Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche: Advice to Teenagers


Photo by Pawo Choyning Dorji

The following are excerpts from an audio file found on the Chronicles of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche website.  You can listen to the audio of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s talk here.

On growing up too fast

So today I have something to tell you that is especially for teenagers. There is something so incredible about being young. I made a mistake by trying to grow up fast and I’m sure there are a lot of other people who have made the same mistake. Please for your own sake, do not grow up fast because you can never rewind and play back. Once you play – that’s it!

But this is easier said than done, no? [There is] a whole society (books, television, movies) all trying to make you grow up. And you yourself as a human being.  Human nature is competing: who will grow up fastest? I’m sure you even tell yourselves sometimes, “Grow up! C’mon!”  Not the right thing to do.

On discipline and depression

OK. One last word. Now, I hate to use the word discipline. The trouble is this is the one thing that you don’t want to hear: discipline. But even to make a cappuccino you need discipline. You need discipline of course. Skateboarding, all these things, they all need discipline. In our modern society, one of the biggest problems is depression (really really feeling down and depressed) and people turning to drugs and alcohol and all of that. If you really look into the root of depression it is because of lack of discipline. Discipline is so important. And when I say discipline, I’m talking about something so simple. I’m not talking about like getting up in the morning at 5 o’clock, like things like that.

You make your own discipline such as, “I will not go to Starbucks on Wednesdays.” Really, if you took that kind of vow, something as simple as this, in the future the ratio of visits to your shrink will be definitely reduced.

Even as simple as not going to Starbucks on Wednesday. I’m serious. If you can manage that for one year – good! Very good. You have learned the art of controlling yourself. If you want to be brave (maybe you think not going to Starbucks on Wednesdays would be too simple for you) then take a vow: “In the next six months, whoever it is, I will not yell at them.” That’s a difficult one, huh? That’s a difficult one. But it will give you amazing, amazing power. Because you all want to be indestructible, don’t you? Well, if you want to be indestructible why volunteer yourself to become an easy target? So, you can become very brave and take that kind of vow also.

On failure

Question: If we were take a vow for six months never to yell at somebody, how would you approach a possible inevitable failure?

Khyentse Rinpoche: Ah, failure is good. Failure is good. You have to fail many times. Take a vow again. Take a vow again. To shape the human character a lot of things have to go wrong, you know. You shouldn’t be afraid [of failure].


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