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March 4, 2009

Chogyam Trungpa, Buddhist guru, on the role of sadness in everyday life.

Growing up in an American Buddhist family, one of the most treasured gifts I remember inheriting was an understanding—so rare and yet so essential when you’re young—that sadness, loneliness, and even depression aren’t to be fought off.

They’re to be worked with, and welcomed more or less.


Via my parent’s Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa. Excerpts via Shambhala Publications, in Boston, which I used to work at while in college:

According to the Shambhala principles you should feel [sadness and joy, simultaneously] with everything you do.

Whether you have a good time or a bad time, you should feel sad and delighted at once. That is how to be a real decent human being, and it is also connected with the Buddhist principle of longing, or devotion.

Longing is the hunger for sacredness. When you begin to feel you’re too much in the secular world, you long for the 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 only mechanism that brings the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.

The Great Eastern Sun has three qualities. From the experience of the simultaneity of sadness and joy, we radiate peaceful confidence, which is the first quality of the Great Eastern Sun. Second is illuminating the way of discipline, which is realising what to accept and what to reject. That aspect of the Great Eastern Sun is like turning on the light. If you are standing in the middle of a dark room and you have no idea what’s around you, when you switch on the light, you will know what to accept and reject. The third quality is becoming the eternal ruler of the three worlds, or conquering the three worlds. Having developed a sad and joyous situation, seeing what to accept and what to reject, therefore, you feel a sense of joy and achievement. This is conquering the threefold world, which, roughly speaking, corresponds to the heaven, earth, and man, or human, principles.

Conquering here is very personal. It is related with one’s attitude towards oneself and one’s world when one begins to see the Great Eastern Sun. You could say that, when you switch on the light, it conquers your room because there’s no darkness left. Conquering here is not the concept of a battle. It’s just switching on the light. That is the synopsis, so to speak, of the qualities of the Great Eastern Sun.

How to cultivate the Great Eastern Sun, as we discussed altogether, comes from joy and sadness put together, which might be something like sweet and sour pork.



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