Sunday, October 12, 2014

Perseverance, the Antidote to Failure, by Shang Rinpoche

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche
Shang Rinpoche
The message that many achieved Buddhist practitioners, successful businesspeople, and illustrious historic figures send to the world is not quite the same as that of a normal person. A normal person worries about being unable to face their failure head-on, and cannot bear the stain which the experience of failure has left on their life. Some even lock themselves up and live an isolated life all because of a temporary setback, when in fact those very failures and the lessons learned from setbacks are the keys to liberation and wisdom. Many people express the desire to meet with a spiritual mentor but fail to recognize that the obstacles and predicaments in their life are indeed the strict teacher for which they search. These difficulties, contradictions and conflicts are the scriptures which we should recite over and over until we become proficient. When the day comes in which you are able to view any difficult situation as if it is the smoothest path to success, you will then be well-prepared for some truly remarkable accomplishments. The message that scores of remarkable individuals want to send in their biographies is this — you have to relentlessly rise up to challenges and, amidst the adversity, build a ladder that will eventually lead you to success. There is a password that all these individuals at the top of their game share: that is, all the obstacles and difficulties are there precisely to be overcome by those who possess confidence and perseverance. In the vocabulary of an accomplished person, the words hesitation, contradiction, wavering and depression do not exist.

The common failing of people today is that they collapse after even one tiny setback, whether it be temporary unemployment, breaking up with a loved one or financial crisis. From that point on, they run for the hills at the slightest scent of failure or the faintest trace of setback. When you encounter what you deem as failure, first you need to ask and find the answer to the following questions on your own — what kind of attitude should you have in the face of failure? Is it really something you must avoid? Are you really that scared to face it? Next, try to have a conversation with yourself and evaluate whether it's really worth giving up and raising the white flag to compromise with the prospect of failure, or whether you can try something different this time, and see the outcome of your perseverance. According to my experience, nothing is more important than perseverance. When I encounter an army of obstacles, I usually remind myself that I am close to reaping the rewards of my breakthroughs and success. If I only persist in fighting to the last without compromise, ten times out of ten, the final victory in mine. You can always gain what you seek if you persist in believing in yourself and never stopping. The moment you surrender, failure will take control of your life.

Beethoven spent the majority of his life in poverty and solitude. When he finally reached the peak of his career, he suddenly became deaf. Yet with unflinching courage, he proceeded to create over three hundred pieces of music unequaled by his contemporaries. What made it possible for him to achieve this was nothing but his sheer willpower and unswerving determination. With a drunkard for a father, paranoia and insecurity were never far from Beethoven. His timid mother was unable to guide him properly, and so he found his only solace in music. The most enjoyable moments of his life were the times when his hands could trace the contours of the melody ringing out from cold piano keys. When inspiration arose, Beethoven would play on and on, play after blisters formed on his fingers, play when the blisters broke and he had to soak his hands in cold water to ease the pain rather than stop, play while his assistant cleaned up the stains left by the water on the floor, play until the music in his head was arranged into a work of music complete to his satisfaction. Even a genius had to put in so much time and effort to make himself shine and their name endure throughout the ages. So the only way to defeat failure is to never give in to setbacks, persisting to the very end, for it is then that you will certainly see the victory banner erected on the mountain summit.

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche Blog Image
Stupa built by Shang Rinpoche in Tibet
Lately, a lot of people have come to see me with problems relating to their work, love life, and finances. Some got stuck at a stage where they felt dispirited. This is an excerpt of the advice that I, Shang Longrik Gyatso, gave to them based on my personal experiences.

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