by S. N. Goenka
The following is the opening address by S. N. Goenka at the Annual Conference at Dhamma Giri on 9 January 1997.
Reverend Bhikkhu Saṅgha and my Dhamma children:
In the work you are going to accomplish here sweetness is important. If there is Dhamma, there is bound to be sweetness. This is the yardstick: sweetness must come in life. You have come here to exchange your views and experiences, but if you are attached to your views and argue that whatever you say is correct, you will lose all the sweetness.
The Enlightened One’s words should keep ringing in your ears: be like milk and water mixed together, inseparable, full of sweetness. The whole Dhamma field must always be full of sweetness.
By mistake you might use certain harsh words to justify your view. If you know that you have hurt somebody but think, "What else could I do? I was correct and that fellow couldn’t understand it," then your thoughts are still full of aversion. Don’t try to justify your mistakes, accept them: "I made a mistake, either from ignorance or my weakness which allowed anti-Dhamma forces to overpower me. I will be careful not to do this in future." Give the balm of mettā now.
How quickly do you realize your mistake and start generating mettā? How long do you work on mettā, and how deeply? That is the yardstick of your progress. Understand this and see that the atmosphere always remains full of Dhamma, full of sweetness.
You are all gathering here now because you want Dhamma to spread. Why do you want Dhamma to spread? Not to establish a sect. If a sect is established and more people start calling themselves Buddhists what would anyone gain by that? Let people keep calling themselves Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Jewish, what difference will it make? The human mind keeps on generating impurity, negativity and misery. If one calls oneself by this name or that, does the mind change? No, the mind remains the same with the same habit pattern. Names won’t help. Change the habit pattern of the mind, and here is a wonderful technique which will do this. By practising Vipassana one realizes: "Yes, it works! It has purified my mind, if only a little, and whatever impurities have gone, that much misery has gone. Oh, this is such a wonderful technique! Everyone, all around the world is miserable. May more and more people get this wonderful technique and come out of their misery!"
When you see others really enjoying happiness, peace and harmony, then sympathetic joy arises. Seeing others joyful makes you feel joyful, and this joy multiplies. You smile seeing so many people smiling. You are serving others for this purpose, not to develop ego. There should be no status, no power, no position. You serve whether you have this or that responsibility. You are serving to make yourself happier and to make others happier. This is Dhamma.
Keep this in mind and work. Distribute this wonderful Dhamma for your good and for the good of so many suffering people around the world. May pure Dhamma spread. May more and more people start practising Dhamma to enjoy real peace, harmony, happiness.
Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ!
May all beings be happy!