after praise and blame

The blossom that opens in the morning
is scattered by the evening breeze,
and the dew, condensed in hours of darkness
before dawn, is dispelled by the rays of the morning sun.

Heedless or willfully ignorant of this
procession of changes, we dream of prosperity
all through life and, without understanding
the nature of transience, hope for longevity.

All the while, across the face of the earth
moves the restless wind of impermanence,
dissolving all that it touches.

— Hōnen (法然 1133-1212) (from Tumblr)

In email conversations with colleagues, we’ve been exploring the arising and fading of praise and blame (misunderstanding?  misperception?).  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because it will all go to ground and become something else.   Yet, despite this understanding of impermanence of praise and blame, it’s been fascinating to watch my own mind drawn one way then another through a garden that got more and  more tangled as the week progressed.

It is inevitable that anything which emerges into form immediately will be seized and split by the grasping mind.  Accomplishments and failures are great opportunities to observe this.  Thankfully, impermanence makes drifting petals of all of us – and everything – we grasp at.  And yet we cannot resist creating mental activities that drag us across the landscape of confusion, grasping and rejection.  I love this quote:

“Mara (delusion) provides the road, and the hungry ghosts show us the direction.”

Thich Nhat Hanh in Understanding Our Mind describes mind consciousness as the ground from which the three kinds of actions (karma) arise: actions of body, speech and mind.  Mind consciousness constantly evolves and from it arises two kinds of action: leading action draws us in one direction or another.  The second action is ripening action which is the process of cultivating wholesome or unwholesome seeds already in our store consciousness.

The store consciousness is often described as the earth – the garden where the seeds that give rise to flowers and fruits are sown.  The mind consciousness is the gardener, the one who sows, waters, and takes care of the earth…  Mind consciousness can submerge us in the hell realms or lead us to liberation, because both hell and liberation are the result of the ripening of their respective seeds.  Mind consciousness does the work of initiating, and it also does the work of ripening.

The gardener – mind consciousness – has to trust the earth, because it is the earth that brings forth the fruit of understanding and compassion.  The gardener also has to recognize and identify the positive seeds in the store consciousness, and practice day and night to water those seeds and help them grow.  The garden, store consciousness, nourishes and brings about the result.  The flower of awakening, understanding, and love is a gift from the garden.  The gardener only has to take good care of the garden in order for the flower to have a chance to grow.

Thank you for practicing,


One thought on “after praise and blame

  1. My hungry ghosts grab the ring in my nose and continuously jerk me in whatever direction they choose. Seriously.

    I continually have to watch for those crafty little guys, although I rarely seem them.

    No wonder I’m cross-eyed

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