By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

I've always loved sports -- horseback riding, golf, running. I once asked my father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, what he thought about football, since it's a sport that didn't exist in Tibet. He answered, "They've been winning and losing the same game for a hundred years." I was struck by his humor, but even more so by the subtle truth behind what he said. Over those hundred years, games were won and games were lost. The players may have gained endurance, discipline, and camaraderie, but in the end, they did not make any progress, because they were always playing with the goal of gain.

In samsara --  the endless cycle of suffering -- we are always winning and losing the same game, somehow expecting to make progress. We spend part of our life trying to get it together, and the other part watching it fall apart. We don't realize that if we try to gain something, we had better be ready to lose it. As soon as we have time "I have a whole hour free" -- we are losing it. We work hard to have a relationship, and then it breaks up. We come together for a holiday party, and then it's over. We buy a new car, and then the fender gets a dent.

Everything we gain is subject to loss. Although this is as true as the sky is blue, we keep trying to make gain permanent in order to try to bring about happiness for "me." We think, "If only so-and-so would love me, I would be happy," "If only things would change, I would be happy," "If only things would stay the way they are, I would always be happy," and it only leads to heartache. This kind of wanting involves a lot of hope and fear, all based on denial of a simple truth: all the pleasure the world can offer eventually turns to pain. And trying to hold on to pleasure only causes more pain.