Success and Failure


I’m still between one thing and another but feeling closer to some semblance of order.

Last night, I moved all of my supplies into the second room. This morning, in my main room, I picked up my writing pen, grabbed my sketchbook from the scanner, plopped my coffee cup on my notebook and started drawing. Without my reading glasses. Kept running over lines and wobbling on my lap. Still, I forged ahead, scrounged a brush and glass from the sink and discovered further how little wash this particular paper can really take.

Meanwhile, my elderly feline, Ginger Ale, begged to go outside. As soon as I stood up and walked to the door and opened it, he changed his mind. As soon as I sat down, he wanted to eat. When I stood up and went over to give him some food, he changed his mind.

By the time I was through, I thought, “I have to fix this drawing”, but knew that the more I tried, the worse it would get. “Well, it’s early enough. I’ll do another.” Then I thought, “Oh, just post the thing.”

While doing my yoga, I was listening to a Youtube video of Pema Chodron giving a lesson on Chogyam Trungpa‘s teaching about the reservoir of trust and couldn’t help but draw analogies to the practice (especially, my current practice) of drawing. Below is an excerpt:

“And when he talks about the reservoir of trust,  what he says is this. You can trust (and it’s very similar to the echo, actually), you can trust that whatever you say or do you’ll get a response from the world.

“There will always be communication coming back to you The reservoir of trust is that’s what you can trust. Not that it’s going to work out for you or that everything’s going to be okay, but you can trust that you’ll always be in communication with your world. Your world will always be giving you the information you need to open, to practice the discipline of openness. The world will always be giving you the messages.

“And he says you begin to feel that it’s a very rich world, one that never runs out of messages. Wow.  That is a description of the direction of the transformation of consciousness The direction that we can go. That instead of a world that is a threat and a promise, where every situation is a threat or a promise, you begin to feel that it’s a very rich world, one that never runs out of messages. A bank of richness he said, and it’s a reservoir that never dries up. Like there’s always going to be communication with your world, and you can always be learning how to go forward.

“And he says that the only way it dries up is if you try to fuss with it and make it turn out the way you want it to. Then it dries up and you don’t get the clear messages anymore because the prajna’s not working, there’s no clear seeing and its not manifesting as skillful means where you can communicate in a compassionate and really helpful way with other people and with the world.

“So the first quality is trust and it’s really trust in the richness of the world. And the second one really follows from that. And it’s joy or appreciation. And this is the teaching I absolutely love and I use it all the time in my own life—this all pervasive discipline of openness. For me a lot it comes from this teaching on trust, and the teaching on music or joy. It says, Where does the joy come from? It comes from realizing that nothing is ever a dead end. That whatever is happening right now in present time is the fruition of something and the seed of something else. It’s a process. It’s dynamic.

“And I notice over and over, especially when bad things happen, that there’s a sense of fixing it. Fixating it. Feeling like it’s always going to be like this. Like this terrible thing has happened and it’s like a heavy rock around your neck that’s dragging you down. Literally, it drags you down into depression or it drags you down into tremendous fear. Terror, or incapacitating self doubt.

“So a word that’s used in this sense of appreciation and joy is a kind of doubtlessness. Sometimes it’s referred to as eternal doubtlessness. Doubtlessness, that no feeling is final – that’s a quote from Rilke. No feeling is final. It’s the end of something and it’s the beginning of something else. It’s always the start of something fresh…

Success and failure are the path of awakening…That’s a fearless approach to our life. ”

—Pema Chodron

6 thoughts on “Success and Failure

  1. Paul Ranney

    Ms Suzanne: a little awareness of success / failure & how these define or delinate us for what is truly real, here, now…. Had a four hour (way too long!) rehearsal with my band today in preparation for our 1 3/4 hour concert tomorrow at 6 p.m.; and along with the autoharp I also play jazz clarinet but the embouchure was pretty blow after an hour so was squeaking and squawking like a neophyte! … so am aware that it is all good; it is best to get all the squeaks out now so that when it really counts, in front of a hundred or so — there is only sweetness and good sound! Thanks for your inspiring presence. Paul of Flowerland Mountains

      Time is ephemeral, eternity is just the beginning of infinity. Peace need not be proclaimed as “beginning”, it was proclaimed long before physical manifestation as we know it. Love only appears to spring forth and grow from nothing; Love has always been and continues on, waiting only for openness and trust to express. Life only appears to begin now; Life expands from Light.

  2. Heidi K

    Nice art, and appreciate the reservoir of trust teaching. It has perspectives I haven’t encountered before, and they make a lot of sense. Thanks! 🙂

  3. drosera

    Love the reservoir of trust talk — thanks for showing me how to get to this blog – I like it!

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