05 November 2012

Of a Nature to (Be) Disappoint(ed)

In a recent teisho on the Three Treasures, the comment was made that taking refuge in Buddha should not be construed as taking refuge in the teacher.  Teachers, as was pointed out, are human beings, and human beings are of a nature to disappoint.  Friends and acquaintances, lovers and spouses, bosses and co-workers and employees, students and teachers, neighbors and kin, have in the past and will in the future disappoint.  If it's refuge we're seeking, our fellow humans are not the place to find it.

I think there's truth enough in that, and I would certainly concur that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are not of a nature to disappoint.  But I have to wonder if there isn't something else to be said coming at it from the other side.  It's one thing to say, "So-and-so disappointed me;" it's another to say, "I was disappointed in so-and-so."  In the first case, the issue is the other person and their failure to live up to standards; in the second, the issue is my standards, which may or may not be fair, attainable, etc.

Over the course of the last few months I have found myself confronting disappointment in connection with others in my life.  Students who don't participate in class, co-workers who don't pull their share of the load,  partners in relationships who don't dance to the tune I should like to play, etc.  Maybe there's room for disappointment in the case of the students, where the name of the game is that I evaluate their performance, but in the other cases?  The universe isn't broken because it fails to live up to expectations.  People aren't deficient because they fail to pass my standards. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. It was exactly what I needed to hear to get unstuck from my current frame of mind. It is a delight to have found this blog and to once again be learning from (with) you.

    Mia (Cabibbo) Croyle