Work, Money and the Rest of It

Recently, I’ve been studying the book WORK, SEX, MONEY by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. Spirituality, compassion and panoramic awareness with regard to the kitchen sink, the wallet and the bedroom. How does the animal self relate to the spirit? What happens when the angel within us, comes to ground?  How can we hold the highest view and still enjoy a good burger? In short, how do we join heaven and earth?

The key is the heart.

Touching the heart, and unlocking its resources, opens the middle way. Connection to the heart allows the energy of heaven to descend, and the energies of earth to rise. This is why I love Tibetan Buddhism. Its earth magic from the top of the world. Their culture is, by nature, the joining of heaven and earth.

Joining heaven and earth allows us to synchronize with our lives and learn to work, play, procreate and administer resources with great insight.

The heart is key to the actual experience of life, rather than our imagined experience. Imagined experience is conceptual imputation by the mind to protect us from the pain raw of experience. It is a way of protecting ourselves from the truths of life. We develop “rational lies” that allow us to keep the heart protected behind conceptual frames, its edges dulled, its power muted.  Unfortunately,we get cut off from resources, such as intuition and insight. In order to access our full inner power, we learn to develop the stability of mind that allows us to remain, and the willingness to remain in the fire and not take the easy road out.

But, again and again we do exactly that: choose the easy road out, whereby we abdicate responsibility for our life. We get lost in cycles of dreaming and end up throwing ourselves away.

The great lie of ego is the belief that we can find freedom by escaping our pain. This is a great lie. The perfect lie. It is such an extraordinary lie that we accept it without question, devoid of evidence.  WE BELIEVE. We barter true experience for the temporary rush of make believe. In fact, the grand exit we’ve taken, is an easy road to imprisonment.

Sadly, there is no freedom in running away from experience, aside from the blind rush of craving.  Hypnotized by grasping we become fooled again by the usual lures. Once we bite the hook, off we go blinded by greed, moving too quickly to gain any sustenance. So, we never have enough and need more, and more, again and again. In this way, we become slaves to our own need, worshiping money, sex or status in order to feel worthy enough to justify our place on the earth. We become slaves to the very things that would serve us.  Instead of money working for us, we are working for it. Instead of our job supporting us, we are giving up to it. Instead of sex empowering our spirit, it becomes increasingly more complicated and less satisfying. We lose ourselves in everything, and wake up each day in shackles of tension.

Freedom, indeed.

But this is a lie. The truth is we are worthy. We were born worthy.  We are fundamentally good and deserving of our place and time in this life.  We were born perfect before we became indentured servants to the bi-polar wheel of grab, gulp, purge and crash, constantly reaching for the stick, only to find the stick unsatisfactory. We do this again and again, because, for a moment, again and again, we believe we are free.

But, the truth is, we are here now, bound to the earth. The Earth, our mother, with all her limitations, gravity and demands. The earth that gave us birth, also reminds us of our mortality, as it calls us back home again and again.  It might feel like a trap to the manic mind,  but that earth is where we belong, and every time we  settle, we begin to flower, opening up to heaven.

So, how do you get off the wheel of fortune and actually build a world of consequence? The best tool I know is < cue eye roll > meditation.

Okay,  meditation is a fairly unsexy choice, at least to the part of us that believes we are so bereft, we need something big and sexy, outside of ourselves to save us.  Something to take us away from the mundane drone of existence. Something to make us happy. How can anything make us happy? Or, sad? Or angry? We choose all of those for ourselves.

So meditation is perfect because its unsatisfactory. Its unsatisfactory to the unquenchable thirst of need, to the never-filled space of longing and the ever critical eye of ego. Unsatisfactory and, as such, the perfect tool to loosen chains of expectation. Unsatisfactory because it will not bring the happiness. But, if we’re going to spin around on the wheel forever just to find unhappiness at the end, why not cut to the chase and begin where we are?

Be here and unhappy now!

Just sit and breathe and – when you can – remember that’s all that’s happening. That’s all there is in this moment. You are alive and breathing and here, now. That’s all.  All we need to do is sit up and settle down into our actual experience, clear away the clouds and find our way to a lasting sense of joy and liberation.

Joy is different from happiness because it is not devoid of sadness, or actual experience. Liberation differs from the myth of freedom, because it is not an escape from the responsibility of life. It is the synchronized body and mind movement of that life.

When we squeeze the heart, trying to protect it from emotional Pterodactyls, we separate ourselves from the body, and hence, the earth.  In way, we lose our flow and disconnect from our experience and lose the power of heaven and the security of earth. When we sit on the earth and open our heart we feel the secrets of the body and the insight of the mind. Then we can relax and allow an interplay with the universe, as though it was our dancing partner. Its easy. If we want to dance, all we need to do is sit.

On the earth.

We join heaven and earth when we sit on the ground and touch the heart. In this way, we enter a creative flow synchronized in spacetime. We relax. And with relaxation comes confidence. We can allow our money to work for us, allow work to build our spirit, and the rest? Well, when we enter a creative flow with the universe, the rest happens naturally.

Though the key is (still) the heart.

When we are grounded in the earth, and awake to heaven, the heart has enough space for us to feel our feelings for ourselves and not get lost. It has enough real estate to allow us to live our own lives for ourselves, and be ourselves, as we are.  When we connect to the heart, we connect to the body. How we feel. We can scan through the body for clues to our experience. Are we tense, tired, excited? In this way, it gives us cues as to what we need, or what’s actually happening. When we find the space within ourselves to feel our personal joy, then we have freedom. If we can join that to heaven and earth, we have liberation.

Its when we are grounded that we touch the sky. In this way, the temporal is tinged with wonder, and the spiritual is made real. So, instead of chasing dragons, we might actually fly them.

Joseph Mauricio, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Tradition, is a student of Meditation Master Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He is a writer, lecturer and, as founder of LIFEWORK Personal Coaching Services, a meditation, performance, public speaking and personal actualization coach.