Would you rather be the “Buddha”? Or the “Badass”?

In other words, would you rather immerse yourself in a deep spiritual practice detached from the grind of daily life…

… Or someone who is bold, ambitious, and relentlessly driven to achieve big life goals at work and in life?

I used to believe I had to choose one or the other.

Be spiritual.

Or be ambitious.

But there’s a third option.

You'll find out what that third option is in this short and enlightening video from Mindvalley Founder, Vishen Lakhiani.

Here's a question for you. Would you like to be the type of person that is spiritual and inflow and having those persistent feelings of being at one with the universe?

Or would you like to be the type of person that is absolutely crushing it, making money, achieving your goals and furthering your career?

If you think of these two types of people as being archetypes, you can think of one as being the ‘Buddha' and the other one as being the ‘Badass'.

The question is: can you be a Buddha and a Badass?

This question brings up this whole debate on why it is that some people talk about hustle and hardworking as a means to success, while others talk about flow and surrender.

What is the truth?

What if both of these ideas are fundamentally wrong? There seems to be such a polar opposite between two different approaches to work.

You might remember the recent New York Times article on the entrepreneur Elon Musk, the co-founder of Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. The article details how he was working an excessive amount of hours, burning himself out, and could not get to sleep with the use of the sleeping pill Ambien.

The article by Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington post, tells Elon Musk that he has to relax more. He replied to the article on Twitter stating that he could not relax because of how big his mission is for the world.

badass or buddha ambitious or spiritual

Now, what if both of them represent these two sides, Badass and Buddha? And, what if there is a way to reconcile these two sides?

I used to be flipping between these two sides. There were periods of my life where I wasn't concerned about work, I was concerned with self-actualization.

And there were other periods of my life where I was so obsessed with work that I didn't have time to relax. During these times of life, I always had a mentor to call on. His name is Srikumar Rao.

I think of Srikumar Rao as my personal Yoda. If I have a dilemma I call up Srikumar and he just sheds wisdom that blows me away.

The Integral Theory

So, here's the distinction between Badass and Buddha. In ‘Integral Theory' which is a theory of human development, it states that human beings exist in different stages in terms of how they view the world.

There is a particular stage called the ‘Orange Stage.' In this stage, you are operating like Wall Street and Silicon Valley. This is the rational, materialistic stage.

This stage is about hard work, getting wealthy, and hustle. And there is a stage of evolution beyond that the ‘Green Stage'. The people in this ‘Green Stage' are about enjoying life and being at one with the environment.

These were the people in the 1960s that were labeled as ‘Hippies' because they were anti-war and anti-commercialization. All they seemed to want to do was relax, listen to music and smoke a joint.

In our world, we tend to see these two levels (the Orange and Green stages) as quite different. You have the Orange materialistic stage and the Green peaceful Hippie stage.

But, in Human Development Theory there is a level above that. That level is one that is referred to as ‘Integral'. The Integral level is where you want to move up to.

badass or buddha ambitious or spiritual

The Orange level is Badass, where you talk about hard work and hustle, and the Green stage is Buddha, where you talk about flow and surrender.

The Integral level is where you integrate both the Orange and Green levels. You take the ‘Badass' and the ‘Buddha' levels and you make them one.

Ken Wilbur, the famous philosopher, wrote about this in a powerful essay called ‘Egoless Means More'. In this essay, he argued that the great yogis, saints and sages of the world, like Jesus, Muhammad and Padmasambhava, were not “feeble-mannered milquetoasts”.

They were movers and shakers who rattled the world with the power of their mission. From subduing entire continents to bull-whips in the temple.

Ken Wilbur goes on to say that it is a myth that at the Buddha level, the spiritual level, you have to resign yourself from the world.

Likewise, it is a myth that if you are at the “Orange Level' (Silicon Valley and Wall Street make money, hustlers) then hard work and hustle is the secret to success.

It is not. Those are bullshit rules.

Be a Badass Buddha

badass or buddha ambitious or spiritual

Where you want to go is to integrate these two stages and move to the next level (Integral Level) where you can be a ‘Badass Buddha'.

I found that when we can operate from that level, that is when we do our best work. That is when work is meaningful and fun.

So, how do you move to that Integral Level where you can be Buddha and Badass?

Well, I decided to bring Srikumar Rao, the famous MBA professor, and my mentor, to a Masterclass. He is phenomenal at explaining how to become a Buddha and Badass.

He has become one of the top-performing MBA teachers in the world by integrating the wisdom of the East with a modern American MBA program.

In this Masterclass Rao will talk about five things that will help you ascend to the ‘Integral Level'.

LABELS: He teaches you that there is no such thing as good and no such thing as bad.

BENEVOLENT UNIVERSE: When you start to think of the universe as benevolent, you start operating in a different way.

NON-ATTACHMENT: This does not mean not having goals. It means having goals, but (and this is the tricky bit)… being completely unattached to the outcome of your goal.

HAPPINESS: How to elevate your states of happiness and positivity on a consistent basis.

REFRAMING: How do we create ‘great'. How do we create perseverance in our lives, to be able to go beyond the bad things that happen to us by re-framing them?

If you would like to understand how to take your work and start integrating elements of the ‘Buddha' within your work, I think you are really going to enjoy this Masterclass with Srikumar Rao.

As you can see the idea of being a ‘Buddha Or Badass' is a little more nuanced than you’d expect.

Because it’s not about being either a “Buddha” OR “Badass.”

It’s about integrating both concepts.

And I’d argue that the world, more than ever before, is in need of more people who choose both.

I hope this video has inspired you to take the path of the “Badass Buddha.”

If you’re having a hard time reconciling the idea of being ambitious AND spiritual at the same time, consider these words from philosopher Ken Wilber:

“Think of the great yogis, saints, and sages from Moses to Christ to Padmasambhava. They were not feeble-mannered milquetoasts, but fierce movers and shakers from bullwhips in the Temple to subduing entire countries.

They rattled the world on its own terms, not in some pie-in-the-sky piety; many of them instigated massive social revolutions that have continued for thousands of years.

And they did so, not because they avoided the physical, emotional, and mental dimensions of humanness, and the ego that is their vehicle…

…but because they engaged them with a drive and intensity that shook the world to its very foundations.”


badass or buddha ambitious or spiritualVishen Lakhiani is an author, speaker and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, and the author of the best-selling book: ‘The Code of the Extraordinary Mind'.





badass or buddha ambitious or spiritual