Sunday, June 8, 2008

Don't expect applause

It's getting busy around the center, as they prepare for Rinpoche's visit. That means more dirty dishes, and although doing them is not my assigned task, I figure it's better to do them so that we can, you know, eat.

Well, people see me doing them, and assume that it must be my job. I sometimes get a cursory "need any help?" while they scurry off without waiting for an answer. Don't get me wrong -- everyone here is wonderful, and probably better than I'll ever be, but after talking to many people about the Buddhist community, it's interesting to learn that Buddhism is just like any other pursuit: people learn the basics, get some medals and emblems, and then pride themselves on being better than everyone else.

So it's fun to take a different approach: trying to figure out exactly what I'm getting myself into here, and learning it whether it's easy or not. It's hard as hell (not the meditation -- that part is fun and easy), but boy is it rewarding. As an example, here are two different suggestions from two separate masters. I call them "suggestions" because there are no commandments, but you'd be hard pressed to call yourself a Buddhist without trying to incorporate these.

* Don't expect applause

Bodhisattva vow #16

Even if a person for whom you've cared
Like your own child regards you as an enemy,
Cherish him specially, like a mother
Does her child who is stricken by sickness -
This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.

This has nothing to do with being meek so you can reap rewards later, or allowing yourself to be stepped on because you are worthless or undeserving. That's closer to the territory of the "lower" Buddhist vehicle. In contrast, in the Bodhisattva path, you are expected to realize that such philosophy is the only way to shed the adamantine panoply of ego that you think is keeping you safe.

Acting any other way is like a turtle retreating into his shell. The main difference between a saint and your average chump sobbing about being used is expectation. There's far too much to be done to waste time waiting for applause, to worry about being liked or appreciated, to drown in regret, or simmer over others' faults.

Oh, and one can't forget the key point in becoming a Bodhisattva:

A sense of humor!

Lest any of you nutters expect any such behavior from the likes of me, rest assured I harbor no such delusions. I am still as useless as ever!

1 comment:

Bianca Renee Abate said...

the Janinator! our house bitch is cleaning someone else's dishes now? nooo!

haha, love you!