Working with Circumstance

Retreat 2015
January 28, 2017

We try to escape our real circumstances, both internal and external, in many different ways. But our real circumstance, no matter how painful, is the ground on which we must stand if we want to wake up. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi.


Tonight I want to talk about working with circumstance and what that means. Working with circumstance is the phrase very often used by my Dzogchen teacher Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. I have talked about it before, and I am going to talk about it a little bit differently tonight.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be somewhere else. I felt trapped by where I was, who I was with, what was happening. I felt very painfully the limitation of the circumstances that I was in and my own limitations. It was extremely painful to me, and I wanted to escape, not into numbout, but into a bigger world, into a bigger view.

The earliest things that I remember are to do with this. I remember one time I was driving in the car with my Mom. I don’t know how old I was. I just started crying, and I said, “I hate these people!” I meant the people in my neighborhood. My Mom asked, “Why?” She was shocked. I said, “Because they are so mean to each other.”

And then I used to wish that aliens would land on Earth. I mean I seriously wanted them to land on Earth, and the reason why was to like shock everybody out of their complacency and their small mindedness. I would sit on the radiator that looked out the window in my bedroom, and there was a park out there. I would look up at the sky, and I would mentally try to call to aliens to come and shock us. I thought that was the only thing that would make us have a bigger view, if aliens landed.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.