7 life lessons from spiritual leaders

Man praying, meditating in harmony and peace at sunset.
Man praying, meditating in harmony and peace at sunset.
Image: Michal Bednarek/ 123RF

The way you start your day is often closely linked to your deepest belief about what force guides you. Three spiritual leaders — a meditation teacher,a business powerhouse and prayer-network founder,and a sangoma — share how they navigate life. 

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Gen Kelsang Pagpa - Buddhist meditation teacher and national spiritual director for the New Kadampa Tradition 

LESSON #1: FINDING HARMONY

Pagba’s most important daily habit is meditation. “Meditation nourishes my mind with inner peace and goodness,” he says. “I meditate in a formal sense daily, but I also make an effort to integrate this experience into my daily activities and relationships, which enables me to feel balanced and in harmony with the people around me.”

LESSON #2: OVERCOMING SADNESS

When it comes to dealing with sadness, Pagba believes perspective is key. The cure to sadness, he says, “is to not focus on myself in a distorted way. I am only one person, and others are countless, therefore my own happiness isn’t so important. When I apply this logical thinking, my own problems diminish or disappear because sadness comes from being self-centred, and joy comes from loving and helping others with compassion.”

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Honey Makwakwa -  Sangoma, model, actress, and stylist

LESSON #3: ENTERING EMSAMO

Makwakwa’s morning routine is deeply connected with who she is as a sangoma. “After washing my face and brushing my teeth, ngingena emsamo ngivusele, ngithandaze.” She enters the sanctified place in her home where she connects with her ancestors.

LESSON #4: BELIEF AND ACCEPTANCE

As rooted as Makwakwa is in who she is, she is also a person who is at peace with learning to embrace change. Her most unshakable belief, she says, is “that this will also change. Nothing can stay the same. Nothing. Even rocks change shape.”

LESSON #5: DEALING WITH NEGATIVITY

Being confident in who she is and what she believes helps her remain placid, even in the face of negativity from others. Her solution to dealing with such challenges is a breezy type of stoicism: “Stay calm, keep it moving,” she says.

Image: The Times/Moletsi Mabe/Gallo Images

Wendy Luhabe - Entrepreneur and one of the driving forces behind the Professional Women’s Prayer Circle, a network of women who regularly pray together

LESSON #6: DAILY PRAYER

Luhabe starts every morning with prayer. “I wake up at 4am most days. I kneel down and pray, then I do my daily Bible studies and spiritual reading.”This practice, which she’s mastered over the years, empowers her and shapes the way she thinks about each day. “I am ready to face the world knowing that God has gone ahead of me, and I am equipped to command the day and glorify Him.”

LESSON #7: EXERCISING FAITH

Consistent with her daily habit of prayer and Bible study, Luhabe has learnt an important lesson about faith: “Faith is like a muscle; we have to exercise it until it grows. I had faith long before I had a relationship with God, and I have seen my faith grow as my relationship with God developed, and I have been able to hear Him as He whispers about small and large matters. “I have been amazed to witness that when we are obedient and surrender to God, He keeps His promises. I am convinced that the best way to strengthen our faith is to have a regular routine to spend time with God, study the Word and get to know Him daily, not when it is convenient. We need to make Him part of our daily schedule, and He will make us part of His daily schedule. That is what I mean by obedience.”

This article first appeared in print in the Sowetan S Mag June 2019 edition.

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