Blind spots - expectations
Good morning everyone! This is Dharma Espresso for today.
Today, we will talk about blind spots. Blind spots are what we cannot see. They exist, but we can’t see them. For example, when we drive, there are spots behind us on either side, which, if we don’t turn around to look, we cannot see them in our field of vision or in the rearview mirrors. These are blind spots. In our pupil, at the center where all the nerves grow out, there is also a blind spot; we can’t perceive the light at that place.
We have many blind spots in our lives. One of them is our expectation – our anticipation, hope, or desire. For example, it is amazing to see many people stand in line at 3 or 4 am waiting to buy the iPhone 7. A psychologist who was doing a survey asked a man there: “Why do you have to stand in line so early?” This person answered: “Oh, this phone is excellent. I have to get it. I am going to China next week. If I don’t buy one, my friends from China will laugh at me and say I am outdated. I have to show my friends that I'm keeping up with the trend.”
The psychologist asked a woman: “Why do you have to buy this?” She answered: “I like iPhone. I already have one, but I still save money to buy a new one each year when there’s a new release. No one made me buy them, but I like their functionality. I want to hold in my hand a beautiful iPhone that never breaks down like other phones.”
The psychologist then asked another person: “Why are you buying one? Why stand in line so early?” He answered: “Because my Mom wanted one and asked me to stand in line to get it for her. I love my Mom, so I am standing in line for her. I am not buying it for myself.”
You see how interesting it is? Each person has a different reason. The first one desires respect from his friends in China when he goes there. Here, his Chinese friends are the external pressure. He buys the phone not because he likes it, but because he is afraid of losing face. His expectation derives from the external pressure.
In the second case, there is an internal drive to fulfill the wish to have an excellent phone.
In the third case, the external pressure was the mother's desire for the new phone which prompts the son to comply. Why didn't he say “no”? It's because there is an internal pressure to be a good son. That is his blind spot. He respects and loves his parents, and this love creates the internal pressure.
These three cases show three kinds of blind spots. The first person doesn’t realize that others' expectations drove his action. He doesn't want to lose face. The second person doesn’t know that there is an internal force that pushes her to buy the phone. The third person doesn’t understand that the inner urge to be a good son and the external demand of the mother dictate his purchasing the phone.
These are the three scenarios that almost everyone will experience sometime. There’s also the fourth scenario. For example, a person is passing by, noticing a big sale, he/she wants to get the phone with the low price. There is no prior expectation or standing in line. There are no inner or outer forces that drive this person. He/she acts according to his/her desires at the moment, buying because of the low price and the ready cash, without considering the budget.
Hence, the blind spot is our ignorance of the inner pressure. Now, let's have another example. Some people claim: "Every morning with no problem, I get up and practice the 6 Hands." There are those who cannot motivate themselves; they would ask: "Would you practice with me?" These are the people who need to practice in a group. They rely on external pressure to cultivate. The ones who are self-motivated, rely on the inner force, like the expectation to become Buddha. This pressure drives them to practice.
For the people who go to the temple, sometimes we can see that they go because of the external force which is the scheduled events of the temple, and the internal drive, the wish to attain Buddhahood. Hence, this kind of expectation has two sides, the inner and outer, which drive our actions.
For instance, a woman said: “My ex-husband is sick, and he expects me to take care of him, but I'm not coming because I don’t want to.” She can say that because there is an inner strength that helps her to be unafraid of the ex-husband's pressure. She doesn't need approval from her ex-husband. Another woman would say: “If I don't help him, I would feel guilty and miserable, so I will have to come and help him.” This woman reacts under the external pressure from her ex-husband and public opinion. Fear of public opinion is an enormous pressure: the needs to look good in front of other people. It is a complicated picture.
In fact, it is all about where your expectations lie. Therefore, when you cultivate, you have to know what type of person you are, whether your hope comes from internal or external forces. Once you know, you can make changes. How should you change? If something is based on a truth, then you should follow it even without the external pressure. Such as being vegetarian, you know it is the right thing to do, but do not expect that you will ever be one because you don't like vegetarian food. However, once you understand the principle behind the concept, you might change your mind. You will not care about savoring the food (which is a pressure to have tasty food), but instead, you will eat according to your principle or your belief. To change is difficult because we have hidden, rooted karmic debts in our being.
The most critical point in this talk is for us to know what type we are. Are we the type to wait for external pressure before we take action, or for the internal pressure, or perhaps we wait for the pressure from both sides? Maybe we are the type to follow our interests – if we feel like it, then we take action; if we don't, then nothing will happen; if we feel like practice, then we cultivate; otherwise, we won't. To which type do we belong? When we know for sure, then we will practice listening to the truth. This is the first lesson so far; I will go more in-depth later on.
That’s it for today. I wish you a happy and invigorating day.
Dharma Master Heng Chang
(Translated and transcribed by Compassionate Service Society)