4 min read

The Great Eastern Sun

A concept from Buddhism that was introduced to me by Chogyam Trungpa in his book, Shambhala.
The Great Eastern Sun
Great Eastern Sun vision is based on appreciating ourselves and appreciating our world. Because we appreciate the world, we don’t make a mess in it. We take care of our bodies, we take care of our minds, and we take care of our world.
— Chögyam Trungpa
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

When I started to write out my thoughts on crafting rules to live by for 2019, I started with a simple premise: I want to live life in a way that I am proud of. There are many ways one could take that message. Some are motivated by financial success, others by physical abilities, by their artistic success, and so on. I am motivated by a mix of all these elements without any one being more dominant than the rest which has lead to some confusing thoughts as I have lived life.

Thinking back to when I started University and my career in theatre, the financial rewards involved were never something that I focused on. I worked at the Regina Performing Arts Centre for three years, and never once asked for a raise. I took internships at theatres in the United States working for next to nothing and was thankful to just be able to eat each week. A lot of the roles I played in the nearly a decade of theatre work didn’t allow for much creative reward either. Sorting screws, sweeping and mopping stages, and changing lightbulbs in a theatre doesn’t amount to much personal satisfaction. What was rewarding was delivering work that aligned with the director’s vision or producing work that helped create a collective response from the audience.

From there, I transferred over to working in the hotel industry. Again, not a financially lucrative career until reaching higher levels of management. To begin with, it was a change of pace from theatre life, and then developed into an interest in the business and how all the numbers worked out. After the first summer working at the front desk, the most rewarding times were the ones where I could share my knowledge of Whitehorse or the Yukon with visitors. Having them return from an outing to come straight to the front desk to tell me their discoveries of the day with a smile on their face lifted my spirits. It made all the other guest complaints or stressful situations that day worth it.

Over the past few years, my life has revolved around property management. More financially rewarding than the other two careers, but more stressful as solutions to problems were generally out of my control. The motivation to continue working in this career isn’t as clear as in theatre or the hospitality industry, but it is one that will have the largest impact on the people who matter. The one thing uniting us all is having a place to call home or to sleep at night. I can go to bed at night knowing that I have done everything I could to allow at least forty families or couples to sleep easier at night knowing they had a home in order.

Every time I get asked why I continue with property management when things get tough, I come back to that thought. I remind myself that someone else would be doing my job and there is a strong chance they wouldn’t be as patient or empathetic towards the needs of the tenants or the owners as I can be. Same goes with the other jobs I have had. I have always felt a duty towards helping others in the ways that I know best .

It wasn’t until I read Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior last year that I could understand what was driving me internally. I had a sense that I wanted to help others, but reading the chapter about the Great Eastern Sun, I found myself highlighting large chunks of text and re-reading passages constantly. The message clicked with me. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of the world.

With the Great Eastern Sun, sun means, “the sun of human dignity, the sun of human power”, and emphasis is placed upon:

no human being is a lost cause.

As Chögyam Trungpa writes in the chapter, we come into the world clean, not dirty, and there is always the possibility of cleansing oneself to return to that natural state. It’s important to work towards being honest with ourselves about our current state and what can be done to return ourselves to being the original state. This task of cleansing is not meant to be a large ordeal, but as simple as brushing your teeth and bathing. When you complete those tasks, you feel much cleaner then when you started. The Great Eastern Sun is about finding those truths about ourselves and continually working towards that goal of cleansing them as much as possible.

Connecting mind and body is the dawning of the Great Eastern Sun, which then leads to the belief that the world and others can be cleansed. I want to do my part to help others and be aware of my actions towards the world to ensure I don’t make things messier than they are now. I have thought about this belief for most of the past year and believed in it so strongly, that last week I put a tattoo of the Great Eastern Sun on my back.

A reminder to connect my mind and body, to keep my world clean, and to do my best in cleansing the world or others. It’s the dawn of 2019, but also the dawn of the Great Eastern Sun within me.

Read more about the experience: Tattoo with Marru from Inkroom Tattoo Studio.

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