spurn dejection at every turn

spurn dejection at every turn

Apprentice I had been expecting a telephone call this week—a call which had not arrived—until I suddenly realised that they had almost certainly sent their response by mail. As I waited for the mailman to deliver the letter, I knew what would await me. I found myself imagining its content. I found the pending outcome to be of the utmost importance: I found myself utterly poised on the horns of the eight worldly concerns.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche Ah yes, jig-a-jig with the Jigtèn chögyèd: hope and fear, praise and blame, gain and loss, meeting and parting – fascistic little sadists aren’t they?

Apprentice I felt this so sharply that I found myself physically alternating utterly between the sensation of elation I knew I would experience if I received a ‘yes’ – and the feeling of dejection I knew I would experience if I received a ‘no’. Without thought, I found myself projecting these sensations into the future – and I have played this scenario through in life so many times that I could realistically feel exactly what each would be like. Then, I remembered your admonishment to ‘spurn dejection at every turn’. Suddenly I realised how utterly silly this game was that I was about to play – either way. I was exactly in the position of Heaven and Hell you recently described so poignantly, and so ‘cold comfort’ was eliminated as an option.

Lamas Thank you very much indeed.

Apprentice I could not simply try to blank myself out into a state which would avoid either response. What happened instead is that I was overcome by the purity of my happiness when I got the ‘yes’. I realised that the wave of energy I felt at this circumstance had no downside, other than the exaggeration into elation, and that this expression of basic goodness was more powerful than the circumstantial outcome.

Khandro Déchen This has been your best retreat experience to date. It has not only been a retreat – but it has been the retreat of which you have made the best use. It would seem that this sets the style of your retreat for the foreseeable future.

Apprentice I realized that, as a tantrika, my only choice was to enter—on the spot—into the hopeless, fearless position of celebration. It was in that state that I encountered the letter. It occurred to me that to celebrate in victory or sulk in defeat is not the demeanour of a warrior at all.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche Entirely correct. This is especially true of sulking – in fact the trinity of ‘sulkiness, sullenness, and surliness’ are far more problematic than the jigtèn chögyèd.

Apprentice Rather, the real warrior rides away from every battle—regardless of outcome—with the same poignant spirit of cheerful sorrow.

Lamas Yes – even so.

Apprentice I see in this moment how strongly dependent on success and failure I have been, and how the attendant hope and fear have provided the ground on which I have battled myself endlessly.

Khandro Déchen Absolutely fabulous – and all this from everyday life. We will have to set you other impossible tasks.

Apprentice It would be a statement of bravado that I have somehow conquered this.

Khandro Déchen This is crucial.

Apprentice Simply by seeing it however—and remaining uplifted in the face of what would normally be defeat—seems a victory which cannot be taken away.

Khandro Déchen Exactly – unless you build a castle of self-congratulation upon it.

Apprentice I feel, for the first time, as though I have connected directly with the teachings which relate to the unconditional positive energy of basic goodness.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche Quite so. In terms of Dzogchen it is far better to integrate with life than to immure yourself in the fluff-infested navel of fantasy.

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