How to Seize the Opportunity Now
The way Buddha taught, he was saying, “Don’t wait for opportunity to show up.” You are the opportunity. And you are in charge of creating your own chances in your life.
The “opportunity” that we normally talk about, regarding outer things, is just as condition. It’s like the water or sunlight for the seed, or the flower, to grow.
You are the seed. You are the opportunity. And we usually feel that way, don’t we, when are when everything’s going OK. If everything’s going successfully just the way you want it to go, when you manage to get something done, really accomplish something, then we feel, “Yes! I am the opportunity. I can do this.”
For example, when you are able to practice meditation pretty well, then we feel, “Yes. This is a precious opportunity. I can calm my mind, I can calm my emotions, I can achieve this and that.”
The problem arises when things are not going well.
If you look around in a bookstore, you’ll find more books on crisis management than on success management, right?
That’s exactly how we miss our opportunity. We think opportunity only appears in the form of something positive. We wait for it to take a form that makes us think, “I’m going to be successful through this.”
You Are the Opportunity
What constitutes an opportunity for us depends on our objective, our goal. Without knowing clearly what our goal or dream or objective, it is very difficult to identify what “opportunity” actually means for us.
Usually we don’t think clearly, do we? As a result, we feel either that we’re not getting any opportunities or we missed the opportunity. It goes round and round like that. First, we think, “No opportunity is coming to me,” and then you turn around and think, “Oh, the opportunity was right there. I just missed it!”
So you see, this is our common experience: waiting for opportunity to come, feeling we’re not getting the right opportunity here, and then later realizing we just missed the opportunity. Right? That’s the cycle we’re involved in.
In order to seize an opportunity, we have to find a way to clearly define our objective, our goal, and what the opportunity looks like for achieving that particular dream, that goal.
According to Buddha’s teaching, we are the best opportunity for ourselves. Here we have this precious birth––this precious mind, this precious opportunity to live as this individual person in this life. This is our opportunity: this precious human birth.
How to Seize An Opportunity
You can see that actually you yourself are your best opportunity. The outer opportunity that we usually see is just a condition. If you’re not inwardly prepared to pursue it, having an outer opportunity doesn’t have any benefit for you, it doesn’t lead you anywhere.
Once you are prepared and ready to pursue it, you begin to notice that opportunity is actually present throughout your day. Every corner of your life presents an opportunity for you. Even when you see the dishes stacked up in the sink, or when you hear the musical sound of the garbage truck outside reminding you to take out the trash, there’s an opportunity there.
When I was growing up in Sikkim, in India, there was a guy in our state who was kind of like the “richest man in town.” The story was that he had been very poor but had made his fortune working on construction projects. It was said that he had been given a job to collect sand for pouring concrete and other similar tasks like that, and that one day while working hard he found a huge chunk of diamond.
That’s regarded as a true story in my hometown, but who knows. There are many such stories.
Someone said, “Most people miss the opportunity because it arrives dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
How to Recognize An Opportunity
We have to seize the opportunity before we fully know what it may become.
Sometimes opportunities don’t look like opportunities. Your opportunity may not look like something with potential at all.
For example, consider the Ninja Turtles. When they first brought this concept for a kids’ TV show to various big companies, nobody wanted it. They didn’t take the opportunity to develop it, but later it became so popular. All the kids loved it.
So we have to seize opportunities before we know what they could become. In some ways, it’s a kind of blind faith, isn’t it? You have to believe, you have to trust in this opportunity.
And even more than that, we have to trust in ourselves, what we could become. We could become awakened!
So when we have a moment of anger, we have to seize that opportunity and try to see what it could bring. How can we make this moment into something positive, productive, and beneficial.
Buddha taught that even in a moment when we are experiencing intense anger, if we can fully take advantage of it, that very moment could be the one that brings us to awakening.
Anger as an Opportunity: An Exercise
Try this the next time you feel angry or irritated about something or someone.
1. First, recognize that this anger is presenting you with a great opportunity to move toward awakening.
2. When you look at this anger or annoyance, what do you see? Look at the anger itself, apart from the thing or person that triggered the anger. Look at it apart from any stories about the situation or event.
3. Feel this and notice what the energy is like, how it moves in your body, how it affects your breathing, and how it affects your state of mind. What do you notice?
4. Ask yourself, “Have I felt this way before?” If the answer is yes, just touch on that memory of anger for a moment and ask yourself, “Did that experience of anger lead to a good result?”
5. If the answer is no, make an aspiration now to turn your mind in a positive direction this time. As you make this aspiration, don’t worry if the energy of anger is still moving through you, that’s fine. Even if you still feel angry, you are taking a positive step. Breathe. Relax. Appreciate your willingness to transform your anger. As you do this practice, it will get easier.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche originally taught the above perspectives at a public program in 2017 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.