Praise and Blame


The magnetic field


Nyogen Roshi says Maezumi Roshi told him nothing is really hidden.  It seems some things are hidden to me in plain sight.  They are in my mental blind spot. That is the nature of delusion!

Anger is often like that for me.

Irritation, impatience, resentment and dissatisfaction are anger. Things aren’t how you want them to be, and you just don’t like it. Look carefully, that is anger. The point of recognizing anger isn’t to get bent out of shape about it, to suppress it, or to blame yourself for it. But if you don’t even recognize it, it owns you.

A most subtle manifestation of anger is praise and blame. This is important in all relationships, but particularly with those closest to you, including children.

Don’t get lost in the words. Sure you want to give feedback, express your vision of how things are with authentic and useful comments.

Acknowledging that something works and discouraging destructive efforts can be very compassionate and appropriate. Sharing the joy that arises in seeing someone succeed at a task, however big or small, can be the purest expression of love. If somebody does or says something clean and righteous, you can share in that moment by expressing your appreciation and gratitude with love.Of course children thrive on being acknowledged, respected, and understanding when they go it right. Appreciated. Loved.

And not only children of course.

Similarly, when witnessing injustice, or someone pursuing self-destructive behaviors, being loud and adamant is not anger, it is just saying what has to be said, and is also an expression of love. Children need that as well. They need to know how it works.

And not only children of course.

But it is that little (or not so little) something extra where the praise and blame I am referring to comes in. Where you manipulate and condition people, often for their “own good.” Unless it really IS for their own good, but how often is it for your agenda, not their edification or for sharing in the moment? That distinction can be as subtle as it gets. When you criticize watch for that little (or big) step beyond compassionate feedback to anger. To blaming and shaming. It wasn’t how you thought it SHOULD be. You don’t like it, it is really about you. And when you praise, it is that extra giddiness, that maybe just a bit too much enthusiasm, that implies you WOULD be angry if it didn’t go that way. And when making someone feel special is it a set up? Will they disappoint later if they don’t meet your standards? Are you grabbing the power to make them feel un-special? Is it that you want the person to be or do what you have in mind, what you want, to be part of your agenda?

You can’t have praise without blame separate any more than you can have a magnet with just either a north or south pole. No matter now small you cut a magnet, even to a proton (1/100,000 of an atom), there is always both a north and south pole.

Simple, not easy.



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