Sometimes we call the group of people who are active in the Buddhist center a “mandala.” What does this mean?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Mandalas are self-arisen enlightened power-fields. This term is also used for the people who belong to this power-field through attuning themselves to an enlightened principle. Concerning the groups that are connected to me, it works like this: as long as we are friends, are honest with each other, and trust each other, everything that happens in the centers will express Karmapa’s whole circle of protection.

It is important that these mandalas are beyond personal. As the Danish saying goes, “The cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people.” However often one may think, “Everything depends on me and nothing will work without me,” as soon as someone leaves, something within the power-field shifts and others take over that job. New aspects come in and maybe everything works even better than before.

Many people think that those who are active in the centers are completely altruistic and self-sacrificing, and are only working for others. These people hold themselves back from getting too involved in the center because they are afraid they won’t have enough time for their own practice. But actually, one also does center work for oneself. If we manage to be a good example at all times and not slack off when people come to hear something, we will experience real spiritual growth. After a long, hard day’s work, when we’re just about to pat ourselves on the back, there are people standing there again, with their uncle who hasn’t understood anything about the teachings. It just goes on like that until someday we forget to pat our own back and the ego dies miserably of starvation. Then everything is fun; whatever happens is meaningful and we experience it all as a gift. That’s where we want to be.

It’s a little secret: one does the work for others, but the one who does the work benefits most.