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How Bravery Can Change the World

So much is happening in our world and in our personal lives that causes us confusion and pain. The devastation and fear created by wars and terrorism is almost unbearable. At the same time, we are weighed down by growing depression and cynicism. Our personal experience is filled with doubt and an underlying sense of anxiety simply through our day-to-day activities.

As I state in my new book, The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure, we humans have come to a crossroads in our history: We can either destroy the world or create a good future. It is time to look at our fundamental issues—who we are and what we are doing—so that we can begin to live with certainty and trust in basic goodness—the nature of ourselves and our fellow humans. Here I define goodness as “without fault; free of mistake.” It is the notion of completeness, and it is available in every aspect of life.

We all need to feel purpose and strength in our lives. We need to feel connected in terms of why we are here. Then, in the face of very challenging situations, we can arise with bravery and confidence. At that point, we can finally appreciate and enjoy our lives by creating a peaceful society that recognizes human worth and dignity. Life is not just something we need to get through; it is a journey of uncovering our own goodness and the goodness of our world.

How could we do this? Through bravery.

Bravery is being willing to embody the open and radiant nature of humanity, both personally and socially. My father, Chögyam Trungpa, called it “living in the challenge.” Humanity at its core is complete, good and worthy. If we can feel confident in our inherent goodness, this energy will illuminate ourselves and society. This is how we will change the world.

Through discovering this fundamental truth about ourselves, we can shed our fear, doubt and inadequacy. When we learn to feel our own goodness, we will always have an answer to the questions: Am I okay? Am I worth it?

The truth is, we are worth it. We are all worthy enough to be on this earth as human beings, working together to create a good society. We can be brave in the midst of chaos by paying attention. Many people are already cultivating this habit through meditation. Mindfulness offers us the ability to appreciate life, moment to moment. This allows us to see the connection between humans and the environment, and therefore nature itself.

With such confidence, we see ourselves participating in something much bigger than the little details of our day-to-day. We can bravely take a step back and regard the totality of the situation. We begin to see how we fit into the vast network of richness that is our global community. Though we come from diverse cultures, somehow our hearts are all very similar.

Humanity’s brilliance is defined by our ability to be successful against seemingly insurmountable odds. It is how our species has survived on this earth for thousands of years. At this crossroads, it is up to us: Will we extinguish this brilliance, or nourish it?

If we are to move forward together on this earth—if we are to create a good future for our children and grandchildren—then we must not give up on our own sanity. We must be versatile, imaginative—even clever—relating with dignity and purpose to the earth, not cowering from our responsibility to protect it. Instead, we use the challenge of daily life to sharpen our mind and open our heart. Nourishing our bravery, we can help shift society toward goodness.

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Books by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
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