Excellence Reporter: Segyu Rinpoche, what is the meaning of life?
Segyu Rinpoche: Ah, the ultimate question, seemingly for as long as humans have inhabited this earth. After more than fifty years of studying a tradition with over 2,500 years of insight, I would have to say the meaning of life is to explore and cultivate one’s true potential—to cultivate this potential for becoming a truly positive force for both oneself and society as a whole.
The world has never been more interconnected. Just as joy has the potential to spread, so does suffering. Think about a time when you were having a bad day. Might you have snapped at a coworker, or possibly your closest loved ones? Now, in such an interconnected world, one’s suffering can affect hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people, if one has the followers. Symmetrically, now, the sufferings of any of millions of people can affect you. Therefore, we all should realize our potential to affect the fostering of happiness, peace, and equality for all.
I find it quite interesting to be living at such a unique turning point in human history. The reduction in the cost of living (housing and food production), ubiquitous access to information (internet/online education), and advancements in technology (renewable energy, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence) all point toward a future in which humans could have a more automated and efficient economy, which should lead to an easier life, free of the stressors of finding work, maintaining a home, and putting food on the table.
Paradoxically, today we have historical levels of anxiety, depression, and fear. It appears that while science, technology, and prosperity are advancing at exponential rates, the degree to which humans have mental clarity, serenity, and control over impulsive emotions is regressing at equally exponential rates. Simply put, we have been giving too much importance to money, power, vanity, social status, and the number of likes our photos get, and focusing too little on the essence of what it is to be human.
To protect the good of the world and guide the fantastic advances in science and technology, it’s essential that we care for and cultivate our individual potential and mental well-being.
In hopes that I can help your readers start realizing their potential right now, I’d like to share the easiest way to start. With a quick five-minute meditation, every day, one could completely change their life, and as a result, the lives of many, many others. The key is consistency.
I recommend that newcomers to meditation start with a simple concentration meditation. Through concentration meditation, one can reap the benefits of calming reactive and habitual thought patterns, developing more focus, becoming more adaptable, and ultimately creating the inner space for discernment and wisdom.
Begin the meditation by closing your eyes and taking a couple relaxing breaths. Move your attention to the natural rise and fall of your diaphragm as you breathe in and breathe out. This rise and fall is the object of your concentration. Try to stay focused on that sensation, and when you notice your mind has wandered off—to thoughts, emotions, or other physical sensations—gently bring your mind back to the breath. It is that simple. For the duration of the session, try to focus on the breath, and as your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.
The repetition of bringing your wandering mind back is just like the exercise one does to become stronger; it’s the exercise that will unlock your focus, adaptability, and wisdom. And don’t worry if in the beginning your mind constantly wanders. With time and effort, you will improve your ability to concentrate for longer periods and find greater inner calm.
It’s through meditation and introspection that one learns to become more patient and less impulsive. Meditation cultivates the awareness of insecurities, worries, passions—inner patterns that create our suffering—and unlocks our wonderful potential for kindness, generosity, compassion, and insightfulness. By overcoming what blocks us, and refining our inner potential, we can all become a force of good for ourselves and the world.
I invite you to learn more by joining me at Juniper Foundation, where I’ve laid out the blueprint for a modern spiritual tradition that will guide us toward finding our inner potential through the art of meditation.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rinpoche earned a degree in electrical engineering at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro while also becoming a master in Brazil’s rich healing tradition. In 1983, Rinpoche moved to the United States and shortly thereafter was recognized by the 98th Gaden Tri Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism’s Gelug School, as a master and holder of a renowned Tibetan Buddhist lineage known as the Segyu.
Rinpoche’s primary teacher was Kyabje Lati Rinpoche (1922-2010), one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most acclaimed masters of recent times and the former abbot of Tibet’s famous Gaden Shartse Monastery. Rinpoche spent over thirty years studying under Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, and other Tibetan masters, and collecting the ancient wisdom, methods and healing practices of Tibetan Buddhist thought. In tandem with this training, Rinpoche extensively studied Tibetan Medicine, in 2013 completing a three year traditional Tibetan Medicine course with the Tibetan Medicine Education Center, Milan, Italy.
Having taught meditation to many students throughout the world, since 2003 Rinpoche has dedicated his efforts to establishing Juniper as an authentic meditation tradition for contemporary culture, and teaching Juniper’s founders and others to hold and perpetuate this tradition. Rinpoche also directs the Juniper Integrative Care Clinic and co-develops Juniper’s content and practices.
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