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Misfortune : Dharma Business Problems

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated Sep 3, 2008)
Losing Money in Business for Dharma
A student started a business expressly to raise funds for a large spiritual project, but the business was doing poorly, and had begun to lose large sums of money.

My very dear Lucy,
From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the FPMT, in one voice we thank you for what you are trying to do for the Maitreya project. You should know that the money actually went to Maitreya. The money wasn’t lost in a void. It was lost for Maitreya. Actually, as long as the motivation was positive, you receive great benefit.

Of course, the idea was to make a lot of money. That didn’t happen, but you created so much merit with your positive mind. From a material point of view there is a loss, but from a spiritual point of view and from the point of view of karma, there is great gain. A normal businessperson would do business just thinking of this life, so they would create negative karma, and would not create a single merit, and on top of that live a completely empty, meaningless life. Even if the businessperson were materially very successful, it means nothing. It is an empty life, and on top of that they create non-virtue. Comparing this with what you have done, you are extremely lucky. You have created so many merits, so you should rejoice, especially as this opportunity has allowed you to collect in the future all the qualities to achieve the path to enlightenment, and then be able to benefit all other living beings.
With much love and prayers...

Dealing With Loss in Business for Charity
A couple started a business to help Rinpoche build a 500-foot Maitreya statue. They lost a large amount of money trying to get the business going. They were not particularly wealthy people, and may have been cheated out of some of the money. Rinpoche wrote to them as follows.

Actually, you haven’t lost anything. In fact, you have gained everything. Even though you didn’t physically get the money, you gained all the merit, because from your heart you wanted to give the money from the business to the Maitreya Project. Since every single dollar that you put into the business was actually dedicated to this holy object, every single dollar you spent created the cause for enlightenment. That means you created thousands of causes for enlightenment, thousands of causes for liberation from samsara, and thousands of causes for happiness in future lives.

Also, if you spent the money with the recognition that I am your guru, then that money was spent to fulfill my wishes, so that means that each dollar you spent collects much more merit than having made offerings to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and all the statues, stupas, scriptures, thangkas, and holy objects in every direction. Just one dollar spent that was dedicated to your guru collects a vast amount of merit, and you have collected thousands of times this amount of merit. This is wonderful. You can rejoice at your own merits, which you have collected through this. By rejoicing again and again in all these merits that have been collected and dedicated to me, the merit is doubled, then tripled and so forth, each time you rejoice.

Even though it may seem that you lost out in this business, you didn’t. What you actually gained is like a vast sky of merit and good karma. From this, you receive zillions and zillions in future lives, which you will be able to enjoy for thousands and thousands of lifetimes. Then, of course, you will also achieve enlightenment, have the infinite qualities of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech, and holy mind, and then enlighten so many suffering beings.

Losing this money also means that you are paying your karmic debts to those people involved, so the karma gets finished. You should make charity of all the money that was lost. Even though you believe and label the money as lost, actually you did an excellent business deal, and collected so much merit, especially if the business was performed with bodhicitta, with the thought to bring sentient beings to enlightenment. For that purpose, you need to achieve enlightenment, so you should think, “Now I will offer all this money to them as charity.” Then with each penny, however many pennies you offer as charity to them, you create so much merit. So, you can see how the money is not lost at all, and in fact you have only gained incredible benefits.

Loan to a Dharma Project
Rinpoche gave the following advice to a business that had loaned a lot of money to a Dharma project, and had not yet been repaid. This was causing hardship and bad feeling.

My very dear friend, who is indestructibly devoted to the teachings of Buddhism, inspired with devotion to the triple gem and compassion for sentient beings, and who is offering his life to serve sentient beings. The main objective here is the happiness of all sentient beings, to actualize the temporal and ultimate happiness of every single sentient being.

What I would like to say is that everybody please relax; don’t worry, be happy. That sounds a little bit like the talking fish that is made of rubber, moves its head, and is stuck on a piece of wood, similar to the one that I sent Geshe Lama Konchog in Singapore, that made everyone happy*. When people who were depressed went to see Geshe Lama Konchog, they laughed and were happy when they saw that fish. Even Geshe Lama Konchog played it in the middle of the night and slept with the fish next to his cheek. So, my message to everyone is the same as the fish: be happy.

In the past, there may have been some mistakes in this project, and those have become a learning process. There have been obstacles that have become benefits. All of this is dependent arising. The answer is karma, and things have turned out for the best, similarly in the case of the finances.

Of course, a project like this takes time because it has so much benefit for sentient beings, will liberate so many sentient beings every year, making it easy for sentient beings to achieve enlightenment and be free from samsaric suffering.

The important thing is reliance on continuously creating extensive merits, to purify obstacles, and to not create obstacles with our body, speech, and mind. An airplane flies for as long as it has fuel, it is the same with running a car. It is the same with the amount of merit needed for such a big project, and for its success.

Thank you very much to everyone, hope to see you soon, and please enjoy.
With much love and prayers...

* Model of a fish attached to a wooden plaque, like a trophy, which sings and moves.

Business Fails after Sponsoring Dharma Activities
While driving from Singapore to Malaysia, a student and benefactor asked about the experience he’d had that after he became a benefactor, sponsoring charitable spiritual activities, his business declined.

When you encounter such a situation, if you are not careful and not wise, and don’t think correctly, there is a danger that you may lose your faith. You may think that the great, virtuous actions you have performed, all the merit you have collected by offering money or offering service to the guru are what have caused the failure, and you may become afraid and lose your faith. Instead of rejoicing, you may interpret your virtuous actions as bad.

There was a cancer patient who completely recovered from her disease through meditation. The doctors told her that she could only survive two to three months at most. Based on the results of a divination, I sent her the Vajrapani mantra to recite. Vajrapani is the embodiment of Buddha’s power. I also suggested she liberate many animals and later suggested that she live in pure morality by taking 24-hour vows of abstinence, called the Eight Mahayana precepts. I suggested a very simple meditation. Later I heard she had completely recovered, and some time after that I met her in Nepal.

She told me when I met her that after meditating as suggested, when she went to the hospital for an examination, they were suddenly unable to find any cancer. This shocked them. She was the first patient they knew who had been cured of cancer in such a way, and they wanted to write a book about it. She said she would write the book herself.

She came to Nepal to thank me and said the rest of her life was her gift to me. At that time, she told me how she has been incredibly successful in the business of designing clothes, selling ideas for next year’s fashions. She made thousands of dollars doing that, and at that time our organization had great financial hardships. I asked her to help finance three centers and she took on the responsibility happily.

After that she went back to work, and somehow her business failed totally. I explained to her later how it came about that she had to experience these difficulties. I realized what happened was that before her work was not aimed at Dharma, which benefits so many sentient beings, which eliminates the cause of suffering, delusion, and karma, and brings them to the highest happiness of enlightenment. Now that her business’s main aim was Dharma, much more merit was required. The benefit that sentient beings receive from those three centers is vast, so, of course, to be able to offer such help, the benefactor has to have great merit. So, the main obstacle to the success of a business aimed at offering such extensive help to so many beings is not having enough merit.

What’s more, if, after you have achieved strong purification and collected a lot of merit, offering very powerful service to the guru, to sentient beings, or to Sangha, then it is a sign of purification after this if you lose your business.

It is said in the teachings that performing powerful purification practice, such as generating bodhicitta, can prevent one from experiencing the very powerful heavy negative karma of having to be reborn in the lower realms and endure those suffering experiences for eons. Therefore, if, in this life, some catastrophe occurs or one experiences a headache, toothache, nightmare, or if other people criticize you, or you have an unhappy mind and depression, by experiencing all these problems in this human life, that means you will not have to experience many eons of suffering. Similarly, failure in business means you don’t have to experience a much heavier suffering for many eons.

If you had the choice, which one would you choose, not having the bigger suffering in later lives or to be free of such a small hardship in this life? Of course, a wise person would choose not to experience many eons of suffering in many lifetimes, but instead to just experience the problem in this life. You can see that in this case, these problems are very positive, extremely worthwhile things to experience.

This doesn’t mean that this happens to everybody who becomes a benefactor. It only happens to some people who have such karma, not to everyone.

Therefore, it is very important to be wise, and not to lose faith in the Guru Buddha. By thinking, “I did a good thing and then I experienced this problem, therefore there must be something wrong with Dharma,” is not understanding the teachings, especially the teachings on karma. From collecting virtue, the result is happiness, and from collecting non-virtue, the result is suffering. This very basic subject of karma should be kept in mind. Then you can protect your mind in this sort of circumstance, and in many other situations as well.