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Lions Roar : September 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 1 5 I’VE JUST FINISHED WRITING a book called Ruling Your World. Although I drew from ancient texts and teachings, I want- ed to write about how we live right now. Speed rules us. Entertainment and consumption have diluted our sense of dig- nity and decency. Our days and nights are full of distraction. Under such conditions it is easy to be fooled into thinking that life is only about accomplishing short-term goals for short-term satisfaction, based on keeping “me” happy. But when we’re each saving the last piece of pie for ourselves, we are constantly under- mining the possibility of true stability and happiness. Trying to achieve happiness without understanding the cause of happiness is like looking through the wrong end of the binocu- lars—happiness doesn’t get bigger and closer, it gets smaller and further away. When we are bewildered about the source of hap- piness, we act in ways that bring more confusion and chaos into our life. Aggression, greed, and fear become our language. Being dragged around by emotions destabilizes our mind, our day, our life, and ultimately, the welfare of our planet. The legendar y kingdom of Shambhala arose from the Buddha’s observation that for a society to be truly harmonious, it cannot be based on jealousy, greed, and anger. Beautiful old redwood trees do not come from planting the seeds of a cactus. If we want a productive and peaceful world—one that generates love and happiness—it must be rooted in the freedom of mind and openness of heart that bring genuine stability. Such stability comes from certainty in basic goodness, the awakened nature of our mind that cannot be bought and sold. Like a crystal, basic goodness is all colors, yet it is no color. It is profound, without beginning or end. It is fathomless—beyond words, even beyond thought. Basic goodness transcends the con- cepts of good and bad. That is why it is called basic. It doesn’t wax or wane from one moment to the next. If we’re feeling depressed, basic goodness doesn’t diminish. It is beyond mood or manipula- tion. To rule our world is to connect with this deep, unshakeable inner strength, the nature of everyone and everything. We think of rulers as being very concerned with territory. But rulership begins when we see that there is nothing to possess but our own awareness. We all possess basic goodness already, but we’re not certain about our nobility. Our instability and confusion keep it hidden. Like paupers, we begin to stray from it as soon as we wake up in the morning, looking for the world to make us happy. Our thoughts drag us around by a ring in our nose, as if we were cows in an Indian market. This is how we lose control of our lives. We don’t understand that the origin of happiness is right here in our mind, just waiting to be discovered. The Buddha is an example of a human being who developed the potential to rule his world. By sitting still and working with his mind, he realized his basic goodness, uncovered essential truths about reality, and developed techniques to help others do the same. Since I’m a Buddhist, he is my role model, but obvious- ly basic goodness is not confined to any one tradition. It is the essence of everyone and everything. Practicing meditation and contemplation is how we purify our mind, just as we polish a crystal ball, so that we can actually see the full display of radiance. The Shambhala teachings tell us to begin by placing our mind in “the cradle of loving-kindness.” We do this by stabilizing our mind on the breath. As we watch our thoughts arise and fall, we begin to see their inherent instability. At the same time, we begin to connect with the space around the thoughts: the strong, clear, and stable energy of mind that is bigger than our mental drama, where we begin to experience moments of freedom from the dis- cursive agitation of “me.” Becoming familiar with this space is how we lay the ground for genuine stability. A Reign of Goodness A peaceful, stable world is built on freedom of mind and openness of heart, says SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE.The place to begin is with our own basic goodness. ILLUSTRATIONBYMOLLYNUDELL Tibetan symbol for windhorse