How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.
The Buddha taught that we should practice helping others while cultivating deep concentration, compassion, and wisdom. He further taught that enlightenment is not a mystical, transcendent experience but an ongoing process, calling for intimacy and transparency; and that suffering diminishes when confusion and fear change into openness and strength.
One idea that really hampers us is to believe that people get ‘enlightened,’ and then they’re that was forever and ever. We my have our moments, and if we get sick and have lots of things happening, we may fall back. But a person who practices consistently over years and years is more that way, more of the time, all of the time. And that’s enough. There is no such thing as getting it.
Managers are not perfect, but who ever said that management was about perfection? Management is about a combination of following inexplicable hunches, getting lucky, working hard, and taking risks. Often managers fall on their faces. That’s part of the job. Managers may run all the data through the latest regression analysis software and still screw up the decision. For every great decision, there are hundreds that don’t quite work out. There is a wafer-thin line between success and failure. The division is often barely discernible. Success comes out of the closet and can also emerge from apparent failure.
- Single Founder
- Bad Location
- Marginal Niche
- Derivative Idea
- Hiring Bad Programmers
- Choosing the Wrong Platform
- Slowness in Launching
- Launching Too Early
- Having No Specific User in Mind
- Raising Too Little Money
- Spending Too Much
- Raising Too Much Money
- Poor Investor Management
- Sacrificing Users to (Supposed) Profit
- Not Wanting to Get Your Hands Dirty
- Fights Between Founders
- A Half-Hearted Effort
Daniel Ladinsky, the renowned American poet and interpreter of mystical poetry, asserts that the 14th-Century Persian poet Hafiz’s work is not just very beautiful—it is useful too. It can teach us how to get the most out of our lives:
Two stories of Hafiz come to mind that my own teacher told me, and here again, these show the great range of Hafiz, and to me his rather incredible ability to never bore. To constantly engage and give. And so creatively lead.
Once a young woman came to Hafiz and said, “What is the sign of someone knowing God?”
And Hafiz became very quiet, and stood in silence for nearly a minute… lovingly looking deep into the young woman’s eye, then softly spoke,
“My dear, they have dropped the knife. The person who knows God has dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self—and others.”
Hafiz was one of the finest lyricists in the Persian language. His poetry, in rhyming couplets, handles sensual pleasures. Hafiz was a pious Sufi and dervish, and much of his poetry is religious in subject matter.
While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers. Anyone caught worshipping Poseidon, even at sea, will be thought insane.
We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening in not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.
From Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance by the English philosopher Simon Critchley:
Philosophy does not begin in an experience of wonder, as ancient tradition contends, but rather, I think, with the indeterminate but palpable sense that something desired has not been fulfilled, that a fantastic effort has failed. Philosophy begins in disappointment. Although there might well be precursors, I see this as a specifically modern conception.
Existence and non-existence, pleasure and pain all have Time for their root. Time createth all things and Time destroyeth all creatures. It is Time that burneth creatures and it is Time that extinguisheth the fire. All states, the good and the evil, in the three worlds, are caused by Time. Time cutteth short all things and createth them anew. Time alone is awake when all things are asleep: indeed, Time is incapable of being overcome. Time passeth over all things without being retarded. Knowing, as thou dost, that all things past and future and all that exist at the present moment, are the offspring of Time, it behoveth thee not to throw away thy reason.