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In this dark age, what we think is good for us is bad for us, and what we think is bad for us is good for us. As they say in golf, “If it feels wrong it’s probably right.” We do not know what is good for us, and this confusion perpetuates samsara, the setting sun. In fact, a sudden burst of bravery is the only way to break the confused magnetic polarity between good and bad. Like pulling two magnets apart, when we do it slowly we can feel the intensity of the magnetic pull, but if we do it suddenly, we break the karmic attraction. Leaping gives us perspective. At that moment, we see what we should avoid. We may encounter turbulence when we leap, which is simply the last gasp of the ego still trying to reject what is good for us.

Our outrageousness in leaping does not come from insecurity, wildness, or insanity. This kind of leap is a form of confidence, a confluence of wisdom mixed with bravery. It has a quality of enlightened calculation and chutzpa, awakened audacity. The Tibetan word is photsö, “accurate assessment.” We have, through enlightened assessment, calculated how to go beyond the magnetic pull of the setting sun. We know deep inside that we can do it—and that we must do it.

In a nutshell, this moment of leap means not abandoning our life. Constantly we must be engaging. The ability to be abrupt indicates having a true sense of ourselves. We are not afraid to put ourselves on the line. Since we are not cowardly, we are not intimidated by unforeseen events. Trusting our training and our motivation toward virtue gives us a constant springboard from which to leap. We no longer camouflage ourselves intellectually in spiritual paraphernalia. There is nothing to hide.

In the meditative discipline, this principle of abruptness is the notion of going directly to the nature of one’s mind. If one does not suddenly arise, one will inevitably get lost transitioning from the conceptual mind of cowardice to the wisdom mind of bravery. The reason we leap is that the wisdom mind is inherent and intrinsic. In Shambhala it is known as “basic goodness.”

At any moment in our day we can take that leap of abruptness, the second type of bravery. The more we practice jumping over fear, the more natural and relaxing it will feel to be present. We will discover that opportunities for bravery are happening continuously. Through the power of the immediate moment, the world is always beckoning us to be brave.

When we are free of deception, we are able to be fully present. Because we are not looking behind our back, there is a feeling of readiness. We feel immediate. Therefore, the second form of braveness is abruptness, the ability to suddenly jump. Abruptness indicates that bravery is not an indiscernible slow-swinging pendulum, where somehow we move seamlessly from deception to bravery. Rather, abruptness is a sudden, immediate, and noticeable experience of true bravery.

From the May 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun. Click here to browse the entire issue online.

Sakyong Mipham is the spiritual leader of Shambhala, an international network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind into an Ally and Ruling Your World.

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