Last month, Phakchok Rinpoche and more than 70 monks and nuns gathered for a 9-day drubchen (a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat) in Bodh Gaya, India. The following message was sent out in anticipation of the retreat’s final day, which also fell on Guru Rinpoche Day—a monthly holiday that celebrates Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Below, Phakchok Rinpoche encourages us to rejoice in the life that we already have and to learn how to appreciate the work of others, allowing us to circumvent jealousy and competitiveness in our lives.
It is very important to appreciate our life and rejoice in other people’s successes. We need to feel fortunate about what we have—with our companions, family, wealth, and work. Whatever you have, you need a very simple way to have happiness in life, and to feel very meritorious and fortunate. In this way, our mind becomes very positive.
You can be a really serious practitioner, a non-practitioner, or a medium kind of practitioner. Whatever kind of practitioner you are, it is very important to have an attitude that makes you happy and grounded. This attitude comes from seeing your life as meaningful and fortunate, from feeling very meritorious and very content, and appreciating what other people do. And also from feeling happy about what you have and feeling happy about what you are. Because when we don’t do this, our mind compares us to others and becomes competitive. Then we judge and it’s never enough. And our desire is never enough. The combination of being competitive and having a lot of desire brings a lot of unhappiness.
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So you need to know and see. I need to see—we all need to see—that happiness, joy, and bliss come from having an appreciation of other people’s work and at the same time being content with what we have and what we are. And feeling very meritorious for whatever we are is very important.
Whenever the competitive mind and jealousy come up, then you need to do the work. Now, some people will think that this is very positive thinking: “We need to work with competitive companies and competitive people and we need to work harder to improve.” But my point is that our competitive and comparing mind is switched on from when we wake until when we sleep. We are always challenging others, we always want to improve, we always want something more. When is it going to end?
My point is that we don’t know how to make it end. We only know how to go forward and cling more. It’s never enough competing or fighting. Don’t you feel tired?
Related: The Progress Question
You can give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to feel fortunate, feel meritorious, feel very thankful or very content with what you have. And after that, you can rejoice with what other people do, what other people enjoy, when they have success, and when they have a good time. Simply rejoice and feel content, no further than that. This will bring some happiness that you won’t get from spending 8 hours being competitive. Just 5 minutes of feeling fortunate and rejoicing in other people’s actions brings happiness.
So, please decide for yourself what is best.
[This story was first published in 2016]