My dharma name is Daoli, a novice volunteer of the Publicity Group, and also a photographic volunteer for the Bodhi Retreat Camp.
Before I became a photographic volunteer for the Bodhi Retreat Camp, I thought it was a glorious job – one walks and takes photos here or there, saying rejoice to everyone. With photographic experiences accumulated in reading clubs, Buddhism-learning salons and other activities, I thought it would also be easy for me. After I happily arrived at West Garden Temple and joined the Publicity Group, I was surprised to find that this volunteer position not only had requirement on the quantity of photos taken, but also set high standard on the quality. I was stressed.
Already in the first two days after I joined the Publicity Group, I was deeply impressed by the other photographic volunteers. The high artistic level of their photographic works and the uplifted state of their lives as a result of the practice of Dharma are truly admirable. When I compared myself with them, I became even more stressed.
Thus, I started my volunteer work with a mentality of comparison and subjective judgment. Without a pure and clean mind, I was overwhelmed by stress which made me lose the ability and sensitivity to find beauty in the unfamiliar environment. As a result, the photos I took didn’t fit well with the subject and I couldn't independently accomplish the job of photographing for the reporting of the activities. This in turn made me more anxious. The experience of volunteering was supposed to be happy, but for me it turned into a “painful cycle”.
Being trapped in this situation, I began to ask myself – why did I so easily fall into the control of self-attachment and emotions? Did I come to the Bodhi Retreat Camp just for doing some work?
Thanks to the timely reminder from the Dharma brothers in the photography team, I realized that that the goal of volunteering for the retreat camp is to practice the twofold program that consists of the three-level cultivation system and the public service system, and that to do volunteer work is to practice the Dharma. I should aspire to bring benefits to all sentient beings and take photos with a giving and rejoicing mind.
I should be motivated by aspiration, not by outer stress; I should make efforts, instead of being attached to the results; I should regain my sensitivity to beauty, with a pure and open mind; and I should record the extraordinary retreat camp and the dharma joy of the participants with a giving and rejoicing.
Thus, in the fifth “Lakeside Reading Session” with the subject of Obeying Conditions and Making Efforts, I completely emptied myself and immersed myself in every touching moment of the activity. By doing so, I was surprised to find that the self of mine that had been reborn in the Three-Level Cultivation came back. With a joyful mind, I was able to independently accomplish the photography for reporting the activity.