My most dear George,
I was very happy to get your news of your five weeks of traveling, getting to know your two dakinis (two angels). I am very happy that you are just thinking about this project, that means it can happen. A small question I have, like a small fish jumping out of water, why is this project more difficult for you than the other projects you have done? Is it to do with how people invest and get their money back?
I didn't understand well about the devotional part. For people who are doing work with that mind, the mind of devotion, it makes the purpose of work more clear, the direction more clear, and that is the path to enlightenment and service for sentient beings. That is a way of purifying the mind of obstacles and collecting extensive merits.
This was how it happened with Milarepa. Marpa (who was Milarepa's teacher) asked Milarepa to build a nine-story tower without any help, not even to use a donkey to carry the stones. Then he asked Milarepa to pull it down and build it again. This happened three times.
When Milarepa appeared at his teachings, Marpa would scold him. In the end, Marpa's wisdom mother (wife) insisted Marpa give teachings and initiations to Milarepa, so he did. Marpa was an enlightened being, so he manifested the actual mandala of the deity and gave teachings, then Milarepa went to the mountains, meditated in a cave, and achieved enlightenment in that lifetime.
Without practicing Tantra you have to achieve enlightenment over three countless eons. By practicing Lower Tantra you can achieve enlightenment in one life. By practicing Highest Tantra you can achieve enlightenment in a matter of a few years. Milarepa could do this because he was a very strongly devoted disciple, with no wrong thoughts arising. All the hard work Milarepa did before receiving teachings was for his purification.
The way Marpa treated Milarepa is important to understand. I am not sure you know the story of Milarepa and the meaning behind it. The story started with Milarepa's uncle doing very bad things to Milarepa's family. Milarepa’s mother got very upset and wanted to take revenge on the uncle and his family, so she sent Milarepa to get training in the black arts and Milarepa did. After receiving this training, he then killed his uncle and his family by causing his house to collapse. Because of this harm that Milarepa caused, when Milarepa met Marpa, Marpa had to use skilful means to purify his negative karma that he had created before and also have Milarepa accumulate a lot of merit. So, Marpa used skilful means and was able to do this because of Milarepa's strong devotion. He guided Milarepa by putting him through great hardship over a long period of time, not giving him teachings or initiations. After this, he granted the teachings and initiations, Milarepa went to a cave, meditated, and achieved enlightenment in that life. It is important to think of the meaning behind this story.
By saying this I don't mean I am like Marpa, I wouldn't dare to say that, it will take me billions of eons to become like Marpa, but what I mean to say is that our Dharma connection gives meaning to the work, it makes a difference like between the sky and the earth. By taking this project, no matter how difficult it is, it is the path to enlightenment, that is the clear direction of life.
I have no doubt about your motivation, it is like very clean water. Besides your having the motivation and the devotion, even the workers who participate in the building of this holy object, even if they are not my students, even if they are just laborers and have a worldly motivation (non-virtue – working just for this life), because of the power of the holy object, then the action becomes virtue and they collect extensive merits. The situation is very different due to the power of the holy object. It is not like working for a Coca Cola company or chocolate company; there is a huge difference, like between the earth and sky.
As you know, generally, for actions to become virtue or to become the cause of happiness, one needs a virtuous motivation, which means one has to put in a lot of effort. It is like breathing meditation makes the mind neutral and from there it is easier to transform the mind into virtue. Most people are very habituated to delusions, since beginningless rebirths, so this is the difficulty in keeping the mind or making the mind virtuous. The exception is when actions are performed in relation to holy objects. When this happens, immediately they become a cause for enlightenment, even if the motivation is negative. The existence of holy objects makes it easy for sentient beings to create the cause of happiness, so success comes along the way and suffering is reduced. This is besides all the social service benefits of this project.
I am very, very happy by your merely thinking of this project. You mentioned about devotion, so I am just bringing this up here. Bodhisattvas do whatever is beneficial for sentient beings, their actions can even be wrathful, because their hearts are compassionate and they do what is necessary to benefit others.
Sorry, this is another chance for me to chat more about Dharma.
Hoping to see you very soon,
With love and prayers...