Success is a seductive thing. An old friend, Christina Puntel, (Vincentian by baptism at a Vincentian parish in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, USA), wrote recently suggesting an article to me. Like Vincent, she is simple in life and in speech. She said,
this was a good read. for me at least… showing up/practice of no success from buddhism and how that helps me be myself in the moment.
Buddhism? for Vincentians? Every tradition has something to offer, and many traditions find an echo in Vincentian spirituality. Called “The Practice of No Success,” it really is worth the time. How often have you asked yourself as a Vincentian, “How long will we have to work until the excluded are included, until the marginalized are brought into the center, until ALL the poor have the Good News preached to them and the “year of the Lord’s favor” is revealed? How do we keep going back day after day to confront the same problems?
And finally, finally we realize by practicing “No success,” by mortifying our desires to be the “savior” of the poor, by “showing up,” we realize that we really aren’t asked as Vincentians to go day after day to change the world. We are asked day after day to meet the poor Christ, to contemplate him, and to let him direct our lives. It isn’t about success. It’s about faithfulness. #ChristinaisVincent.
That willingness to keep showing up is the practice of no success. It is familiar to activists and meditators, alike. It is the practice of giving up hope and hopelessness, of letting go of attachment to outcomes, fruition, a sense of accomplishment, without despair or pessimism. “No success” is quite contrary to everything our culture teaches us about how to orient our lives. Hoping for enlightenment or world peace or fearing endless samsara and the planet’s demise are endless see-saws without exit. The practice of no success opens up the present space of now, asks us to sit down (again) and follow our breath because we trust there is basic sanity there; we act (again) because we know that despite all the war and aggression, there is goodness, peace, and justice to be found.