Why are we having study groups?
Teaching excerpt from Late Master Ven. Jih-Chang (translated from its original in Chinese)
There are deep meanings behind the implementation of Lamrim study groups.
1) Have you ever had the following experience such that when you read the text alone, the contents are indeed very intriguing; however, the imprints on our minds are seemingly blurry, and not deep enough. If we talk it over with friends, and even share our views in a class, the truth can better be seen through the debates. Eventually, the context will be thoroughly understood and memorized steadfastly.
2) Another experience that we may all have experienced – even though we would like to engage in Buddhist practice, we are usually tied up by worldly matters or friends. Our motivation for Buddhist practice will die down eventually, and furthermore, we may never move forward. On the contrary, if we ever join a study group, when seeing others in the circles practicing Buddhism so diligently and having strong aspiration, how could we possibly be slack and undisciplined? This is the protection a group offers us.
3) Finally, if one has faith towards the concept of causality – karma, one should realize that the reason there is an opportunity to practice Buddhism in this lifetime is the fruition of the virtuous deeds that one has committed in the previous lives. On the other hand, when we practice hard, we are committing good causes/karma for having further opportunities of practicing in the future lifetime. Most importantly, as long as we practice hard both qualitatively and quantitatively (according to what Buddha tells us), we will certainly be supported by Lord Buddha and Bodhisattvas so that in our learning path we can accumulate favorable conditions and purify obscurations in this life, and be reborn into a Buddhist society in the next life time.