Sakyong Mipham: King of His World

The Tibetan lama--also a golfer, marathon runner, and sharp dresser--on why worldly success is compatible with spiritual growth.

Continued from page 1

Doesn't calling ourselves kings and queens add fuel to the egoistic fire?

It could. When I talk about kings and queens, I am redefining the terms. What do genuine kings and queens do? They bring peace and prosperity to their subjects. The word "king" has a negative connotation: Someone who has too much power. Of course that happens, but power isn't going away. The question is how one uses it. Once someone uses power to benefit others, you have a king. There is a danger of people becoming too self-obsessed, but that happens on a conventional spiritual journey too.

So each of us needs to establish a seat of sanity in our minds and engage the world from that place. That's a tall order. I have been meditating a few years and I sometimes doubt my ability to bring the wisdom I've gained on a meditation cushion into the rest of my life.

You don't have a choice. You have to engage. There's not much of an alternative. It is more and more difficult to remove yourself from the world. We need to acknowledge our engagement, instead of being scared of it, and look for ways to utilize our participation in the world to do some good. It is possible to practice meditation and look at our own minds, to develop these qualities and realize, `Oh this is actually a journey.'

We've limited these teachings to the arena of meditation retreats, but it isn't like that in Tibet. You saw on our trip. Everybody practices in Tibet. Some people practice as monks, others practice as businessmen. Worldly success isn't opposed to Buddhism. People go to lamas so they can be successful.

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When we begin to have peace and wisdom in our minds, the world is a different place. It's a lot less aggressive. People have run countries based upon this approach as well as navigating their daily lives.

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