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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 37 Such open intelligence, however, de- mands that we drop any pretense or strat- egy. Who we are and how we want to be perceived; what we want to accomplish and how we want to get there—these be- come unimportant. In short, we become irrelevant. Dropping our point of view—indeed, our identity altogether—we discover that to lead from a position of openness is to be undefended, engaged, and raw. At times such vulnerability can be freeing, because we stop wrestling with our personal anxi- ety, resentment, and fear and simply ex- pose ourselves fully to our world. Yet such vulnerability can be terrifying, since we can’t rely on familiar postures, emotions, or clichés for comfort and reassurance. The suggestion that we lead by being vulnerable may seem absurd. Leaders, it is typically believed, should be equipped with all kinds of armor. They should be invinci- ble and potent, able to bear the slings and arrows of workplace competition and hos- tility. Usually we think of being vulnerable at work as being weak, inadequate, shame- fully flawed. From a Buddhist perspective, however, open vulnerability is not a weak- ness but a wisdom that is poised, skillful, and astute. The Olympic figure skater who flawlessly executes a double open axel un- derstands the wisdom of vulnerability. The classroom teacher who pauses to soak in a child’s anxious resistance before reacting understands this wisdom. The manager who genuinely listens to the disgruntled employee, the attorney who drops an ad- versarial mindset, the martial artist at her ease—each understands the open wisdom of vulnerability. In the Buddhist tradition of the bodhi- sattva, rather than leading with will, pow- er, and ambition, we lead and inspire with openness, intelligence, and vulnerability. Such leadership is quite natural but it must be cultivated and not taken for granted. We can develop our personal sense of openness in two ways: through mindfulness meditation and by exchanging ourselves for others. Mindfulness meditation is how we ex- ercise our “opening muscle.” It’s like going to the “bodhisattva gym” for a workout. FOUNDATION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE MAHAYANA TRADITION Study at home with FPMT Discovering Buddhism at Home Transform your mind, transform your life, with this comprehensive package of study and practice. Teachings and guided meditations led by senior Western teachers provided on audio CD. Readings and transcripts on text CD. Basic Program Homestudy Engage in intensive study at a post- introductory level of a comprehensive selection of texts from within the Gelug monastic tradition. Presented in 9 modules taught primarily by Tibetan geshes on DVD. Six subjects now available. Masters Program Study Materials Immerse yourself in the fine points of advanced Buddhist philosophy and training. Complete transcripts of five subjects spanning seven years of teachings provided on text CD. One subject now available. Many teachers, one family.