After this, George did some organizing with some very wealthy people and invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Australia. This was His Holiness’ first trip to Australia and it went extremely well. His Holiness gave talks at a university in Australia and Jeffrey Hopkins was there translating.
Then the second time, Rinpoche also asked George to organize His Holiness’ visit, and he did so together with many other FPMT members. During this trip, more than 30,000 people came to see His Holiness speak in a stadium, so many that they could not all fit into the stadium. This was also an extremely successful visit.
The third time, for the Kalachakra initiation, again George was asked to be the main organizer. He worked with many other members. There were perhaps a thousand people working together to organize this trip, many of them professional people but not Buddhists. This visit went extremely well too. His Holiness visited several cities on that tour, Melbourne, Sydney, where the Kalachakra was held, and other cities.
Rinpoche started asking George to help Tibet in some way, and George revitalized the Australia Tibet Council in Australia. So that one banana Rinpoche gave to George Farley accomplished a lot!
George has been very dedicated for many years to the FPMT and to Rinpoche. He’s very sincere in his strong wish to offer service. He came up with a whole new way to run the FPMT organization. Even though spiritually there had been a lot of progress in the organization—so much teaching, learning, and retreats—there had also been a lot of hardship on the material side. George offered new ideas for how to make the organization more successful with fewer material hardships. Gradually, it began getting better.
Now, recently, a few of George’s friends have died, one after another, and this has led George to think very much about his own death and his life, his inner life. He was reading Pabongka’s commentary on the "Three Principals of the Path", Lama Tsongkhapa’s text, and he reached the point where Pabongka is discussing reputation, saying that there are even yogis and pandits and such people who still cannot give up their important name. George read that and felt shocked. It really made him think and he recognized something of that in himself. George said he recognized that his mind was very dedicated but that he also had some attachment to his reputation.
Rinpoche’s response to George was to mention that, of course, it takes a long time to change, to develop one’s mind. The correct way to do this is with a motivation of bodhicitta. He wrote the following to George:
Quite a number of years ago, I was afraid of being famous, of being known. Now my mind has totally degenerated from that.
I think if one at least has realizations of bodhicitta, emptiness, and renunciation, then it’s worth being famous. It’s worthwhile having a well-known name, because there is no danger for your mind, for your mental continuum. There is only great benefit. Because of your bodhicitta, even if others harm you, as a bodhisattva, for people simply to hear your name, they only get benefit in return, in this life and in future lives.
That is the special quality of the bodhisattva. It makes everything worthwhile. Even for those who harm the bodhisattva, although they create very negative karma on one side, on the other side there’s the advantage of meeting that bodhisattva again and again. That is because the bodhisattva prays only for good things to happen to sentient beings, including those who harm others or who even harm the bodhisattva himself or herself.
It’s like the chemicals you put in a huge water tank or reservoir to kill germs and make it drinkable. Although the amount of chemicals is very small, it affects so much water drunk by so many millions of people. By having these realizations, especially bodhicitta, just one person can benefit the world so powerfully. It is so dynamic, such a benefit.
Otherwise, having power, wealth, or a famous name is only suffering. Without a Dharma mind, without even the motivation of the three principal paths, without at least living the life of the good heart with the thought of benefiting others, everything is suffering. Whatever lifestyle one has, no matter how famous one is or how many millions or zillions of dollars one has, it is all just suffering. It’s nothing special.
More power and more fame means more suffering, and a greater danger of creating more negative karma. It becomes more of a prison. Not only that—not only is there this suffering for oneself—without a good heart, power also becomes dangerous for others. That’s because without a good heart, power can be misused, and instead of bringing great benefit, it can cause great harm.
Even with just a good heart but without the realization of bodhicitta, there is no danger of others receiving harm, only benefit. With the idea of renunciation, however much power you have, others do not receive harm. Even if there is no immediate practical benefit for them, there is at least no harm.
Take as an example Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Look what differences Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, one living being, made to the world—enlightened and enlightening numberless sentient beings and liberating so many from total suffering. And he is still benefiting numberless sentient beings and bringing them from happiness to happiness in every second, because the teachings he left behind are functioning to benefit sentient beings in this way.
Look at the differences made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has been giving unbelievable peace and happiness to many millions of people in the world. Then look at what Mao Tse-Tung did. So you have two people, His Holiness and Mao Tse-Tung. His Holiness brings benefits as vast as the sky and then there is what Mao Tse-Tung or Hitler did. Look at one person in the world and what he did. It is all a question of one person’s mind, whether there is compassion or not.
Then you can think of the great Italian saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and how much he benefited others. His story is a very loving story. He totally renounced samsaric pleasures. He didn’t like to receive praise from others and from his students, only criticism. He specifically asked his students to criticize him, pointing out bad things and telling him he would go to hell for those things. But his students could not think of anything bad. They could only see good things. So his practice was like the Buddhist practice of the great Kadampa Geshes. He was a great meditator of thought transformation.
Then there was Gandhi-ji, who renounced violence, sacrificing his own life for others, for the peace and happiness of others.
On the other side, those stories, of a person who killed many millions of people shows basically a lack of compassion. This is the point. Without realizations of bodhicitta, or without at least a good heart, power, wealth, and a famous name are not only poison for oneself, they bring danger to others.
In the case of His Holiness and other bodhisattvas, the more greater their power, wealth, and reputation, the more benefit there is for others. Bodhisattvas look for these things in order to be able to bring vast benefits. They purposefully reincarnate in royal families, in families of wealth and reputation, so they can offer charity to others and show by their example to other sentient beings that although they have everything, they see only suffering.
To teach sentient beings, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha showed us this by his example. He renounced his power and wealth, and went to do retreat in solitary places after having found his guru. Bodhisattvas use wealth and reputation to benefit others. They achieve this, then they benefit others.