In the Sutra of Golden Light, Buddha Shakyamuni gives this advice:
“The one who wishes to make unimaginable offerings to all buddhas, and who wishes to know the profound sphere of tathagatas should go to that place – whether monastery or dwelling – where this sublime sutra is explained.”
Recite the Sutra of Golden Light for Peace and Global Harmony
What is the Sutra of Golden Light? It’s an ancient teaching given by the Buddha to empower the kings of his time to govern with wisdom and compassion. Even today, reciting the Sutra creates the cause for wise and compassionate leadership. You can see it in the contents of this beautiful sutra. Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche has repeatedly requested us, from the bottom of his heart, to recite this Sutra due to the grave situation – violence, oppression, corporate greed, environmental catastrophe – facing us on this planet today.
The idea of the campaign is very simple: read as many times as possible the Sutra of Golden Light. You can do the readings as an individual or as a group. It takes 2-3 hours to recite the Sutra in its entirety. By reciting this Sutra in particular, we create the positive energy necessary to result in wise and compassionate leadership in our world, peace, tolerance, and a healthy environment. We can empower ourselves by reciting this, knowing that no energy is wasted, that with our pure intention combined with the action of reading this sutra, absolutely anything is possible. Imagine thousands or millions of people reciting it around the world, intent on creating peace and healing in our minds and our world.
How reciting the Sutra creates the cause for change
It may seem strange to some that something like a thought or a prayer can change the course of the external world. However, while the western world has spent a lot of time and research learning to understand such things as physics, how our bodies function, and electricity, for thousands of years eastern minds have been plunging the depths of consciousness, and we can learn a lot from what they’ve found. Only a few hundred years ago we would have found such things as electrical power and our current wireless world unbelievable. Ideas such as thought power extending into the material world are not such a stretch, especially if we think of how our brains are basically powered by electricity and brainwaves. Scientific studies on the power of prayer and meditation are showing this, and the scientific community is beginning to see its validity.
We can see with our own eyes that production does not happen without first creating the cause. If you want a high paying job, you have to get a good education, work experience and send your resume to dozens, if not hundreds of organizations. If you want to build a nice house, you need to have the finances, a good design, a crew of builders, and every material it takes to put together a house. If you want to grow food, you need seeds, land, fertilizer, water, care, pest control, etc. Nothing we can see comes without creating the cause. Even more important is the inner cause in our mind. So why is social change any different from this? It is not.
Everything requires the potential energy or power in our minds in order to manifest. Any positive action we engage in creates positive energy, which brings positive results. This concept of potential energy is the Tibetan word sonam and is commonly translated as merit. We are often told to think of it like a bank account. Our positive actions are stored in our mental bank account as merit. This is our storehouse of potential to manifest our wishes in the material world. We need a lot of merit to change public policy, and that is precisely what accrues from reciting this Sutra.
For friends who are not familiar with the concept of merit, it may be helpful to explain this process in terms of basic physics. Let’s take the example of a ball rolling down the hill. There is potential energy inherent in that ball and there is kinetic energy that is released when the ball begins to roll down the hill. The amount of kinetic energy released when we push the ball, which determines distance that ball will roll, is dependent on the amount of potential energy that is stored in the ball prior to take-off. If you have two balls that are the same size, but one is made of solid lead and is heavy and the other is hollow, the heavy ball will roll much further down the hill, or across the field than a light hollow ball. The heavy ball is dense with potential energy so it goes further. I have been told that one of the meanings of the word lama in Tibetan refers to the concept of heavy. Lamas are heavy with merit.
This idea of having a heavy ball to roll down a hill applies to everything we want to do. The more merit behind a dream, the more success we experience in realizing that dream. That is why we have to spend so much energy building up positive potential in our mindstreams to create the cause to experience realizations on the path to enlightenment; or why a piano player spends hours and hours practicing before they become a concert pianist. In the realm of social change, physics is no different.
We can actually DO something that is really productive to make changes in our predicament of a world becoming more war-torn, our environment becoming more unhealthy. One of the greatest contributions Buddhism can offer to the western world is the idea of creating the cause for change to happen. We need to understand that people can write to their congressional or parliamentary representatives, protest in the street, or write articles in papers about the need to do something to stop global warming and war; but if we haven’t created the cause for this to happen, there is very little benefit to social action. Reading the Sutra of Golden Light, if done with altruistic motivation, will create that cause we are looking for!
This is how we can actually change the social conditions on our planet and how we can also attain enlightenment. In fact, the activists NEED our help! The activists can do this too! If the potential energy or merit is not accumulated in the minds of the people, political activity will bear little fruit. If we create the weight in our ball, which is the will to stop war and global warming with our recitations, then, when the activists kick it, they can make it to their goal. We can create a heavy merit ball and kick it in the direction of enlightenment, world peace and environmental sanity with our motivation and dedication. Buddhism is physics applied to the human experience. So, why not do it? Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche and all the Buddhas say if we do the practice to create the cause, there is no way the result won’t happen. If we want global harmony, we need a great deal of potential energy. How do we get that? Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, “BY RECITING THE SUTRA OF GOLDEN LIGHT!”
Reciting the Sutra of Golden Light
In our homes and in our centers, we can host weekly or biweekly sutra recitation parties where we invite our friends to join us for refreshments and meaningful fun. It is actually blissful to sit with a group of 6 to 10 people and recite parts of the sutra altogether. You divide up the numbers of the pages of the sutra by the number of people present. Each person is given their allotment of the sutra’s pages. For example, if that number is 16, then one person recites pages 1-16, the next person recites 17-32, and like that until all the pages are distributed among the friends.
After everyone has their assigned pages, someone in the group leads a meditation that includes refuge and an inspiring motivation to end all suffering and disharmony in the universe. Add to that a motivation for global kindness and wisdom that will produce leaders who will legislate for world peace, sane environmental policies, help for the sick and the poor and whatever else you wish for (don’t forget the Maitreya Project!) Then the fun commences when everyone recites their pages simultaneously; the cacophony of sounds mixed with the joy and amazement that comes from reading such powerful words makes everyone happy. Afterwards, people can’t help but share what they learned from the pages they read, and usually they are inspired to read more. When you are finished with the recitation, be sure to dedicate all the positive energy to the healing of our world, wise and compassionate leadership, the end of violence and oppression, and any other results you hope for.
People who aren’t Buddhist are inspired by this practice as well. People feel such a need to engage in meaningful activity these days, the suffering is so intense, that something like this appeals to a broad spectrum. So don’t be afraid to ask all your friends! If you have 6-8 or even 15, the recitation doesn’t take long, so don’t worry, they will have fun! You can do it at lunch time with your office mates. They may do it just to humor you, especially if you offer great treats, but after they do it once, they’ll want to do it again! If you have enough people, it only takes about 15 minutes to do a reading and even non-Buddhists can be tickled by the fun of so many people reading simultaneously, especially if they know we are creating the cause for a better life for us all, and even enlightenment.