The secret to being happy is to help make other people happy. Geshe Michael Roach shares with Qi his thoughts on achieving real success in both personal life and business.
By Wang Lin
Qi: You play so many roles: teacher, author, businessman and textual scholar. Which role would you associate yourself with most and why?
Geshe Michael: My teachers for 25 years in the Tibetan monastery used to tell me that I should try to learn as many different roles as I could, because each role allows me to reach more people and to help them. Playing so many roles is most difficult, when I need to pay extra fees for my check-in baggage on flights, since I have to bring many sets of clothes: businessman, monk, yoga teacher, musician, and so on. So for me, your question is very good and insightful.
The one role I associate myself most with is as a student of my own Heart Teacher. In the Tibetan tradition, we believe that it is very important to have one person in the world who you treasure above all of your teachers: someone who really brings you the best things in your life. So when I think of who I am most, it is as a student still, even after over 40 years of training. And my favorite occupation is to take care of my Heart Teacher, whether it is by cooking, gardening, or running simple errands for him.
Qi: What is one memorable little story in teaching Diamond Cutter Principles around the world?
Geshe Michael: I spend a lot of time travelling the world and explaining the Diamond Cutter Principles to people--principles that I used to help found Andin International, which has reached US$250 million in annual sales and was recently sold to super investor Warren Buffett. My funds went to help refugees and poor people around the world.
"What makes me most happy is to see other people happy, and to help make them happy. I think this is true for all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. We are most happy when we have been able to make someone else happy."
Buddhist monks spend many years trying to reach a special state of meditation called bodhichitta, a kind of love and concern for the whole world, and a vision of what the world can become if we all try. I had never really seen how the principles could trigger this kind of compassion in people until one day I gave a talk to a large group of local factory owners in Guangzhou, China.
That day, we had talked a lot about how the seeds to be successful in business are planted by helping other business people to succeed in their own business. I felt that we reached a point where everybody understood this idea and was ready to try it.
And then I asked, very simply: "What do you all think would happen in the world, if everybody really believed that the only way to make money was to help other people make money?"
Suddenly the entire room was completely quiet, and I could see all these tough, hard businesspeople closing their eyes and imagining how the world would be...I could almost see them imagining all the people in the world who have money handing it to all the people in the world who need money, and the great wealth that would come back to every giver.
One of them raised his hand and said quietly, "Well....that would be a perfect world, a world of perfect harmony between all people."
At that very moment, I felt a wave of strong emotion, love and inspiration wiping through the whole room. It was bodhichitta, real ultimate love for every other living being. I have found that business people are often more hardworking and intelligent than many monks in a monastery, and I felt that at that moment they had understood real love in a way that few monks ever do. That was one of the most special moments in my life.
Qi: What makes you most happy?
Geshe Michael: What makes me most happy is to see other people happy, and to help make them happy. I think this is true of all of us, whether we really are aware of it or not. We are most happy when we have been able to make someone else happy. If we really understand the ancient Diamond Cutter Principles, then we really have something to offer to others that will make them extremely happy and successful.
Qi: What projects are you working on now?
Geshe Michael: I am working on about 200 projects and organizations with a lot of really talented and beautiful people. Here are three of my favorite ones at this moment:
1) A project to build an investment fund with the goal of providing one million free solar panels to poor people on each side of the Mexican-American border in the next six years with the help of Asian friends, and teaching Mexican young people Chinese language to help them continue solar business in Asia.
2) A book about how to apply the principles in my bestselling business book, The Diamond Cutter, to find and keep a successful relationship with that special person in your life (Doubleday/Random House Publishers in New York have already agreed to publish this, so have Oaktree Publishers, for the Chinese language version, for all Chinese speakers in Asia). This book will be called The Karma of Love. Watch for it!
3) An upcoming program for the scientific community at Princeton University where we will discuss how the ancient wisdom of Asia can be applied to solve the most famous problems of modern science, such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, one of the cornerstones of quantum mechanics. That is, if we really understand how the world is coming from seeds in our own mind, and that these seeds come from how well we take care of others, then we can actually solve some of the most difficult scientific questions about the nature of the universe around us.
"I plan to spend exactly half of the year in 2012 working on the world outside. I want to go to as many places as I can, helping people achieve their own financial success, perfect relationship, good personal health and working towards a world without pollution, war, or hunger."
Qi: What is your plan for next year?
Geshe Michael: I plan to spend exactly half of the year in 2012 working on the world outside. We have received invitations to teach Diamond Cutter Principles in over 50 cities around the world. I want to go to as many places as I can, helping people achieve their own financial success, perfect relationship, good personal health and working towards a world without pollution, war, or hunger. And then in my inner world, I plan to spend exactly half of the year with my Teacher, learning more about how to become a better person: more joyful, more calm and more focused. So I could be better equipped inside to help people outside.
About Geshe Michael Roach
Born December 17, 1952, Michael is the first American who has been awarded the degree of Geshe, or Master of Buddhism, after more than 20 years of study in Tibetan monasteries. He has used this training to become a prominent international teacher, businessman, philanthropist, author, educator, public speaker, textual scholar, and musician. Geshe Michael graduated with honors from Princeton University and has received the Presidential Scholar Medal from the President of the United States at the White House.
In 1981 he helped found Andin International Diamond Corporation and bring it to annual sales of over $100 million, donating his profits to international aid projects. His book about achieving business and personal success through generosity, The Diamond Cutter, has become a global bestseller in 20 languages. He is the founder of the Asian Classics Institute, Diamond Mountain University, the Asian Classics Input Project, Worldview, the Yoga Studies Institute, Star in the East, Global Family Refugee Aid, Three Jewels Community Outreach Centers, and the Diamond Cutter Institute. Find out more at http://geshemichaelroach.com
About Qi GLOBAL
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Every October, Qi hosts an annual meeting in Singapore, gathering business and community leaders from around the world. Contributors demonstrate how social innovation can impact and change lives and communities in Asia. Qi Global Pte. Ltd. is a Singapore-based social enterprise founded in 2009 whose vision is to create human progress in harmony with nature. Find out more at www.qi-global.com/conference