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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 19 ALTHOUGH WE’RE INTELLIGENT peo- ple who live in a technologically sophisti- cated world, we’re often confused about the meaning of success. The reason is that we are caught in the cycle of thinking that out- side factors will bring us what we want. We’re in a very materialistic society. Our mind is trained to adhere itself to every- thing and anything, and it wants things to be a certain way. So we mistakenly associ- ate worldly activity with negative emotion: success comes from using ambition and greed to make things go our way. Our first thought in the morning is often some varia- tion of “Will I get what I want today?” And when the world gives us what we want, we call it a good life, a good day, success. In the Shambhala teachings, what we call a good life and a good day is something different. True success is having a fulfilled, meaningful, and happy mind. To achieve this kind of success, we have to point ourselves continually in the right direction. So if we want to be successful, we need to learn what our mind is and how it works, because without the ability to rule our thoughts, we are seduced or abducted by every whim that walks through the door. Being trapped by negative emotions and perpetuating them is not success, it is ignorance. The magnet of “What about me?” dulls our mind and draws away windhorse—the ability to bring about true success. We are taught at such a young age to fight for everything, and to hold on to what we get. The time of death is painful because everything we fought for is taken away. We’re left with anxiety, suffering, and not knowing. The Buddha said we need to look beyond this, to ask, What can be gained that we can truly have? True success is beyond our conventional level of expectation. It requires a slightly different approach to life, one in which we’re letting go a little bit. In meditation, we train the mind to wake up. First we train it to focus on what is happening in the moment, underneath our habitual self-absorption. The mindfulness and awareness we learn offer the revolutionary opportunity to observe the move- ment of the mind without being swept into it. In following the breath we soon see that thoughts are mere vibrations of the mind, not our personal identity. In relaxing our grip on “me,” we’re laying the foundation for a shift in attitude that has the power to change our lives. For a short time each day, we are cul- tivating peace rather than anger and jealousy. That feeling of peace lays the ground for seeing clearly where we are: Our life is precious, and it will end. We see that the power of karma is as inescapable a force as gravity, and that continually making decisions in the name of “me” keeps us on the wheel of suffering, the opposite of success. We also begin to realize our inherent noble qualities, such as love and compassion. We care about the lives of others. Just like us, they want happiness. Like us, they do not want to suffer. When we contemplate these qualities in formal meditation, compassion and love may feel overwhelming. We’ve been doing “What about me?” practice for so long that opening up is scary. But as we visualize our mother, our child, or someone else we love, we experience caring. We want that person to be happy and to know the good mind that brings happiness. We stabilize that mind, enlarge it, and practice taking it off the cushion and into our day. Eventually we might be able to say, “May that driver in front of me enjoy happiness and the root of happiness” instead of honking our horn. Wishing others happiness at school or in the office may bring up jealousy, agitation, and other emotions. Although the point of thinking of others is not to heighten our own negativity, seeing how we hang on to “me” can deepen our feeling for what others are experiencing. Everyone suffers in the same way for the same The Real Secret The real secret of success, the one the self-help books don’t tell us, is putting others first. SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE says that’s the key to a fulfilled, meaningful, and happy life. NOV 18-39.indd 19 NOV 18-39.indd 19 8/29/07 2:05:33 PM 8/29/07 2:05:33 PM