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Lions Roar : November 2014
to be bright, uplifting, and encouraging. So, yes, i intend to say something bright and encourag- ing. But i thought i would be more convincing if i were also realistic. and it is realistic to say that your lives from now on are likely not to be entirely smooth sailing. the truth is, it takes a great deal of fortitude and moral strength to sustain a worth- while, happy, and virtuous human life over time in the world as it actually is. okay, here is the uplifting part: your life isn’t and has never been about you. it isn’t and has never been about what you accom- plish, how successful you are or are not, how much money you make, what sort of position you ascend to, or even about your family, your associa- tions, your various communities, or how much good you do for others or the world at large. your life, like mine, and like everyone else’s, has always been about one thing: love. Who are you, really? Where did you come from? Why were you born? When this short human journey is over, where are you going? Why, and how, does any of this exist? What is the pur- pose and the point of it all? Not even your Nobel Prize-winning professors know the answers to these questions. None of us knows the answers. all we know is that we are here for a while before we are gone, and that we are here together. the only thing that makes sense and that is completely real is love. Love is the only answer. this is no mystery—everyone knows this. Whether your destiny is to have a large loving family or to have no partner and no family, love is available to you wherever you look. When you dedicate your- self to love, to trying your best to be kind and benefit everyone you meet, then you will be okay and your life, whatever it brings, will be a beautiful life. But how do you love? How do you make love real in your life? this doesn’t happen by itself. it takes attention, commitment, continuity, and effort. it won’t come automatically, from wishing or believing or assuming. you are going to have to figure out how not to get distracted by your suc- cess or your lack of success, by your needs, your desires, your suffering, and your various interests, and keep your eye on the ball of love, even as you juggle all the rest of it. to find and develop love you have to commit yourself firmly to it. you have to have a way, a path, a practice, for cultivating love throughout your lifetime, come what may. Love isn’t just a feeling. it is an overarching attitude and spirit. it’s a way of life. it’s a daily activity. in my life i have cultivated love through a path of spiritual practice, a life of meditation, study, and reflection. i think you also will need a path of spiritual practice. you’ll need some kind of reli- gious life if you are going to survive this difficult human journey with your heart intact and your love generous and bright. a spiritual or religious life doesn’t need to look like what we have so far thought of as a spiritual life. the world now is too varied and connected for the old paths to work. Not that the old paths are outmoded—they are as useful as they ever were, perhaps more so. But they need to be refor- matted and reconfigured for our lives as they are now. above all, they need to be open and tolerant, transparent rather than opaque, and expansive rather than exclusive. a spiritual life can and should be much more lively and interesting than we have previously imagined. to investigate at the deepest possible level the human heart and the purposes of human life should be—maybe must be—deeply engag- ing and satisfying. there are a million ways to approach it, but the main thing is some commit- Spiritual practices come from love, they encourage love, and they produce love. When you do them over time, you find that you are living in a world full of love. it’s possible that one day you will find your- self wondering what you have been doing all these years, and who you have become. SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2014 65