A Question of Heart: Throw the Hatred Out
by Chögyam Trungpa
We have to be genuine, which means not having aggression and being true to oneself. A lot of us feel attacked by our own aggression and by our own misery and pain. What we need, to begin with, is to develop kindness toward ourselves and then to develop kindness toward others. It sounds very simpleminded, which it is. At the same time, it is very difficult to practice.
I would like to keep our discussion very simple and direct. Pain causes a lot of chaos and resentment, and we have to overcome that. It is an extremely simple logic. Once we can overcome pain, we discover intrinsic joy, and we have less resentment towards the world and ourselves. By being here, naturally being here, we have less resentment. Resentment is not being here. We are somewhere else, because we are preoccupied with something else. When we are here, we are simply here- without resentment and without preoccupation.
Joining Together Sadness and Joy
We have to know how to act or manifest fully. We are not going to spend unnecessary time philosophizing. Time is short and the situation is urgent. So we don't have time to discuss metaphysics, but we do have time to discuss know-how, how to actualize goodness. I would like to share that particular wisdom with all of you. In fact, I'm delighted to do so.
Ordinarily, when you talk about feeling sad, it means that you are so hurt; you feel so bad. When you talk about feeling joyous, it means that you feel excited and uplifted. The real heart of genuineness is to develop sadness and joy at once. You feel tender - extremely tender and sad. When you fall in love for the first time, you have delightful thoughts about your lover, but at the same time you feel somewhat sad. It's not purely that your lover isn't with you, but you feel tender even when you're together. On the spot, in the same room, when you look at your lover, it feels great, but at the same time, it feels very touching and sad. It is wonderful, in fact it is ideal, that human emotions are expressed that way. When you feel sad, therefore you feel great. Hot and cold, sweet and sour, at once, take place.
According to the Shambhala principles, you can feel that way with everything you do. Whether you have a good time or a bad time, you can feel sad and full of delight at once. That is how to be a real decent human being.
This is also connected with the Buddhist principle of longing, or devotion. Longing is the hunger for sacredness. When you feel you're too much in the secular world, you long for a sacred world. Therefore, you feel sad, and you open yourself up that way. When you feel so sad and tender, that also brings ideas for how to uplift the rest of the world. Joining sadness and joy is the way to help others.
Leaving the Cocoon and Taking Responsibility for the World
In the Shambhala tradition, we talk about being a warrior. In this case, a warrior is not someone who wages war. A Shambhala warrior is someone who is brave enough not to give into the aggression and contradictions that exist in society. A warrior, or pawo in Tibetan, is a brave person, a genuine person who is able to step out of the cocoon - which is the shyness and aggression in which we wrap ourselves.
Your cocoon is fabricated out of tremendous aggression, which comes from fighting against your environment, your parental upbringing, your educational upbringing, your upbringing of all kinds. You don't really have to fight with your cocoon. You can raise your head and just take a little peek out of the cocoon. Then, having peeked out, you become brave enough to climb out of the cocoon. You sit on your cocoon and look around. You stretch your arms and begin to develop your head and shoulders. The environment is called "Boston," or "New York City." It is your world.
Still sitting on the cocoon, you raise yourself up a little further. As you look around, you begin to realize that the insulation of the cocoon is no longer useful. It's just a little cast that's been put on you by your own collective imaginary paranoia and confusion, which didn't want to relate with the world outside.
Then, you extend one leg, rather tentatively, to touch the ground around the cocoon. When you first touch the Earth, you find it's very rough. It's made out of earth, dirt. But soon you discover the intelligence that will allow you to walk on the Earth, and you begin to think the process might be workable. You realize that you inherited this family heirloom, called "Planet Earth," a long time ago.
From the dictionary's point of view, sadness has negative connotations. If you feel sad, you feel unfortunate or bad. Or you are sad because you don't have enough money or you don't have any security. But from the Shambhala point of view, sadness is also inspiring. You feel sad and empty-hearted, but you also feel something positive, because this sadness involves appreciation for others. That empty-heartedness is the principle of the broken-hearted warrior.
Once you develop this quality of sadness, you also develop a quality of dignity or positive arrogance within yourself, which is quite different from the usual negative arrogance. You can manifest yourself with dignity to show the degraded world that trying to avoid death by sleeping in a cocoon is not the way.
The Shambhala tradition is based on developing gentleness and genuineness so that we can help ourselves and develop tenderness in our hearts. We no longer wrap ourselves in the sleeping bag of our cocoon. We feel responsible for ourselves, and we feel good taking responsibility. We also feel grateful that, as human beings, we can actually work for others. It is about time that we did something to help the world. It is the right time, the right moment.
As decent human beings, we face the facts of reality. Whether we are in the middle of a snowstorm or a rainstorm, whether there is family chaos, whatever problems there may be, we are willing to work them out. Looking into those situations is no longer regarded as a hassle, but it is regarded as our duty.
Although helping others has been preached quite a lot, we don't really believe we can do it. The traditional American expression, as I've heard it, is that we don't want to get our hands dirty. That, in a nutshell, is why we want to stay in the cocoon: we don't want to get our hands dirty. But we must do something about this world, so that the world can develop into a nonaggressive society where people can wake themselves up. Helping others is one of the biggest challenges.
The basic point is to become very genuine within yourselves. Please don't hurt others. Treat yourself better and don't punish yourself by sleeping in your cocoon. Finally, please try to work with people and be helpful to them. A fantastically large number of people need help. Please try to help them, for goodness sake, for heaven and earth. Don't just collect Oriental wisdoms one after the other. Don't just sit on an empty meditation cushion, but go out and try to help others, if you can. That is the main point.
We have to do something. We've got to do something. As we read in the newspapers and see on television, the world is deteriorating, one thing after the other, every hour, every minute. Your help doesn't have to be a big deal. To begin with, work with your friends and work with yourself at the same time. It is time that we became responsible for this world. It will pay for itself.
The Discipline of Gentleness
We are worthy to live in this world. The Shambhala journey is a process of learning to appreciate and understand this worthiness. This training is based on the discipline of uplifting and civilizing ourselves, which is partly a reflection of the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism provides an idea of how to handle ourselves: body, mind, speech, and livelihood all together. The Shambhala training is also a response to suffering and pain, the misery, terror, and horror that have developed throughout what is known as the setting-sun world: a world based on the fear of death, fear of oneself, and fear of others - a world that comes with lots of warnings.
We have no idea how to actually live and lead our lives in today's society. How can we be decent human beings, dignified human beings, awake human beings? The Shambhala path involves individual training. It presents the real heart of the matter. By joining the Buddhist-oriented practice of sitting meditation with the appreciation of our lives, there is no discrepancy between dealing with ourselves and dealing with others at all.
The Shambhala training is learning how to be gentle to ourselves and others and learning why that works better. It is educating ourselves to become very decent human beings so that we can work with domestic situations and with our emotional life properly. We can synchronize our mind and body together, and without resentment or aggression, with enormous gentleness, we treat ourselves so well. In that way, we celebrate life properly.
The above material is excerpted from Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala. Copyright 2000. Used by permission of the publisher, Shambhala Publications.