we call letter reports: that is, someone, whether or not he attended the National Order
weekend, sits down and writes an account of what he or she has been doing the previous
month - anything of general interest, anything positive that that person has to contribute to the
Movement as a whole. But, when you have read that last Shabda - I don't know whether you
have actually experienced this - you may have been a bit disappointed to find that there was
no report from your own particular favourite Order Member back home in your own setting.
You may wonder: Where are they? What have they been doing? Are they all asleep? Are they
all away on solitary retreat? There is no reporting-in from Dharmachari So-and-so or
Dharmacharini So-and-so. What has happened?
So, yes, it can be a great disappointment, sometimes, and I myself have often felt
disappointed in that way, to open your Shabda, wanting perhaps to know what somebody is
doing, maybe in some distant part of the globe: not a word. Occasionally one finds a whole
Chapter, even, not reporting in. It is as though they had sort of dropped out of the Movement
for a while. So, in your case, please don't do that, if you possibly can, and you should ... every
month, or very nearly every month, report in to Shabda, let other Members of the Order know
where you are and what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you are feeling, how your
meditation has been going, what you have been reading, whether you have been travelling,
whether you have had any interesting experiences, whether any Insight has come to you
which may be of use, of value, to the Movement as a whole, whether you have read a book
that you would like to draw to the attention of other Order Members and would like them to
read too, whether you have discovered a new technique in connection with your meditation
that you would like other Order Members to try out. All these sort of things can be reported in
to Shabda, and to contribute to Shabda is a means of communication within the whole Order.
Sometimes you may like to contribute an essay on some topic, or occasionally, subject to
great self-criticism, you might like even to contribute a poem! But, even if you are a very
good poet, not too often. If you are as good as all that, you should be collecting your poems
together and publishing them in booklet form at your own expense! So please do report in to
Shabda. When someone doesn't report in to Shabda, as I have said, it can be very
disappointing. It is rather like phoning up somebody and you can hear the phone ringing but
nobody answers; or, worse still, you hear a voice saying: This - is - an - answering - machine;
in other words, there is no communication. So please do communicate through Shabda as
much as you possibly can.
Again, a closely related topic: that one should try, as much as one can, to realize the unity of
the Order. You all know, I think, that the Order, and especially the unity of the Order, is
symbolized by the figure of the Eleven-Headed and Thousand-Armed Avalokitesvara. One
could say that each of those eleven heads symbolizes a Chapter. Of course, I know we've got
more than eleven Chapters, but leaving that [5] aside, maybe we've got eleven regions
throughout the world. But, yes, the heads represent a degree of unity, as it were. And then
there are the thousand arms, the thousand hands. Each Order Member represents one of those
arms, or one of those hands; one of those arms joined on to the body of Avalokitesvara. And,
of course, as I think we have all been told, each hand holds a single implement, a flower,
wheel, vase, bow and arrow, and so on, and those particular instruments, those symbols,
represent the particular activity of each individual Order Member, the particular talent, one
might say, the particular gift, that each individual Order Member makes to the Order, to the
Movement, to the world, as a whole. But they are all integrated, all those symbols, all those
implements, all those hands, all those arms, all those heads, they are all integrated into this
one figure, the body of Avalokitesvara, which is the Order, or even, in the widest possible
sense, the Movement. So it is very important that, as an Order Member, one feels oneself to
be one of these arms, one of these hands, of Avalokitesvara, a Member, so to speak, of the
Order.
And, in this connection, another point which I would like to make is that ones identification
with the Order as a whole - ones feeling that one is an arm or a hand of Avalokitesvara -
should be very strong indeed. It should be sufficiently strong, at least, to enable one not to
over-identify with ones own particular Chapter or ones own particular Centre. When you are
spending your whole time, almost your whole life, within a particular Chapter, working
around a particular Centre, just meeting other Order Members connected with that Centre,
thinking about that Centre, working for that Centre, perhaps very efficiently, very loyally, it is
very easy to lose sight as it were of the Movement as a whole. It is very easy just to lose sight
of the whole figure of Avalokitesvara and focus, as it were, on one particular head, or even
just on two or three particular arms, two or three particular hands. So one must try not to do
that. One must, yes, be loyal to ones own Centre, ones own Chapter, work for that
wholeheartedly, but see that ones own Centre, ones own Chapter, is only part of something
which is very much bigger, very much greater, very much more important than any particular
Centre, any particular Chapter, however big and however good. And this, as I have suggested,
should be a real feeling; one should feel this very strongly.
And then a similar point. Avalokitesvara, as we know, is the embodiment in particular of
Compassion, just as Manjughosa is the embodiment of Wisdom and Vajrapani is the
embodiment of Energy or Strength. So if Avalokitesvara is the embodiment of Compassion,
and if one is oneself a limb, an arm, a hand of Avalokitesvara, what does that mean? It means
that one should be operating in accordance with Compassion. One should be operating in
accordance with the [6] love mode, as we say - or metta mode, as we sometimes say - and not
with the power mode. And this should especially be the case when one operates with, relates
to, communicates with, fellow Order Members. Unfortunately, when one operates in relation
to the world and people outside in the world, organizations and institutions outside in the
world, it may not always be possible to operate purely in accordance with the love mode, but
certainly, when it comes to relating to or communicating with fellow members of the Order,
one should be very careful that one is operating, in their case, purely in accordance with the
love mode, which is a very difficult thing actually to do. Usually, as I think everybody
realizes, our tendency is to act in accordance with the power mode, to try to coerce other
people, however subtly; to try to give them a nudge, even a push, in the particular direction in
which we want them to go or think they should go. But, in the case of fellow Order Members
especially, we should simply not do this. We should act entirely and exclusively in
accordance with the love mode. If we are not doing this, we are not really relating to other
Order Members as Order Members - as individuals.
Speaking of operating in accordance with the love mode, I would like to draw special
attention to one particular expression of this that I have somewhat concerned with in recent
months, if not for the last year or so: and that is one of the Speech Precepts. We have to
practise kindly speech. I have been struck from time to time by the amount of rough speech or
harsh speech that goes on within the Movement and within the Order, and even, perhaps, as
between Order Members and Mitras - I mean, on the part of the Order Members. So it is very
important that we should make a special effort to practise kindly speech, or even, one might
say, affectionate speech. Be very careful not to speak in a rough, harsh or abrupt way, or
simply in a way which is devoid of affection, which is not an expression of affection. It is
very easy to do this, especially if you do spend part of your time in, say, a masculine world
outside the FWBO for any reason - usually, of course, this is when we are working in it. It is
very easy to forget, when one comes back into the Movement, into the Order, that the type of
relating that may be appropriate, the sort of speech that may be appropriate in the outside
world, is certainly not appropriate within the Movement and within the Order in particular. So
make a point of practising kindly and affectionate speech. You probably have been doing it
here, ...

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