December 2018 | Prisoner of Blame & Praise?


I've spent the last week in the presence of my teacher and role model, Master Ou Wen Wei. He teaches by example and this way of teaching invites and encourages his students to understand how to improve and evolve on their own, through communication and guidance from the heart. As we understand ourselves under his expansive wings of love and affection, we naturally recognize what we need to change and how we can reach our goal.

What I've been willing to understand within myself is the difference between seeking acknowledgment, needing approval and trying to appease, and genuinely wanting to give, help, serve and share with others with full devotion and dedication; the difference between reacting to others' negative feelings or intentions towards me, and being able to ignore, overlook them or not see them at all; the difference between protecting or shielding myself to be safe, and opening my heart to everyone without worrying about what I may lose, only seeing the advantage and the goodness in each interaction and in each person.

"Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.” ~ Buddha

It’s human for us to be stalled by the criticism of others and intoxicated by the fragrance of praise. However, the thing about listening too closely to blame is that we become a prisoner to it, feeling the need to correct ourselves until we have approval and acceptance. And the thing about exaggerated praise is that we also become prisoner to the need to maintain the sudden regard we are bathed in. Whether we act out of a need for approval or react to the withholding of approval, neither is life-giving and both are eventually draining.  What if we could be like a giant tree amidst it all?  What if in any matter I can naturally and freely acknowledge and be responsible for my part in it? And when I know in my heart I have done my best, to be able to let go.  In doing so, we find a balance between the need to control the life around us through action, and the need to trust the path,  slipping into the river of life. 


These patterns are conditioned within us and often deeply rooted. It takes time to realize the difference, to modify ourselves; it takes patience. Sometimes we don't see the depth of change we had hoped for immediately, but if we stay with it, day by day, step by step, those small accomplishments eventually surprise us with a lasting transformation. And though sometimes in the moment we can feel trapped in our current reality and negative emotions, we must remember it is one moment, one setback, one little whirlpool in a long river of life. Seeing our mistakes, our misunderstandings, our weaknesses and correcting them doesn't have to be painful. We can be the giant tree, withstanding the winds of praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow. It is and can be a golden key in creating freedom for ourselves, from our past and present burdens. All the while, our limbs and leaves go every which way, branching out farther into the world of relationships and connections with an ease and adaptability that can only exist from spreading roots steadily into the ground of understanding ourselves.

Love for the journey,