“Disappointment is a good sign of basic intelligence.”
That is one of many powerful and insightful statements in Chogyam Trungpa’s 1973 book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. After two careful reads I still do not have a full grasp on all of this book’s rich concepts, but this particular quote is stuck in my mind tonight.
Trungpa makes this assertion in reference to the human ego’s insatiable desire to rationalize and justify almost everything that happens to us, refusing to fully deal with the dynamics of the present moment. He poses the question, “Am I willing to open my eyes to the circumstances of life as they are?”
We often fail to fully grasp the present because of obeying our well-honed impulse to search for something else—something bigger and more exciting, an escape route into a preferred future. Eventually, Trungpa writes, if we give up “trying to be someone special” and obtain security we see the irony of our vain efforts in both regards.
This humorous epiphany is combined with the freedom found in making observations rather than judgments, and helps us to think clearly and make better decisions that lead to a more peaceful co-existence with others. We acknowledge disappointment, fear, joy, etc., for what they are, in the moment as they occur. Doing so is one of the healthiest acts we can embrace, and paves the way for rational choices rather than emotional reactivity such as anger or denial.