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Let It Shine!
When we have confidence in our inherent basic goodness, says SAKYONG MIPHAM, we sparkle with brightness and vitality.
Just as there are precious jewels in the world, there are psychological jewels that we possess. One of these is the ability to relax our habitual patterns and feel our inherent goodness, to possess the primordial. When we have the bravery to feel that, a sense of splendidness arises naturally in that moment—which can be any moment of the day.
This sense of splendidness is the fifth and final form of bravery in the teachings of Shambhala warriorship. The first four are being free of deception through awareness of habitual patterns and afflictive emotions; leaping into the freedom of the present moment; gaining the vision of the Great Eastern Sun, which reveals the sacredness of ourselves and our world; and synchronizing body and mind, which gives rise to a sense of dignity because we are grounded and in harmony with the world around us.
The sense of splendidness arises from feeling our wealth. We have confidence in our inherent goodness—the beating heart of each individual and all humanity. This confidence is conveyed by the Tibetan word ziji, which conventionally refers to a person’s beauty and healthiness—in general, an aura of brightness and vitality. The first aspect of the word—zi, means splendor, the ability to shine. Splendidness is like a halo, which is traditionally depicted as a bright light surrounding saintly individuals, reflecting their embodiment of goodness. When we are brave enough to have confidence in basic goodness, we are on the journey back to our natural and inherent glory.
We might think of bravery as perseverance in the face of difficulty, an effort fueled with sheer willpower, where we hunker down and put our shoulders to the grindstone, determined to reach our goal. While such perseverance is admirable and often necessary, essentially it is the bravery of the “have-nots.” Splendidness, on the other hand, is the fully mature bravery of the “haves.”
The energy of splendidness comes from being fully present in whatever we do. My father, Chögyam Trungpa, who introduced the Shambhala teachings to the West, put it this way: “You are not hiding anywhere.” Hiding means our splendidness is obscured by embedded habitual patterns. One characteristic of hiding is that we are always self-observing. Self-observing comes from not trusting our inherent goodness, and therefore keeping the reins tight on our mind. It is different from awareness or introspection because in observing ourselves this way, we are not really sensing or feeling the moment. We lack the lucidity to simply be splendid, so we tighten up and hide. We have half-thoughts and half-emotions. When we do experience something wholly and completely, it is disconcerting and disorienting.
Hiding creates private havens for many of our personal habits. We hunch when we drink our coffee. We are unable to look our spouse in the eye. We fidget as we meditate. We pursue entertainment constantly. Socially we are threatened, thus we lack vision. We fear change. We actually feel comforted by the lack of synchronicity between our mind and body. Because we are hiding, and therefore sheepish in our mental and physical behavior, it is hard to embody a sense of splendidness. This lack of splendidness becomes a magnet for negativity, attracting like-minded individuals. “Not hiding anywhere” means we have reduced and lightened our embedded habits and tendencies, which allows us to shine.
As spiritual practitioners in this materialistic and prideful age, we might associate shininess with worldliness, and feel that we should abandon anything shiny. However, the Shambhala teachings present goodness as our base, and splendidness as the natural state of being. It is neither spiritual nor worldly, but inherent— there to be uncovered. Although it may be easiest to access in the stillness of meditation, the glow of splendidness is present always and everywhere. Connecting to our splendidness is connecting to the ground of goodness. We are not abandoning the world; rather, with splendidness we use the full spectrum of our mind and our emotions. Nor does splendidness mean that every day is sunny. It means that goodness is our ground—as we cry and as we laugh. That is a basic sense of splendidness.