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To reach potential

To reach potential

Woman with palms together and eyes closed.

I have this thing
Inside of me, I’m sure.
Solid, real, tangible.
An essence of awesomeness
That early on my
Parents knew to be.

This potential I
Must work hard to actualise –
For wouldn’t it be such a loss
If everyone wasn’t made quite aware
That the single-most precious
Object in the world was me.

Yet something’s never quite right
In this pursuit of
Self-absorbed attainment
Where me and mine come first
To the detriment of all.

So lonely this path of self-absorption.
Others always othered:
To beat, to compare, to challenge
– sometimes to love –
Friends, family, strangers
They cannot reach me
On this pedestal,
Whether my arms are open or not.

Yet fear drives me on
To achieve the A+ of life.
I must be something, someone
To be considered worthy
Of love and affection
To find my true place in this world.

Elusive thus remains the
Contentment that I seek.
No job, no role, no other living being
Can halt the ever-going
Search for more and better.

Due to this, with head
Bowed with humility,
I solemnly take safe direction
In objects worth of refuge:
The three that provide inspiration now
Regarding the three
I will eventually become.
Great potential, yes, is there for sure.
Having the Tathagata lineage
Inconceivable is the capacity
Of this mind of mine.
But given the job to find it
– This I or its potential –
Empty handed I will return.

Thus with the weapon of understanding
The illusion-like nature of appearances
I shall strike at the source
Of all misery and pain.
You, self-centered thought
– Thief! Madman! Ruiner of all joy! –
I will believe you no more.

With courage instead
I choose to cultivate
The bodhi mind deep and vast.
The aspiration to the greatest
Potential for all.

(Photo by Riza Nugraha.)

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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