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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 11 56 Working With Praise While praise and blame are not ultimately true, that does not mean that we should dis- regard them outright. There are skillful meth- ods for working with the praise and blame we receive. When considering praise, first we need to be aware of the habits of our own minds. Some of us can be heaped with praise but it never touches us; we have a perfection- ist streak and always feel we could do bet- ter. We disregard praise. The problem with this is we never feel encouraged and lifted up by the appreciation of others, and then we miss something that can really help us in our efforts. In this case it is important to allow the praise to touch us. We do not need to solidify it and make it a cause for arrogance, but we can feel that something we have done has positively affected another person and they have appreciated it. We can simply be touched by the praise and then let it go. This can then energize us for further endeavors. If we are prone to self-doubt and lack confi- dence, we can sometimes remind ourselves of other’s appreciation of us in order to balance our mind’s habit to view ourselves negatively. Or we might have a tendency toward arrogance. Then praise becomes a cause for feelings of bloated superiority. In this case, we need to remember the teachings of imper- manence and interdependence. This expe- rience of praise is a single fleeting moment and we should not fixate on it, solidify it, and try to carry it around with us. It takes a lot of energy to do this because the moment naturally passes and fades. We find ourselves repeatedly telling others about it in order to return. Their email thanked us profusely for the same document and said how useful they had found it. This highlighted how one person can find something laudable while another finds it despicable! These differences can become even more extreme when com- municating with people from other cultures. Receiving praise and blame on the same day for the same communication was an excellent illustration of how praise and blame are not ultimately valid. Furthermore, this relativity does not just occur from the perspective of others but also from our own side. Some words may seem like praise to one person but blame to another. When I was teaching a Tibetan language class at a study program in Nepal, one of my friends taking my class accused me of being too demanding. These remarks were intended as criticism but I received them as praise! I really appreciated my own teachers who had pushed me. These students had come a long way and were paying to be there in difficult circumstances, so I was going to try to prog- ress their studies as much as possible. We all have our own ideas about what is good and what is bad; praise and blame are fluid and indeterminate. This is a good reminder of the Mind-Only tradition’s teach- ing on how our experiences are created by our own minds, our own ways of thinking, rather than by some objective external reality. Some of us overly fixate on the blame and criticism we receive and replay it in our minds over and over again. If this occurs, our view needs to be broadened. Rose TayloR teaches meditation, Buddhist philosophy, yogic exercise, and dance. she co-translated Stars of Wisdom by Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, and is a contributing author to Freeing the Body, Freeing the Mind: Writings on the Connections Between Yoga and Buddhism. arigoldfield