Friday, December 25, 2009

Buddhist Groups Must be Patient & Smart

I have been away for sometime and I have much to update. Just be patient. For the moment, I have this to say.

Groups of Buddhists anywhere in the world intending to start a small centre or study group, should be patient. It will take years to build from a small group to a large one. My advice is not to be overly ambitious and start committing your group to buying huge properties that is beyond your financial means. Be smart and plan your finances. Don't commit yourself to building huge stupas, huge monasteries, etc etc and then start praying desperately to Arya Dzambala for wealth. When wealth doesnot come or people do not sponsor as much as you expect, or your membership does not grow as many, then you start lamenting why the blessings do not come from all your sutra recitations, all the mandala offerings you have made, all the prayers to Dzambala? There is a saying from other religions that God helps those who help themselves. This is true in our case too. The Buddha and Arya Dzambala help those who help themselves. Think first before you start on any ambitious plan for your Buddhist group...especially those plans that involve committing huge sums of money. I am saying this because I know of Buddhist groups that now have a huge headache of how to raise funds for the huge sum of liability they have committed in buying the property for their centre. They should have thought of buying a smaller premise... or rent instead of purchase.

I'll tell you what went wrong if your prayers to Dzambala didnot result in substantial wealth. It's not because the sutras did not work. It's not because Dzambala did not listen. It's not because the mantras didnot work. The truth hurts and what I am going to say may potentially hurt the feelings of some people, but it is better to start recognising the truth now than later. It was because of our own ego and financial ignorance that we may have committed ourselves to liabilities that are beyond our means of funding. Did we do a proper financial projection? Did we do a proper 5-year or 10-year plan? Just as smart businessmen would prepare a comprehensive Business Plan before they embark on any business to check its viability, so should Buddhist groups prepare a Project Plan before they embark on any project involving a large sum of funding. Otherwise, it could potential be destined for failure. A word of caution though: a project plan is no guarantee to success but it is better having one than none at all.

This is also part of risk management that I touched on in my previous posts. You reduce your probability of failure by doing a proper financial project planning before going on a ego trip of buying large premises for your group/centre or constructing huge stupas/buildings. But if your group is already big and has a large pool of sponsors/members, including wealthy or influential patrons, then by all means, if you are confident enough to forego the Project Plan, then its a different matter altogether. However, it is also wrong to embark on too many projects or more than you could manage.

These are only my thoughts since I have a little knowledge on financial matters. If this is sound advice, please heed it. If not, ignore it. Think about it, ok? Sarvam mangalam.

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