From the Editors / Giveaways

Taking a Chance: The Reservoir of Trust

Next month, Pema Chödrön will present teachings from Chögyam Trungpa’s book Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery to a sold-out audience of 3,000 in the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. I’ll be there to soak in Pema’s teachings and also to present meditation instructions. There has been so much interest in the seminar that a live webcast will also be available. There could be thousands more people taking part in this event, joining us via a live Internet hookup.

The thought keeps popping up in my mind that this is an extraordinary opportunity for all of us. How auspicious that so many human beings could gather together to meditate and study fear and fearlessness. It’s one of the last times that Pema will be teaching a big seminar like this in California, which also makes it very special.

One of the teachings in the book that captures people’s attention, and which I think Pema will speak about in California, is the reservoir of trust. This is what Chögyam Trungpa says about it in Smile at Fear:

The reservoir of trust is a very simple, straightforward idea. If we accept a challenge and take certain steps to accomplish something, the process will yield results—either success or failure. When you sow a seed or plant a tree, either the  seed will germinate, the tree will grow, or it will die. Similarly, for the inquisitive  warrior, trust means that we know that our actions will bring a definite response from reality. We know that we will get a message. Failure generally is telling us  that our action has been undisciplined and inaccurate in some way. Therefore, it fails. When our action is fully disciplined, it usually is fulfilled; we have success.   But those responses are not regarded as either punishment or congratulations.

Trust, then, is being willing to take a chance, knowing that what goes up must come down, as they say. When a warrior has that kind of trust in the reflections of the phenomenal world, then he or she can trust his or her individual discovery of goodness. Communication produces results: either success or failure. That is how the fearless warrior relates with the universe, not by remaining alone and insecure, hiding away, but by constantly being exposed to the phenomenal world and constantly being willing to take that chance.

What a liberating view: that you can trust both the successes and the failures in your life. We learn from both. Trusting in both success and failure gives us permission to take chances without being so afraid of the repercussions—because whatever the repercussions are, they are part of our path.

Shambhala Publications is offering five free admissions to the the Online Weekend Retreat with Pema Chödrön, to be chosen randomly from those who leave a comment below over the next 2 days.  So, take a chance! Enter the contest! To enter please leave a comment about the “reservoir of trust” excerpt above. What does it mean to you?

611 thoughts on “Taking a Chance: The Reservoir of Trust

  1. Although it may have been given many different meanings and misinterpreted in so many different ways,
    sometimes woefully so,
    in my opinion, the “reservoir of trust” is
    in the Western Christian World what is called “faith”.
    Have faith…

  2. I’ve begun the path of fearlessness, guided by my own soft spot, the compassionate care of friends, and years of guidance from Pema. I honor all of these beings and hold much gratitude.

  3. Caring for my husband for 1.5 years with terminal lung illness caused by a prescription medication – I was afraid every day. Afraid I wouldn’t do enough, or make the right choices about his care. His goal was to die peacefully at home without being medicated to death. We achieved his goal and when I saw him laying there dead – a great peace came over me that was totally unexpected. He had risen above his worn out body that tried to bravely survive each day. Now I am facing the task of being BRAVE each day without my love. Some days easy others more difficult. But each day is a new day and I look at his photo and smile.

  4. The “Reservoir of Trust” seems to me to be about being grounded in the belief and practice of thoughtful intent in all one’s actions. The actions that one takes under this intentional position will have effects that may be seen/ experienced as “successful” or “unsuccessful”, but in holding the “Reservoir of Trust”, these will not be seen as successes or failures, but will both present the opportunity for learning. Thus, although sometimes the results of an action may seem to be a failure, it may either not BE a failure, (and time will tell about that) or if it turns out to really “be a failure”, one can still learn from this by examining one’s intentions or discipline and acting in the future according to this assessment.

  5. I am building and drawing on the universal reservoir of trust constantly. I move from failure to success and back again moment to moment. More accurately I lurch from one to the other watching my desire to hold on to success and my habit of disconnecting and restorying failure. Feeling that wobbly, tight, difficulty breathing feeling that is fear of failing as I do what scares me most or what I didn’t know scared me at all.

  6. When wholeheartedness, purity of heart, is in action, the great reservoir of trust lives me. It is an activity, a benefaction of the living Buddhadharma.

  7. That is the proper blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You notice so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would need…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!

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