Sunday, February 15, 2015

To Pounce or Not To Pounce: On Not Bringing Things to a Painful Point


Those cats in the gif are (mostly) just playing. If you look elsewhere, you'll find pictures and videos of these two cuddled up and friendly. Trust me, I'm a big fan of their blog so I know. 

But this kind of angry or even play-angry pouncing cat behavior is exactly what came to mind as I was reading up on this lojong teaching:
Don't bring things to a painful point.
On the surface, it's kind of a no-brainer. Why bring things to a painful point? The whole goal for my studying Buddhism is to ease away from the sometimes painful noise in my head, right? But then I started digging for commentary.

The first thing that stood out to me as relevant from Judy Lief's piece was a doozy: 
"We all have lots of faults, and it is easy to get caught up in dwelling on them. It is easy to see all the things that are wrong about everyone and everything else as well."
I'm completely guilty of focusing on my own faults, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Further, I a keen eye for the faults of others. I try not to be overly judgmental, but sometimes it's really hard to stop. We need to be able to judge safe or unsafe, useful or not useful, but it's easy to get into a habit of judging every little aspect of every little thing. Even more than baseball, I sometimes think judging others is the "Great American Passtime."

When Lief moves onto discuss the aim of this tenet, she does so succinctly:
"According to this slogan, instead of pouncing on people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we should be providing encouragement and support for their strengths."
I already do this to a certain extent. I've embraced a philosophy of management known as Strengths Based Leadership, but this teaching is making me think I need to expand that view beyond the workplace and even beyond my group of friends. This is going to take a serious amount of thinks, since I've yet to find a consistent way to draw the line between healthy judgement - I shouldn't walk down that dark alley alone at night with a $100 sticking out of my back pocket - and unhealthy judgement. However, I know one of my own strengths is perseverance, so I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

Lief's advice for practice is going to be hard, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try:
"Notice the quality of faultfinding, which can take place on a light level or on a more going-for-the-jugular scale. When you find yourself caught in this pattern, notice your motivation. When you have difficulty with a person, can you see beyond their faults? Can you find a positive potential to build on, even if it seems small?"
The next time I get caught in the rut of judging, I'll try to bring this idea to mind.

So, that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

No comments:

Post a Comment