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Feb 20
Dharma Teachings
On Warriorship and the Economy, by Eric Spiegel

Over recent months the world has been in economic turmoil. There continues to be a sense of not knowing what will calm things or how to make them “right” again. It is likely that a fair number of people in the sangha have lost their jobs and almost everyone is uncertain about their future, both due to the employment picture, rising prices, and the decreasing values of our homes and savings.

Whenever things change, it is helpful to engage the teachings on death, which offer a core contemplation of change and impermanence in our tradition. Death means that the relative reference points that you are familiar with have changed. It could mean that “you”, your body and the entity you think of as “myself” is no longer alive. Or it could mean that your marriage, your job, or the economic system — which assigns generally agreed upon values on “things” — is no longer functioning as it once did.

Obviously, the most logical thing to do in the case of any of these “deaths” is to get very nervous, maybe even panic… or at the least, dread.

The dharma instruction is that when confronted with the dissolution of our relative reference points, the best thing to do is remain open – abide in the present rather than freaking out about the past being gone or the unknowable future. If our body dies and we cling to the life we identify with, the result of that clinging will be fear. If our financial system collapses and we cling to the forms we knew and the job we believed was secure, the result will once again be fear itself. The practice of shamatha is the main way that we train in the stability of the present moment, but having a view that looks out from that stability is also important.

If we as Shambhalians and dharma practitioners can remain in stable and open, unfearful mind, then whatever possibilities are yet to arise from the dissolving of decaying structures will be available to us. This doesn’t mean you’ll get a great job. It means you can rest and then, perhaps, see where the auspiciousness abides. From that resting you can generate an attitude of bodhicitta rather than fear and grasping. Through holding your awareness in this simple way you manifest as a Warrior and Leader.

Currently the pundits are fond of saying that there is no “confidence” in the system. The confidence they are talking about is the confidence that if you pay $100 for something today, someone else will think it’s worth at least that much a few weeks later. This is not the same confidence that we talk about in the Shambhala dharma.

Our confidence is Ziji – radiance that comes from being both grounded to earth and reality and also open to heaven and possibility. This is not tied to the relative reference of outer things but the inner reference point of our own wisdom: a mind which knows itself, compassion and prajna.

Regardless of political perspective, people everywhere have been awestruck by the apparent stability of President Obama – he doesn’t seem to be confused by circumstances. He remains grounded and in touch with his vision, despite the powerful energies of world events, including his own election, that swirl around him. This is a wonderful Warrior image – that we can stay grounded in the movement of societal change. And if we can do this, individually and as a community, we could be leaders of our communities because in times of crisis, people need guides who know themselves well and have a view not based on fear and self-protection.

One thing which seems hard to imagine but is also true is that, just as economic expansion was subject to impermanence, so too is economic collapse. How we each practice and manifest in the midst of difficulty will be the seed of how we are able to flourish when things begin to expand again.

Acharya Drukda Thaye
Eric Spiegel

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