When we study the Buddha’s teachings, no matter who teaches us, we are learning from the Buddha himself, for all these teachings ultimately derive from the Buddha. The Buddha appeared in the world to lead people out of suffering and show them the way to the highest happiness and peace. Through his deep wisdom, he understood that suffering and happiness both originate from causes and conditions. He taught humanity, clearly and fully, how to align our lives with the causes that lead to real happiness.
For this reason, Buddhism is not a religion of mere faith and worship but a system of education. To study the Dharma is to sit at the Buddha’s feet and learn the principles that will lead to the highest happiness and freedom. We should study the Dharma with a twofold purpose in mind: first, how to live a life that will be truly beneficial to ourselves, a life that will give us deep satisfaction; and second, how to contribute effectively to the good of others, how to be a source of blessings for humankind.
As we study the teachings, reflect on them, and meditate on them, we are gradually giving birth to wisdom in our minds and hearts. When it rains, the trees, flowers, and shrubs absorb the rain and grow each in accordance with their own nature. Learning the Dharma is similar. The Buddha is like the rain cloud, the Dharma is like the rain, and we are like the plants that absorb the water.
This summer Dharma camp (2014) gives you all a precious opportunity. Though during these days you will have fun and make new friends, don’t forget that the ultimate purpose of coming here is to make friends with the Buddha, to enjoy learning the Dharma, and to acquire a tool that will benefit you all through your lives.
May your time here be of value to you throughout your lives!
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi