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Thread: Don't Expect Applause

  1. #1

    Don't Expect Applause

    Something I wrote on my blog earlier. These are just the thoughts of a student and should be taken as such.

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    I have been a member of Treeleaf for around 18 months now. The first year was tremendously exciting, with much to learn, the novelty of online zazenkai and the excitement of Ango, Rohatsu and then Jukai. Now practice has become more mundane, settling into a routine, much the same as anything else does. Part of me yearns for the excitement of newness but, as Amelia said on another post, tides change and we need to learn to shift with them.

    One thing I have been noticing in myself recently is a tendency to look for encouragement on the forums, especially from Jundo or Taigu, and, conversely, become disheartened if the opposite happens. Is a sign of mature practice? I donít think so.

    One of the slogans of Tibetan lojong (mind training) practice is Donít Expect Applause. This means that our practice needs to be enough in and of itself and we should not expect friend, family or even teachers and sangha to congratulate us for sitting, chanting, attending zazenkai or participating in global service days. These are things we do because we feel drawn to, not for the expectation of a reward or approval. Do we expect kudos in life for paying our taxes, putting out our waste or driving safely? Does a flower seek gratitude for the scent of its blossom?

    A koan from Dogenís Shōbōgenzō Sambyakusoku comes to mind of a teacher visiting two hermits:

    Zhaozhou called on a hermit and said ďAre you there? Are you there?Ē
    The hermit held up his fist.
    Zhaozhou hit him.

    Later Zhazhou called on another hermit and said ďAre you there? Are you there?Ē
    The hermit held up his fist.
    Zhaozhou bowed.


    Is there a difference in the holding up of the fists or just in Zhaozhouís reaction? For me, this koan warns of becoming overly attached to the approval of a teacher and taking his or her reaction as all important. Of course, there is a good reason we work with a teacher as their experience and knowledge is greater than our own and we should rightly take account of their assessments. However, if we become dependent on that, and even seek out their approval, we miss the mark and fail to gain the confidence in our own practice.

    It is right that a student should seek out the help of a teacher when they need to and also for the teacher to step in when they feel a student needs putting right. However, once practice has gone beyond initial stages, we pretty much know what we are doing and just get on with it. Anxieties will doubtless arise but these usually fall away without needing to seek advice and learning to deal with those is part of practice itself. I do not know but imagine that even Zen teachers experience anxiety and self-doubt from time to time.

    So, back to the cushion and life as it is. The sun is shining and being alive is applause enough.

  2. #2
    Hello Andy,

    wise words! Thank you for sharing them with us.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    However, once practice has gone beyond initial stages, we pretty much know what we are doing and just get on with it.
    Huh? When does that ever happen? One is always a beginner. There is so much to learn an discover. And then there's nothing else to seek.

    I do understand your point. Sometimes here at home we talk about life stuff. Some issues make me sad like violence in the streets, for instance. My girlfriend says "Why don't you talk about this with Jundo or Taigu?"

    And then I know there's nothing to talk about. Things are what they are. So I just think about it for a bit and move on.

    Thank you, Andy.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  4. #4
    Kyotai
    Guest
    Thanks Andy. I had to take a pause and think about this, it often rings true for me as well. I often return to this zendo to regain a feeling or something outside myself. Looking for an indication that I am doing good, or to recharge that feeling if my ego has been kicked around. I remember that feeling when I first wrote to the sangha and got approved as a member.

    Now I sometimes am annoyed when my kids are causing chaos in the house and wish I could go to a quiet coffee shop, browse the forums and feel all present and such, and I am completely off the mark and missing the point.

    But through continued practice..the chaos at home, the quiet coffee shop, slowly becoming the same.

    Only rain here today.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  5. #5
    Thanks Andy. I want to write something about how nice and wise your words are ... but am I doing you a disservice by complimenting you?

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hello all

    Andy I approve of your post.

    This resonates with me. When I began last August I had lot's of questions. Now I have work to do. I think there is a danger of making this practice more about this forum than actual practice. I still have questions, and I do feel sharing and reading everyone's experiences are helpful. We all need encouragement I suppose, but there is a difference between encouragement and a pat on the back.

    Gassho
    C

  7. #7
    Mp
    Guest
    That is such a ... post!

    Thank you Andy! =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Redding California USA
    Thank you Andy

    Gassho


    Shugen
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  9. #9
    Actually, I was just watching a movie on the Transcendental Meditation movement (David Wants To Fly), and it features a professor who describes how a cult to flourish must keep promising new things, new experiences, new powers to be attained, in order to keep people to stick around (which is one reason, the movie posits, that the Maharashi kept coming up with ideas like teaching "Yogic Flying").

    That may be the main reason I have difficulty sometimes to keep people to stick around here ... because people are not clear on how to just be, to rest in wholeness, to be satisfied and still without need to chase after this next shiny thing or that new notch in their belt.

    I described this once in a talk ... which I ask everyone to listen to as the next thing ...

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: WHAT's NEXT!?!
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-s-NEXT%21-%21

    I guess I should start promising people that I will teach them yogic flying!



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-24-2014 at 02:13 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Thank you, Andy.

    Gassho
    Genshin

  11. #11
    Hello,

    If it's the first and only time an action is done it can't be mundane.

    Can't sit yesterday, won't sit tomorrow but present action is brand spanking new.

    Reading about tedium when a patient needs a diaper change (for the third/first time NOW). . . .

    Just sitting with the first time, every time. Priceless.


    Gassho,
    Myosha

    P.S. Forty-five years ago got into show business for the applause - all I got was the clap.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I guess I should start promising people that I will teach them yogic flying!


    Gassho, J
    lol.

    Gassho
    Bobby
    🙏🙏🙏

  13. #13
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thanks for your post and your honesty.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    That may be the main reason I have difficulty sometimes to keep people to stick around here ... because people are not clear on how to just be, to rest in wholeness, to be satisfied and still without need to chase after this next shiny thing or that new notch in their belt.
    Someone wrote me to ask if we are just practicing a kind of passivity and complacency. NOT AT ALL! Because from the still center point all things emerge and spin ... much as a dancer dances from a still and centered pivot point. Zazen and all of life is constantly changing and emerging, ever new and renewing ... and so are we (being just life ourselves) ... but to know this fact, one must know where to sit in stillness. These days (maybe always as it is just human nature) people find it very hard to just sit still and let all things just go, experiencing life with nothing more to add or take away, nothing more needed.

    Then, rising from the cushion ... busy with places to go, people to see, jobs to get done, bad habits to fix, weight to lose or any other goals ... one finds SIMULTANEOUSLY that there is no place in need of going even as we must go, no other separate people to see or be seen even as there are other people , nothing in need of repair even as we get out the tools and fix what needs fixing, nothing to gain or lose even as we lose some pounds etc. etc.

    But to know this magic, one must master "nothing to attain, sitting in wholeness" first.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-24-2014 at 08:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Joyo
    Guest
    This is beautiful, Jundo. I know, for me personally, this makes me want to stick around here, and commit to this practice for a long, long time

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  16. #16

  17. #17
    Only now found your post, Kokuu,
    thank you for sharing and interesting how we could have so similar thoughts.
    Be well & Gassho
    Myoku

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Thanks Andy. I want to write something about how nice and wise your words are ... but am I doing you a disservice by complimenting you?

    Gassho, Jundo
    I believe in Don't Expect Applause, but I also believe that when we DO get it, we should Appreciate It Greatly.

    Man is a social animal. We have an innate need to be seen, heard and validated. That doesn't go away once we start to sit. If we ignore that fact, then a piece of our practice is missing.

    I always enjoy Andy's posts. He always gives me something to think about, not just worn-out zen cliche's. So here's looking at you, kid.....

    Gassho,
    Lee

  19. #19
    There's nothing that I can add, other than my gratitude for this discussion. I find it very helpful.

    Gassho, Entai

    泰 Entai (Bill)
    "this is not a dress rehearsal"

  20. #20
    Thanks Andy for bringing up this very important point.



    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  21. #21
    Receiving praise feels just as squirmy as receiving blame, maybe even squirmier.

    Gassho Daizan

  22. #22
    Receiving praise feels just as squirmy as receiving blame, maybe even squirmier.

    Gassho Daizan
    Yes, I agree Daizan. Squirmier.

    Gassho,
    Lisa

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