Sometimes You Never Know How You Helped Someone
~ Until They Tell You ~
When I was old enough to get on a bus and go downtown by myself, a young girl of about 12 years old, I would go to the library and look for books about different religions and philosophies. I was fascinated by their differences and I suppose I was looking for something that fit me. I grew up in a certain religion, which I won’t discuss here but there was something missing.
I eventually settled upon Buddhism and realized that I had been living Buddhist ideals and principles my whole life. It fit. There are different schools of thought even in Buddhism and I looked at them all, primarily Zen and then Tibetan Buddhism. In the end, I settled on Tibetan Buddhism, which my beloved brother, Michael, was already studying. He invited me to go to a Kadampa Buddhist Festival in England back in 2002, and my life took on a life of its on from there. While there, I began to look for a teacher that would be willing to come to my area and bring the teaching to us.
This led me to meet what were to become some of the best friends I have ever known that were from a Temple in Chicago, which was be the closest to where I live in Michigan. The teacher there, a monk named Gen Kelsang Khedrub, agreed to drive to my area once a month, (for free!), and teach. He would stay at my house and cook me breakfast. How about that? Of course, I asked him endless questions too, which he kindly answered, about the teachings.
Eventually it came to be that our class was growing, and once a month wasn’t satisfying the hunger of those that wanted to learn more and more. By this time, I had begun a formal correspondence course aimed at becoming a teacher myself. So … I became that teacher in between Gen Khedrub’s visits. Here, I was a teacher of Buddhist Meditation. (Incidentally, I studied Buddhist Philosophy for 7 years. But If you really want to learn something well … start teaching it.)
We had a beautiful group of people in the class with quite a few regulars. We became very close friends and together we would do many, many “road trips” to Chicago and other venues for Buddhist events within our tradition, which included various States, Canada, England, even Germany. These road trips were so meaningful, and continued to be learning experiences because we would consistently talk about the teachings, which are essentially all about love and compassion for all living beings. It’s quite simple, really.
There was something different in this group. We actually lived what we were being taught. We didn’t go to ‘church’, listen to lectures, then go home and go back to what we were doing. We practiced what we were taught, in the literal sense.
In the end, as things always do, things changed. We were assigned a ‘permanent’ teacher, but, to make a long story short, that was a disaster. After having been together for 3 years, and with so any changes, our little group began to fizzle out. Here I would like to insert a great big “Thank You” to Kelsang Lektso, for doing her part in trying to keep the group together for a while longer. But by that time, there had been too many changes, too many issues. We gave it our best shot, I brought Buddhism to the area like I had set out to do, and so be it. End of story.
Or so I thought.
That was about 8 years ago. Then recently, in the past few weeks, I’ve started running into some of the old group, here and there. Lovely to hear from them again, of course. One in particular, “D”, called me on the telephone one day to tell me that two others from the group had contacted her and now they were meeting once a week at her house to talk Buddhism. Wonderful! Wow. It made my heart sing a little, knowing that the seed I had planted was still growing. And if it was still growing among these three people, then how many others were still being affected by the teachings.
So, I wrote to “D” and said, in essence “Maybe I did some good after all.”
Her response was this:
Your remark about maybe you did some good after all brought tears to my eyes. Your hard work to bring Buddhist teachings to the area changed my life. If you had not worked hard and pursued help wherever you could find it, I would never have found Buddhism. And it probably would have been in a more formal situation. I was all for being involved in a very formal group—it was where I was comfortable and could remain aloof.
Then I met this little person who was willing to share herself as well as the teachings. She had such a large giving heart and willingly shared it with complete strangers. Because you were sharing Buddhist teachings, I decided that that was where I needed to be. No large, beautiful edifice with everyone in suits and sitting in rows and filing out after services in those same rows. I met you at that Healing Center between Whitehall and Montague. That was the day my life changed. I did not realize it for a couple of months, but my path was changed forever. All of my life I was led to different religions. I became very involved in some of them but never felt full. Now I know why and that was because of your kind wish to benefit others.
My point with this post, is not to blow my own horn, or ask you to pat me on the back. The point is, never underestimate the influence you can have on other people’s lives, no matter how small. Sometimes you never know how you helped someone – until they tell you.
♥♥♥ Special thanks for coming into my life go to Geshe-la Kelsang Gyatso, Gen Khedrub, Michael, “D”, Kelsang Lamden, Kelsang Lektso, and Laura, all of whom were and still are, my most important spiritual friends. You all have influenced my life more than you will ever know, and you will always be in my heart. ♥♥♥
MY QUESTION FOR YOU TODAY: Is there someone in your life who has made an important impact on you? Have you told them? Maybe now is the time. Or maybe you have had the same experience as I have, and someone has told you. I’d love to hear your story! Leave a comment below. I’ll be watching for it.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, “Sometimes You Never Know How You Helped Someone – Until They Tell You”
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