What I have Learned from Volunteering at Dharma Drum Vancouver Center

Hello, my name is Tim Dai. I joined Dharma Drum Vancouver Center about two years ago, and I have recently taken refuge in the Three Jewels at this Center. Also, I have started volunteering at the Center which teaches me lessons that have benefitted me enormously. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from the experience.

The biggest event I have helped with was the celebration of Buddha’s birthday this year. I was given two main tasks: to design and decorate a small section for children to bathe the Buddha, and to help out with other volunteers during the event. I learned two main lessons from these volunteering experiences. The first is to experience and realize how our ego distorts our view of truth and blocks us from reaching our higher potential. The second is to not only conceptually understand Karma, but to experience it at first hand and realize how real it is.

What did I learn about the ego or self-centered view of this world? First, a little bit more about myself. I’m currently a website designer who’s really passionate about this field. As a result, I’m deeply attached to this title – as a designer I feel responsible for always coming up with something amazing. When I was told to “design” something for this event, I really took this task seriously and felt it was a huge responsibility.

During the days I was designing and coming up with ideas for the design, I felt like it was such a BIG task for me, and my mind was worrying a lot. Thoughts like “Buddha is so important in my life, and this event is so important for Buddha, and if I mess up the design, it would be so terrible...” overwhelmed me. So how did it all work out? I spent a lot of time on it and put so much effort into the details. It all worked out fine, and I will talk about it in detail in a moment. For now, let’s jump right into the day of that event. That day, many people told me they enjoyed the design. It was a good part of the whole event. However, as I was walking around the event and starting to focus on how other parts of the events were going and how other volunteers were working, I started to realize how small my part was compared to the whole event. I wondered how I could have been so nervous, worried and anxious about it. To conclude, what I learned is that many times the things scare or worry us may not be scary at all. It is our limited view of the truth plus our bad mental habits that really causes suffering. The concept isn’t hard to understand but to actually apply it to your life is challenging. I really appreciate this lesson and hopefully next time when I encounter something similar I will stop worrying and start enjoying the experience.

The second lesson is about Karma: cause, condition and fruition. Remember, I said I would talk about what I experienced when I was working on the design? I’m going to share it here. It was about one week before the actual event; my teammates and I still couldn’t come up with anything good. We showed some ideas to the event planners but none really resonated with them or ourselves. We’d spent quite a lot of time, and were still far from completing the task, and we had no idea how the end product was going to look. Out of the blue, while we were talking to the Dharma teacher, she suggested us ask around to see if any volunteers had Lego we could use. Very fortunately, it turned out that some of the volunteers had good Lego collections. So the next day, they all brought their Lego and it only took us about 30 minutes to put them together. It felt effortless and the result was amazing. It was nothing like our previous plan but it was so much better.

This is my personal experience of the Karma: cause, condition and fruition. The “causes” were our desire to perform the task well. The “conditions” was the suggestion to use Lego for the project, and the donation of Lego by the other volunteers. And the “fruition” was the result we achieved. I was amazed by how magically one can achieve fruition when the causes and conditions met.

In closing, I’d like to really thank the other volunteers (Jolin pusa [bodhisattva pronounced in Mandarin], her sons and daughters, and Lillian pusa for lending Lego, and Wilson who invited me for volunteering). Also, of course, I want to thank the Buddha, Sangha and Dharma for teaching me these wonderful lessons about life.

(by Tim Dai*)

*Note: Tim Dai is also a member of Dharma Drum for Young People.

| More
Back to news list

Tim is the left handsome pusa in glasses.
Your are here : News > What I have Learned from Volunteering at Dharma Drum Vancouver Center