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Sunny Side Up
SAKYONG MIPHAM explains how cultivating bravery gives us the confidence to live in the brilliance of the Great Eastern Sun.
is a highlight of the Shambhala teachings that were introduced to the
West by my father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. My last two columns dealt
with the first two forms of bravery—freedom from deception, and the
willingness to leap beyond our habitual patterns. Now I am focusing on
the third form of bravery—vision. To
live life with bravery, we need a game plan that’s not based in shallow
inspiration or lukewarm conviction. It must have genuineness that stems
from deep internal wisdom that is constantly radiating forth.
Shambhala teachings call such vision the Great Eastern Sun. It is the
mental conviction and prowess to engage in life with precision and
purpose. When we remove deception and cultivate the willingness to leap
into our own inherent brilliance, the forthright, clear intention of the
Great Eastern Sun shines through. This form of bravery keeps us always
word “forward” is conventionally understood to mean “onward, so as to
make progress toward a successful conclusion.” In Shambhala, our
conclusion is to practice living life with enlightened attitude and
conduct in every activity. Forward can also mean “toward the future.”
Thus it is linked with the word “continuous,” meaning that when we have
this kind of vision, the continuity of our intention is not severed.
also mean, “at or to a different time, earlier or later.” An
interesting twist in Shambhala logic is that in order to have the Great
Eastern Sun shining in our life—and thus to be always journeying
forward—we must first turn back to our origin: the primeval ground of
basic goodness, the unconditional purity and confidence of all. That
reverse journey happens through the relaxation we cultivate in
meditation. As we continue to practice, awareness of our nature arises.
Intellectually and intuitively, we know we are not wrong or bad; rather,
we are good. Such awareness gives rise to doubtless precision about our
basic goodness, which simultaneously illuminates the basic goodness of
the world, allowing us to perceive the multitude of individual
experiences within our sense fields, bringing incredible precision to
our warrior’s mind.
is the discovery of our basic goodness. “Eastern” is realizing that our
goodness was always there. “Sun” is the illumination that occurs once
that discovery has been made.
illumination of the Great Eastern Sun inherently shows us what is
directly in front, and thus forward. It might feel threatening because
it does not allow the wiggle room to put on the brakes. On any journey
there is the assumption that we should be allowed to avoid danger along
the way—at the minimum, to be a little careful. But if we think there is
a reverse gear in Shambhala vision, we are misunderstanding a basic
reality: life is perpetual motion. We cannot suddenly apply the
slow-motion feature, or push the “save” button and deal with it later.
is always coming at us, or more accurately, we are always heading into
life. Being hesitant—standing still or looking backward instead of
forward—creates an immediate ripple effect. Life buckles behind us and
builds up pressure, blasting us forward. We are then coerced into
dealing with issues at an accelerated rate, beyond what is comfortable
or convenient. Such hesitancy, which is a form of cowardice, stems from
doubt in relation to our basic goodness.