“Emptiness is described as the basis that makes everything possible”
– The Twelfth Tai Situpa Rinpoche, Awakening the Sleeping Buddha
‘It’s like coming home’ said Geshe Michael Roach on Indonesia. I was surprised to learn that the school of Tibetan Buddhism originated in Sumatra, Indonesia in the 10th century, and is attributed to Atiśa Dipankara Shrijnana. Atisa, a Buddhist teacher from the then Pala Empire, at the age of thirty-one, traveled for thirteen months to reach Sumatra, to study under the guidance of Buddhist master Suvarnadvipi Dharmakirti for twelve years. At the end of his study Atisa was advised by his master to “go to the north. In thenorth is the Land of Snows.” – Tibet.
Interview with Geshe Michael Roach – Audio
Geshe Michael Roach was recently in Jakarta to present a seminar on ‘The VALUES That Lead To SUCCESS for Professionals and Entrepreneurs’ and I had the privilege to meet him at Gouri Mirpuri’s house for a short interview. At first sight he did not look like my idea of a monk, dressed in a pink shirt, long wavy hair and a small diamond earring. It was fascinating to know the journey of a Princeton graduate to being a Geshe or a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks. He embarked on that journey looking for the purpose of life after the death of his mother, father and brother in quick succession.
A visit to his website reveals his role as a successful businessman, musician, writer, musician and more. He shared that he was currently learning ballet in his fifties and this year he has become good enough to lift his partner while dancing. His ongoing work and passion is to the compile all the Buddhist texts and teachings through Asian Studies Institute. Geshe Michael has used his Buddhist teachings in business successfully at Andin International Diamond Corporation to generate annual sales of over $100 million, donating his profits to international aid projects. He now travels the world teaching the diamond sutra to bring success to people around the world.
‘The hidden potential is the realm of possibilities available to all of us’ he explained with a pen, the concept of the Sanskrit term shunyata, which is the basis of the Buddhist Heart Sutra:
Iha Sariputra rupam sunyata sunyataiva rupam, rupan na prithak sunyata sunyataya na prithag rupam, yad rupam sa sunyata ya sunyata tad rupam; evam eva vedana-samjna-samskara-vijnanam.
Here, Sariputra, form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.
(As translated from the Sanskrit by Edward Conze in his book ‘Buddhist Scriptures’)
Geshe Michael explained that success is made up of four parts and each one of them is equally important. The first is money which makes the world go round and fulfills your material need. Then is health as money without a feeling of well being is meaningless. The third part of success is loving relationships to share your life and the last part is giving back to the world around to make a positive difference to the lives of the people you touch. The ‘seeds’ of success or hidden potential is available to us through our good deeds or karma and is translated into limitless possibilities. This message is basis of his book ‘Karmic Management’
The real way to be a success is to make other people—all other people—successful. We just need the courage to try; we need to be fearless.
Footnote: Tao Te Ching on Emptiness = Shunyata:
- We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
- But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
- We turn clay to make a vessel;
- But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
- We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
- And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
- Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.