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Daily Connect: Cheering Up And Asking the Right Question

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After the Earth Day Party this weekend, IDP co-hosted the great Vajrayana teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at the Tibet House in New York City.

Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Rebel Buddha and one of my personal favorite teachers, spoke at length about the need to engage in quite a lot of questions along the path of awakening, and be  wary of those who have all the answers. As he pointed out, the sutras, or early Buddhist discourses, almost always begin with a question. In this way, the path of learning is more about finding the right question, rather than finding someone who knows the definitive answer. The gem quote from the retreat, for me, was this:

"Waiting for answers before we ask the right question is like wanting to win the lotto without buying a ticket." -Ponlop Rinpoche

He also spoke a lot about interdependence, and made the great point that often, the more defiantly independent we try to be, ironically, the more dependent on others we become without even knowing it.

O another note the midst of a stretch of hard work and feeling the truth of solitude amongst crowds of people, I've ironically been feeling really optimistic lately. So i've been also thinking about cheering up as a practice, rather than an outcome.

Cheering up is a strange thing, and hard to do. We usually think we'll cheer up once things get better for ourselves or better in the world. But that's backwards. What really works is cheering up FIRST, before there's a clear reason to. Then things start to feel more fluid, you can deal with what comes and help things get better in the world. Cheering up is how things get better. And if you can cheer up for no reason on a Monday, you're going probably to have a whole week that benefits others.

Have a great Monday!

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looking at Ponlop's face makes me happy :)

(even in the midst of a tough week)

This was a relly great post to see Monday morning, and an excellent reminder...thank you!

reasons to be cheerful


Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good Golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley, add nanny goats

Eighteen-wheeler Scammels, Domineker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You're welcome, we can spare it, yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on forty, no electric shocks

The juice of the carrot, the smile of a parrot
A little drop of claret - anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, the days when I ain't spotty,
Sitting on the potty, curing smallpox

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful - one, two, three

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)

Health service glasses, gigolos and brasses
Round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to Paris, lighting up the chalice
Wee Willy Harris
Bantu Stephen Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo, Groucho, Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motor sickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
Balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying 'okey-dokey', singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

John Coltrane's soprano, Adi Celantano
Bonar Colleano

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)
Reasons to be Cheerful - one, two, three


"learn to love the questions themselves"

that's a quote from rilke that I have as my email signature. learn to love the questions ... not to be frustrated that t
here's more to learn.

I saw ponlop rinpoche the previous weekend in Hartford -- woot! rinpoche in the insurance city! -- and he talked about happiness in the morning session (emptiness in the afternoon).

Here's my quote from him: "Even if your life sucks, you can look at it with a sense of humor and it brings you joy." kind of like your Monday morning observation -- which I really like too.

I also liked this: "We must defrost our tendencies that are negative, harmful, instead of deep-freezing them ... put frozen beliefs into the mahayana microwave to soften them up."

This is amazing because what

This is amazing because what brought me to meditation class was totally the idea of trying to cheer up in general and hoping that that in and of itself would bring me a better outlook etc. I have felt this to be the case truly. In fact I have been describing it to my friends like I had fallen into a sort of hole and instead of just crying about it and feeling dismal and doomed I feel like someone has given me a harness and the proper tools and training to lift myself out on my own -- and while this is certainly not as easy as someone coming along with a quick fix, I am slowly feeling more confident that should I fall back into this proverbial hole I can get out more easily next time on my own without as much of a tizzy as I had in the past.

I certainly don't have all

I certainly don't have all the right questions, but I try to consider them daily.  This one hit home... how do we cheer up first... and then proceed from that place?

This morning I woke up with my cats on my bed and listened to the birds sing through my very open windows (four stellar reasons for cheering up:  1. waking up  2. cats on bed  3. open windows means spring and fresh air  4. birdsong in Brooklyn backyards.) 

Working by myself is lonely sometimes as an "independent" contractor, but if I open myself to the beauty around me first and "cheer up" before I consider how solitary my work feels sometimes, it is a genuine reason for being enthusiastic about that work. 

Then within the scope of five hours of Monday "independent" work, my interdependence becomes that much clearer because I recognize how many people, thoughts, and actions it takes to make my "solitary" work thrive and grow.  That recognition creates a flood of optimism and appreciation for everything and everyone who has contributed to my ability to be here in the work I love.  This translates back to that part you mention about optimism within solitude and hard work... 


Thanks, Ethan, for the great question! (wish I could have been able to attend the event with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche)


Wait, the cats were lazing around on the bed in the morning while there were birds singing at the window? I think you feed those cats too much.

Seriously, thanks for this. I totally share the joy of waking up w/cats on the bed, singing birds, and fresh air. May all sentient beings share the joy! Except the allergic ones : )


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