When you think about beginning a new relationship or accepting a new job, moving to a new city or country, it’s natural to have fears and uncertainties. You may worry you are making the ‘wrong’ decision, or that you will somehow fail in this new path. At times in your life, this fear may become so strong that it paralyses you and prevents you from even having a go, giving it a whirl to see what may happen.
If you are mindful about your decisions and choices in life, if you listen to and follow your heart and then simply do your best, there is no such thing as failure. Even if that new relationship doesn’t last and that person doesn’t become your lifelong partner, think of all the lessons you have learnt through the experience. If you try something in business, which doesn’t work, you take that lesson into your future decisions, it is a step along your journey.
I’m not suggesting it won’t be upsetting if you feel things have gone wrong, but you won’t be so attached to the idea that somehow you have failed. Were you nice and generous to that person, did you make that decision at work in all good faith? Then why blame yourself, why blame at all? If you can gradually remove blame from your thoughts, fear begins to subside too and frees you up to act, today.
It is true that the more you succeed, the more your responsibilities tend to increase and the stakes so much higher if things do eventually go wrong. I think this is a part of all the expectations that are loaded on to everyone’s shoulders in the modern world. You are weighed under by such pressure to succeed that you sometimes want to run away from success also! There is the pressure to somehow do better than your parents did before you, better than your neighbours, your school friends. Many wonderful, talented people shy away from their true cause, their work in life, because of these pressures associated with success. They worry that the higher they climb, the harder they will fall.
This is why we so often talk about the middle path in the Buddhist philosophy. When you walk with balance, knowing that you are not too close to the edge but equally you are keen to make your way, then you are not slowed down by these fears and so you will actually get much further. There is no need to rush to success or to fear it, if you take things gently, step lightly and make your decisions with a pure heart. Likewise, never be afraid of failure because within a flash it becomes a very precious lesson, just like every single one of life’s ups and downs.
When somebody asks me to do some kind of teaching or talk, I just do it. So I guess I don’t have that much attachment. I’m relaxed so I just say whatever I want. If some people don’t appreciate it, what to do? Or, if others do appreciate it, then thank you! It doesn’t matter. I just do it and say whatever spontaneously pops up. If I was very serious and rigid about it I wouldn’t be able to do it; I wouldn’t have anything to say. I’d be lost without a list or some kind of chart. It would just become too difficult, both for me to speak and for you to listen.
The bottom line is to relax, to open oneself and be less formal. That way the nonsense will fade away and you will feel what is right. You will just do it! Our strongest tools for understanding and challenging our fears come back to love and compassion. As you develop compassion, there is less room for the ego and so less room for fear. This can take time as often the ego is so strong.
You have to at first accept yourself and then you will begin to have room for others too and send out your love as radiance, perhaps first with your immediate family and then gradually to everybody. Nothing is stronger than love, it is the strongest power in this world and it will keep you fearless—through success and failure.The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas