Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Danger of Excellence

Yesterday, Elephant Journal surprised me by including me in its list of 'Best Female Buddhist Bloggers of 2009'. Of course I delight in this honor. I also can't help but wonder about the juxtaposition of the two words 'best' and 'Buddhist'. Seems to me like an oxymoron, similar to the claim made of Tibetan monk Matthieu Ricard as 'happiest man in the world'. Nothing can escape our competitive culture, not even its antithesis, the Buddhist path.

The real question, when bestowed such an honor, is what to do with it? Again, mindfulness becomes of the utmost importance, as in paying attention to the ego's reaction. Do I identify with the idea of being one of best female Buddhist bloggers in America, or do I renounce that identification, which is after all, very relative and temporary?  If I choose the latter route, I will, as Ayya Khema explains in her talk about renunciation, keep my ego in check and unencumbered by spurious associations:
To renounce this identification is a very important step: only if one stands alone can one actually practice the path. That doesn't mean one has to throw everyone out of one's house. but as long as one is dependent upon what somebody else says, thinks or does, how can one practice for one's own freedom? Without this identification the ego returns to its normal size, just one 'me' and that's all. it doesn't mean that the ego has been eliminated, but it has become more manageable again. One body, one mind, without owning or identifying with a  whole lot of people and things. 
And last but not least, congratulations to the other sisters on the list, many of whom I discovered during a  search for '15 Great Women Buddhist Blogs', a few weeks ago.


  1. What a wonderful way to view this and I believe it's truly in the spirit of mindfulness that we are able to keep the ego in check.

    Of course, it's more about observing than keeping it in check, right? It's about noticing, feeling and accepting your thoughts in a non-judgemental way that helps with this process.

    Having said that above, congratulations!!

  2. Hey Marguerite! That's a great call-out and it's the sort of thing that's also helpful to peeps looking for a virtual sangha so even though, yeah, the ego starts to get all jittery (when doesn't it?), but there's a side to this that's helpful to others, and that's also good.

  3. Thanks Nate! I see this whole business of the ego both as an internal and external process. Doing inner work of awareness, and translating it into right speech, right action, etc . . . Love your blog by the way!

  4. Cass (seecat), how nice to see your name on this blog! For a moment, I got transported back to my green days at La Marguerite blog, where you were one of my first visitors . . . I cannot say enough about the virtues of a virtual sangha, both in the blogoshere, and on Twitter. And of course, the virtual world is no different from the physical world. Same ego traps, same cast of characters, same joys, same relationship challenges . . .