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Shambhala Sun | May 2014


Who Are We, Really?

Although the world gives us plenty of evidence to the contrary, human nature is basically good, says SAKYONG MIPHAM. Believing in humanity’s basic goodness is our hope for the future.

Throughout history, the deepest minds have come to the conclusion that there is something profoundly worthy about being human. In the Shambhala tradition, we call this the sun of basic goodness. The sun is a symbol of life, warmth, and wholeness, like the wisdom that is naturally within the mind. When we practice the view of basic goodness, we enter the heart of being human by connecting to our inherent dignity.

Right now there seems to be a not-so-subtle feeling that humanity is bad. The tragic stories we read in the news are often a sign that people are not connecting with their own and other people’s goodness. The moment we do not respect ourselves or others, we have bought into a system that destabilizes our dignity as individuals and as a society. For what is society but a network of relationships among people?

How we conduct our lives is based on our values and understanding of ourselves. Through the ceremony of daily life humans collectively perform, we contextualize our existence and come up with a sense of self-identity. At the same time, our environment has a tremendous influence on our sense of who we are. Based on this feeling of self-identity, we determine how life will proceed. This is what the Buddha called interdependence.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s most recent book is
The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure.

Excerpted from the May 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

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