Friday, September 18, 2009

Praise and blame: real or not?

Today's Tricycle Daily Dharma comes from this article by The Dalai Lama.
If we really stop to think about praise and criticism, we will see they do not have the least importance. Whether we receive praise or criticism is of no account. The only important thing is that we have a pure motivation, and let the law of cause and effect be our witness. If we are really honest, we can see that it makes no difference whether we receive praise and acclaim. The whole world might sing our praises, but if we have done something wrong, then we will still have to suffer the consequences for ourselves, and we cannot escape them. If we act only out of a pure motivation, all the beings of the three realms can criticize and rebuke us, but none of them will be able to cause us to suffer. According to the law of karma, each and every one of us must answer individually for our actions.

This is how we can put a stop to these kinds of thoughts altogether, by seeing how they are completely insubstantial, like dreams or magical illusions. When people praise us and we glow with delight, it is because we think that being praised is beneficial. But that is like thinking that there is some substance to a rainbow or a dream. However much benefit appears to accrue from praise and acclaim, actually there's none at all. However convincing it seems, it is as unreal as a magician's illusion.
He may be right, but he is ignoring the fact that we have built into us emotional reactions to how people view us. That's part of our evolutionary heritage. To say that we shouldn't care what people think misses a human element that is central to how we are. Our emotional reactions to other people are as real as anything in the world. To say that they are a magician's illusion ignores part of our fundamental nature. Perhaps we can stand back from our emotional reactions and see them as just that, emotional reactions. But to dismiss them as unreal is simply not correct.

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