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The word “sense” indicates contact that has transmuted into feeling. We have learned to bring ourselves into the moment by opening our sense perceptions. Our sense perceptions nonconceptually touch our basic goodness. Touching the primordial ember of basic goodness, we feel. When we truly feel, each moment feels fresh: we have touched the beginning of time. We have heard about basic goodness, and after this visceral encounter, we feel that it is true.
Such bravery is simply the beauty of recognizing that we are alive. It is the constant interplay between perception and perceiver being in utter harmony and synchronicity. There is gaiety and inquisitiveness. Because we are not hiding, we are able to relate to any aspect of our lives. As written in the Tao Te Ching, “In family life, be completely present.”
The quality of splendidness is perfectly embodied in the mythical snow lion of Tibet, which moves with grace and power, exuding bravery. The light sparkling off its luscious coat captures the delight in its eyes. As it prances, dances, and preens, it is frolicking in its own splendidness. Just as this allows the snow lion to leap suddenly and splendidly from one mountain to another, a sense of splendidness allows us to move from one situation to another, not losing any dignity as we traverse life’s landscape, always touching the heart of now. This snow lion level of splendidness brings good fortune and success.
Feeling such splendidness is synonymous with feeling our goodness. We are not getting close to goodness; rather, that splendidness is the visceral sense of goodness itself. We encapsulate it by leading a life that is brilliant, manifesting strong windhorse—lifeforce energy—in all that we do. Splendidness shows that we have learned to join the inherent unity of our body and mind with our surroundings. We are successful, and we shine. Because we shine, we stand out, becoming beacons for others and for the world.
Splendidness is a physical expression as well as a psychological one—the result of bravery in relationship to our physical being. Meditating with our whole body increases our realization. Eating in a balanced way brings energy. Moving energizes us. As soon as we are at all disenfranchised from our physical well-being, our splendidness diminishes. Through bravery, we are fully activating our vitality. We are appreciating the preciousness of what we have obtained. Therefore we wholeheartedly embody every aspect of our physical domain.
All the great teachers I have known embody splendidness: they understand the inseparability of the mind and body. This union of psychological and physical splendidness is connected with the notion of richness. That splendidness is therefore brilliant because our minds and bodies are the jewel from which bravery radiates. Having felt, touched, and sensed our own richness, we realize that it is a vast treasure trove, unending and self-perpetuating.
Thus bravery comes from discovering our inexhaustible wealth. It allows us to be splendid to others—in contrast to what the British call “splendid isolation,” where we remain on our island, constantly separated from others. Because such a state is exhaustible, it is not truly splendid. Splendidness is to be shared with others. When we smile with bravery, we have plenty to go around. Thus, our manifestation is splendidness. We exude unyielding confidence in basic goodness. Because we are brave, we cannot deceive ourselves.
The feeling of splendidness is a direct experience that transcends interpretation altogether. According to my father, it is “the essence of strength and bravery.” Initially, we might have thought that bravery was aggression or bravado. But rather splendidly, it turns out, the essence of strength and bravery is splendidness itself. The nature of true bravery is to feel the impressiveness of our own being.
Sakyong Mipham is the spiritual leader of Shambhala, an international network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind Into an Ally and Ruling Your World.