Don't Expect Applause

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  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6785

    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.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    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 don’t think so.

    One of the slogans of Tibetan lojong (mind training) practice is Don’t 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 Dogen’s Shōbōgenzō Sambyakusoku comes to mind of a teacher visiting two hermits:

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

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


    Is there a difference in the holding up of the fists or just in Zhaozhou’s 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.
  • Hans
    Member
    • Mar 2007
    • 1853

    #2
    Hello Andy,

    wise words! Thank you for sharing them with us.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

    Comment

    • Kyonin
      Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
      • Oct 2010
      • 6742

      #3
      Originally posted by Kokuu
      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

      Comment

      • Kyotai

        #4
        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

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39454

          #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

          Comment

          • Ishin
            Member
            • Jul 2013
            • 1359

            #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
            Grateful for your practice

            Comment

            • Mp

              #7
              That is such a ... post!

              Thank you Andy! =)

              Gassho
              Shingen

              Comment

              • Shugen
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Nov 2007
                • 4535

                #8
                Thank you Andy

                Gassho


                Shugen
                Meido Shugen
                明道 修眼

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39454

                  #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!?!
                  Almost each week someone asks me, "What comes next in my practice? How do I deepen it? What should I do now? What book should I read with all the secrets? I feel like something is still missing and that I must do more." But how can I respond to such a question when the very heart of this Path is learning to live and


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



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

                  Comment

                  • Genshin
                    Member
                    • Jan 2013
                    • 467

                    #10
                    Thank you, Andy.

                    Gassho
                    Genshin

                    Comment

                    • Myosha
                      Member
                      • Mar 2013
                      • 2974

                      #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?"

                      Comment

                      • Guest

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Jundo

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


                        Gassho, J
                        lol.

                        Gassho
                        Bobby

                        Comment

                        • Joyo

                          #13
                          Thanks for your post and your honesty.

                          Gassho,
                          Joyo

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39454

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Jundo

                            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, 08:50 AM.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Joyo

                              #15
                              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

                              Comment

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