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Dec 26
Dharma Teachings
Natural Brilliance

rainbow silkLeading from Within
by Irini Rockwell

We are singing the same song, in different languages. The Awake in the World online conference sponsored by Shambhala Mountain Center reached 80,000 people. Acharya Susan Skjei, talking about leadership, addressed three components: presence, engagement, and leading change. Acharya Fleet Maul, talking about service to others, spoke of three tenants: not knowing, bearing witness, and compassionate action. I echoed these approaches in my talk, Natural Brilliance: Leading from Within.

My book on the Five Wisdoms, Natural Brilliance, has a deep meaning. A departure from the tantric origins of Five Wisdoms, it is in tune with the language of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I was inspired by how Quakers talk about the inner light in the world. When we connect to our natural brilliance, our basic goodness, we shine. When we are receptive to our world in the immediacy of the moment we experience the light in the world. This is nourishing: it opens our heart. It is empowering: it is from where we can lead.

Chogyam Trungpa RinpocheThree primary slogans guide my work in working with others. Oscar Wilde said, “Be who you are; everyone else is taken.” My slogan is “Be the best of who you are.” I came upon this as a reflection of the transformative power of the Five Wisdoms. It is not a big project of striving to change yourself. It has more to do with relaxing, unconditionally accepting and fully embracing who you are. When we relax, we bring about our delicious essence. We are not so self-conscious about ourselves.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “People are our business.” Our world abounds with miscommunication and tension in our dealings with others. Coming to any resolution seems insurmountable. It paralyzes our work and personal relationships. In situations of tension, I have made it a priority to work on the relationship. Making a relationship a priority, over everything else produces ease in communication. Peter Senge said, “People are our best resource.” This became amusingly clear at the Experience Integral sustainability conference in the Netherlands. I looked around at what other people were presenting and realized that was not going to be my focus at all. I realized that my primary calling is to cultivate sustainable people. People are my business.

“What can I do?” Acharya Maull calls it the magic question. We are needed in this world to respond with benevolence rather than react with our fixated ideas. Habitually, we react to situations. We come from our small mind, defending the “I.” It is a survival mentality. When we respond to situations we see things as they are and offer what is needed. We hold a big mind. We can react with small mind or respond with big mind. One makes you a victim, the other a warrior. We can take 400% responsibility for everything we think, feel, say, and do. We can put our fully empowered self to work.

Sakyong Mipham RinpocheThere are two factors illuminating our primary struggle: the outer and inner equation. We take great delight in mastering our external world, having the best technology, the most efficiency, and more possibilities. Anything we want to know is a few clicks away. How seductive is that? Moreover, there is an exponential growth of material goods. We know more, own more, and accomplish more.

To take advantage of every opportunity, we move through our lives with great speed. We are piling meeting on meeting, task on task. External demands are out of proportion to what we can handle. We can’t remember things as they become overwhelming. We can’t be in the present moment, clinigng to what came before, what happens next. We revisit decisions, trying to remember if we made them before. We are confused as to how to prioritize the day, not knowing what to accept and reject. The dis-ease of stress is a daily occurrence.

Contemplative disciplines like mindfulness and yoga help take us out of the speed and materialism of our busy lives, getting us in touch with an inner reservoir of well-being. We discover who we are at a deep level, what makes us come alive, our special brilliance, our unique intelligence. Having an unconditional acceptance and appreciation for ourselves—fully embracing who we are—gives us a power. It is key to our success.

Venerable Chogyam Trungpa RinpocheWith his genius of making esoteric teachings accessible, Trungpa Rinpoche developed a way of working based on the profound principles of the Five Buddha Families of Tibetan tantra. He created the practice of taking postures in a room saturated by color. He said, “We all have our own style and our own particular nature. We can’t avoid it. The enlightened expression of yourself is in accord with your inherent nature.”

The Five Wisdoms, at a subtle level of feeling and experience, reveal our unique nature and tendencies. They provide a vehicle for self-discovery and a language for working with others. In essence they are: spaciousness, clarity, richness, passion, and action. However, there are infinite variations and combinations. We can see a pattern of color in each situation. When we see things from an energetic perspective, there is a predictable energetic dynamic. What’s happening is happening. It’s just energy, sometimes constricted, sometimes flowing.

We have times of elation and times of despair. We flip between extremes of feeling good or bad about ourselves. The power of the five wisdom energies is in working with just this dilemma, pointing to where we shine and where we get stuck. It puts us on the razor’s edge. We can find our wisdom within the darkness of our confusion. We can train ourselves to align with our best, regarding stuck places as opportunities. Discovering the way we perceive and interact with our world yields enormous insight into our patterns of behavior, emotions, and relationships. When we discover in what situations we shine and when we get stuck, we learn tremendous information about ourselves. By knowing ourselves deeply, we understand others and are more skilled in engaging with them. We know where they shine and where they get stuck and can meet them there.

Pema ChodronThis is both subtle and deep work, both predictable and surprising. By paying more attention to ourselves, we discover that we are all multi-dimensional. We inherently have many facets to our personality. With some parts of ourselves we have confidence and to shine. With other parts we feel stuck, perpetually falling on our face. Other parts of ourselves we may habitually hide.

It is important to come into balance with our energetic makeup. When we are daily locked into hours and hours of one type of energy, we become unbalanced. Doing our day with just one focus, one quality of energy, can be exhausting. We can learn to balance our energies throughout our day. This is the daily diet of the Five Wisdoms: 1. rest in the spaciousness of basic being 2. have insightful clear thinking 3. be resourceful and generous 4. engage and speak from our heart 5.accomplish our tasks for the benefit of others. Each of our energies has the ability to serve us.

Our journey of self-discovery can be both exciting and uncomfortable, but it always makes us feel more alive! Knowing where we struggle as well as our unique style of intelligence and potential, we discover our natural brilliance and can lead from within. We can just be who we are. It is key to a life worth living.

Irini Rockwell will be leading a program at Shambhala Mountain Center in January called Natural Brilliance. Click here to find out more.

Irini RockwellIrini Rockwell, MA
, is director and principal trainer at the Five Wisdoms Institute and a senior teacher in the Shambhala community. She has presented trainings internationally for over 30 years working from her books The Five Wisdom Energies: A Buddhist Way of Understanding Personalities, Emotions, and Relationships (in 10 languages) and Natural Brilliance, a Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strengths and Letting Them Shine. She holds a Master’s in Contemplative Psychotherapy and a certificate in Authentic Leadership from Naropa University where she was director of dance and dance therapy. For more on the Five Wisdoms: www.fivewisdomsinstitute.com

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1 response to “ Natural Brilliance ”
  1. Sherab Gyatso
    Dec 29, 2014

    What’s the colorful art?

    Also, Shambhala Times, please get rid of the wholey unnecessary facebook slider thing on the right of the page. It messes up printing pages.

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