Our teacher, Thanat Chindaporn, encourages us all to be good people first and let the rest follow.
Most people think that life is about worldly possessions, financial security and how to get them. Of course, it is true that without financial security it is hard to be happy. However, over the years, I have observed something interesting from watching myself, my friends and family. There is no security in material possessions because the feeling of security is entirely in the mind. Life has more to do with how we fail to meet our own expectation and what we can learn from those experiences than it has to do with achieving those pre-conceived notions of success. What we learn is that, if we want to be happy, we have to change our definition of success.
One common trait I obverse is that, as westerners, we have a tendency to undervalue our own achievements and, we get so preoccupied with what he haven’t done or what we’ve done wrong that we fail to capitalize on obvious opportunities for improvement and growth. The Buddhist conception of success is not about material wealth. Rather, material wealth is a bi-product or a symptom of true success which Buddhists understand to be the refinement of character. When a person’s character is well refined, material comfort is inevitable because purity of mind is like a magnet to positive experience.
To put this in other words, our teacher Thanat Chindaporn tells us that he admonishes his children along the following lines, “no matter how educated you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter what job you do, the most important thing is that you’re a good person.” This encapsulates the quintessential Buddhist conception of victory which is the ability to direct one’s attention persistently towards the cessation of suffering in the world. When a person devotes her life to the reduction of suffering with full attention, she generates so much good will in the minds of others that she cannot avoid success of every kind. It is this understanding of how good will is generated that creates a feeling of satisfaction and financial security.