Trading the good life for a better one
Maurizio Cacciatore, 44, high-flying executive and some-time president of internationally famous companies, had what seemed to be the good life. But his lifestyle was not giving him any satisfaction. So he left the glamour and the stresses of the corporate world and became a full-time student of the Master’s Program for Western teachers of the Dharma. This is his story.
“I can’t say that I heroically decided to renounce mundane happiness in order to dedicate my life to Dharma. In fact, the quantity of mundane happiness that I was enjoying was small: though I had high status and beautiful girlfriends (the two most important things, it seems) I was perpetually nervous, restless, worried, dissatisfied, angry and sometimes very sad.
“As my career was continuously advancing, my level of intolerance and dissatisfaction was proportionally increasing. Dealing with me was becoming more and more difficult, especially for my shareholders and the people for whom I felt responsible.
“Parallel to this, I had started to go to a Zen center, practicing meditation on a very irregular basis, and completely stopping any practice every time I had a new girlfriend or a new job. I would start again as soon as the first signs of disappointment reappeared.
“In 1996 I met Tibetan Buddhism through Geshe Champa Gyatso, but still went on with my irregular way of practicing. Nevertheless, I was reading and studying a lot, not only about Dharma but also about physics, biology, neurobiology, psychology and several other subjects, always looking for a way to gain a deeper understanding of reality.
“Finally, during the summer of 1999 I went to Pomaia, Italy for a week to attend some teachings. It was there that I learnt, not only of the existence of the Master’s Program, but also that in January of 2000 they were going to start Madhyamika [the ideal of the Bodhisattva path], by far my favorite subject of all.
“I’d already left my last job [as CEO of an international transport and distribution company,] and all the conditions seemed favorable. Geshe-la agreed to admit me to the Program, even though I had not attended the Abhisamaya [a Maitreya text] component of the course. Two months later, I packed my things, left my Milan apartment, and moved to Pomaia.
“There I found the best group of people I had ever met in my life, the possibility of continuous practice and a new view of myself and reality …”