We say that with the guidance of a virtuous and enlightened friend, our life will improve and become more noble. Our fellow practitioners can be that virtuous and enlightened friend, a very good friend. Even the non-initiated people outside can be our teachers sometimes, reminding us of some beautiful things. For instance, observing them doing good deeds or speaking some good things, our heart will become more open. Even if we saw them doing bad deeds, at least we can learn a lesson and refrain from doing the same!
That was why the ancient sages said, "In the company of three people, there will be one who can be my teacher." I would say all three of them are our teachers. Each person living in this world has their particular obligation and mission. If we are close or related to a certain person, definitely he has a mission concerning us. It might be good or bad, but he is responsible for giving us a lesson. So, please keep your eyes and ears open, detect what God is trying to teach us through that person close to us. However, we should use what we have learnt, and not keep reciting it like a parrot or a tape recorder, which is useless of course.
Recently, I have often asked you to help do, or organize disaster relief work. Of course, we are trying to help them because of our compassion, and our uneasiness when seeing others in a suffering condition. However, we are not doing it only for the victims. Participating in the relief work, we are also helping to develop our own compassion, fulfil our obligation, and learn how to respond to a situation.
Distributing the rice is not all there is. In the affected area, you will come across people whose emotions, feelings and urgent living needs are similar to yours. You might have to face the problems they are facing also. After talking to them, you can find out more about the inner needs of the individual. Then, you are tested on how you react and how you comfort them, counsel them, help them overcome the problems in their life. That is your lesson to learn. Without putting it into practice, it is useless listening to my words for years, because you have not experienced it in benefiting others.
Okay, I have said that much, so I won't say any more. I wish everyone a happy and successful new year, achieving early enlightenment and liberation.