Nice words of praise are devoid of mind

Nice words of praise are devoid of mind

We receive accolades, for instance, when we graduate. There are greeting cards that support our accomplishments.

“Congratulations dear graduate.” A mother gives birth to a son. Applause is in order. Society supports us in the belief that praise is an acknowledgement of our greatest triumphs. But what does society say when the graduate gets no job, or the mother’s son grows up to be an alcoholic?

The Holy Lama, Embodiment of Compassion, is direct in warning us against succumbing to the belief that praise from others matters.  He says, “Simply being praised is of no substantial help at all: it does not increase people’s good fortune, nor does it make them live any longer. If temporary pleasure is all you want, you might as well take drugs. Yet many people invest much money and even deceive their friends so as to win status. This is quite stupid. Their status and fame do not really help much in this life and do nothing for future lives. There is no point in being happy if we are famous or unhappy because people speak ill of us.”

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th in line of Dalai Lamas, who for more than three centuries governed Tibet, a peaceful, independent country, escaped from the Chinese takeover of his beloved Mother Land. 

Like so many thousands of other Tibetans who fled and continue to flee from what was meant to be the destruction of an entire people and their culture, he is now a refugee in India, a land he reveres as sacred.

Prior to the Chinese invasion, few people knew about Tibet. Now, the tragic story reverberates on all continents as His Holiness and followers bring the teachings of Buddha to incalculable masses.

Dalai Lama says, “Nice words of praise are devoid of mind: they have no wish to say good things about us. The good intentions other people have of praising us are their good intentions, not ours! If we are happy because others have pleasant things to say about us, then we should also be happy when they say the same about our enemies. We should treat everyone equally.”

This is the challenge that the Living Buddha faces—to treat the oppressors with the same compassion as their victims. In spite of the decades of verbal and emotional abuse, he still refers to all Chinese as his brothers and sisters.

He notes, “Praise, if you think about it, is actually a distraction. For example, in the beginning one may be a simple, humble monk, content with little.  Later on, people may say flattering things like,’ He’s a lama.’ And then one begins to feel a bit more proud and to become self-conscious about how one looks and behaves. Then the eight worldly preoccupations (gain or loss, pleasure or pain, praise or criticism, and fame or infamy) become stronger, do they not?  Praise is a distraction and destroys renunciation.”

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