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What are the scriptural references to working with praise and blame from the Pali Canon?

I am specifically looking for answers with

  • Explanations on the significance of praise and blame, and how they relate to each other.
  • Stories on how to work with praise and blame.

Examples from outside the Pali Canon are also welcome (other traditions, or non-scriptural), but preference will be given to answers that match the above.

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What are the scriptural references to working with praise and blame from the Pali Canon?

Due to space, I'll answer with some excerpts but bear in mind that the full texts should be read for a better understanding:

(1) Bhikkhus, when an uninstructed worldling meets with gain, he does not reflect thus: ‘This gain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He does not understand it as it really is. (2) When he meets with loss … (3) … fame … (4) … disrepute … (5) … blame … (6) … praise … (7) … pleasure … (8) … pain, he does not reflect thus: ‘This pain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He does not understand it as it really is.

“Gain obsesses his mind, and loss obsesses his mind. Fame obsesses his mind, and disrepute obsesses his mind. Blame obsesses his mind, and praise obsesses his mind. Pleasure obsesses his mind, and pain obsesses his mind. He is attracted to gain and repelled by loss. He is attracted to fame and repelled by disrepute. He is attracted to praise and repelled by blame. He is attracted to pleasure and repelled by pain. Thus involved with attraction and repulsion, he is not freed from birth, from old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish; he is not freed from suffering, I say.

“But, bhikkhus, (1) when an instructed noble disciple meets with gain, he reflects thus: ‘This gain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He thus understands it as it really is. (2) When he meets with loss … (3) … fame … (4) … disrepute … (5) … blame … (6) … praise … (7) … pleasure … (8) … pain, he reflects thus: ‘This pain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He thus understands it as it really is.

“Gain does not obsess his mind, and loss does not obsess his mind. Fame does not obsess his mind, and disrepute does not obsess his mind. Blame does not obsess his mind, and praise does not obsess his mind. Pleasure does not obsess his mind, and pain does not obsess his mind. He is not attracted to gain or repelled by loss. He is not attracted to fame or repelled by disrepute. He is not attracted to praise or repelled by blame. He is not attracted to pleasure or repelled by pain. Having thus discarded attraction and repulsion, he is freed from birth, from old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish; he is freed from suffering, I say.

“This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between an instructed noble disciple and an uninstructed worldling.”

-AN 8.6, Worldly Principles (2)


"'It's through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said?

"There is the case where a person, suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, does not reflect: 'That's how it is when living together in the world. That's how it is when gaining a personal identity. When there is living in the world, when there is the gaining of a personal identity, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions: gain, loss, status, disgrace, blame, praise, pleasure, & pain.' Suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, he sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. And then there is the case where a person, suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, reflects: 'That's how it is when living together in the world. That's how it is when gaining a personal identity. When there is living in the world, when there is the gaining of a personal identity, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions: gain, loss, status, disgrace, blame, praise, pleasure, & pain.' Suffering loss of relatives, loss of wealth, or loss through disease, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught.

"'It's through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning': Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

-AN 4.192, Traits


Gain and loss, disrepute and fame,
blame and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions that people meet
are impermanent, transient, and subject to change.

A wise and mindful person knows them
and sees that they are subject to change.
Desirable conditions don’t excite his mind
nor is he repelled by undesirable conditions.

He has dispelled attraction and repulsion;
they are gone and no longer present.
Having known the dustless, sorrowless state,
he understands rightly and has transcended existence.

-AN 8.5, Worldly Principles (1)


Not to gain or loss
not to status or honor,
not to praise or blame,
not to pleasure or pain:
      everywhere
they do not adhere —
     like a water bead
     on a lotus.
     Everywhere
they are happy, the enlightened,
everywhere
un-defeated.

-Thag 14.2, Godatta


He whose doctrine is [judged as] demolished,
     defeated, by those judging the issue:
He laments, he grieves — the inferior exponent.
     "He beat me," he mourns.

These disputes have arisen among contemplatives.
     In them are elation, dejection.
Seeing this, one should abstain from disputes,
     for they have no other goal
     than the gaining of praise.

He who is praised there
     for expounding his doctrine
     in the midst of the assembly,
laughs on that account & grows haughty,
     attaining his heart's desire.

-Sn 4.8, To Pasura


As a single slab of rock
won't budge in the wind,
so the wise are not moved
     by praise,
     by blame.

-Dhp 81

  • Your quotes are being converted to code coloring - use the greater-than sign for quotations – yuttadhammo Aug 21 '14 at 22:45
  • Do you mean the difference between the references in code and ones in quotes? I used the first two in quotes since they are in prose and don't require special spacing. The last four was in code because they are in verse and do require spacing. With code, one can preserve the spacings. Or do you mean something else? – Unrul3r Aug 21 '14 at 23:04
  • no, the colouring is only on my mobile I think; it looks okay on desktop. You can also use br for quotes, but Thanissaro's spacing is more difficult; nbsp would work I think. – yuttadhammo Aug 22 '14 at 12:12
  • Indeed. I remembered about character entities only after I had already made this answer. I'll be using them within quotes in future versed references I give. – Unrul3r Aug 22 '14 at 12:40
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I think a good way to address that is by tracing back paise and blame, checking were they come from, think about the 2nd noble truth, you will clearly see both come from attachment to reputation.

So, instead of fighting praise and blaime it will be more effective to put some effort on solving the root causes of them, your ego, your desire for a good reputation, for hearing praising words.

If you let go of your ego, you will immeditatly let go of all suffering caused by blame, I know this is not an easy thing to do, that is why we call it a path, you need to make effort, it takes time, but this is the right way. Mahayanas will focus on emptiness as a way to realizing that, Theravadins will have other nice ways of dealing with it like analysing Anatta for example, but at the end of the day it all comes down to attachment to reputation and the "ignorance" we have that creates such attachments.

  • Thanks for the answer. This question is more related to references (to help in teaching) than advice (to me), and the teachings available for discovering where we hold on to the fear of blame and the desire for praise. I read a book by Pema Chodron a few years ago, with wonderful advice on methods working with praise/blame (and the other three pairs, don't recall in writing) - so I wonder whether there are places to find in any of the traditions, to work with these challenges. – FullPeace.org Aug 21 '14 at 6:00
  • Hi, I tried to touch that in the a answer (emptiness for mahayana and anatta for theravada are the key words), but I'm not sure about methods, based on the books I have read from theravadas they usualy focus on studying suttas and meditating about it, it is different from Pema's approach, you will probably not find a sutta in her books, her books are more open to the public in general, easier to digest, I believe both approachs are good and can work, it depends on the reader, each one has a style. Im sure more answers will pop up :) – konrad01 Aug 21 '14 at 11:40
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Simple, Krishna in Bhagavat Gita says "Do your work,Do not expect the results".When you are very much mindfully doing a work you would not worry about the results.When you do not worry about the results there won't be any expectations.Normally if you have done a very good job,you would expect an apppreciation(or recogonition).Praise come to picture here.When you have screwed up,then you would try to escape from the blame or try to make things up.The answer is simple.To be in peace with the work you are doing at the present.So that you would not care whether you are praised or blamed.You would be peacefully that you have mindfully enjoy

  • This answer looks like it's from the Hindu perspective rather than Buddhist. I won't vote down just yet but maybe the answerer could refocus the question from a Buddhist perspective – Crab Bucket Aug 22 '14 at 17:01
  • Since in Buddhism.SE, the expectation was answers from Buddhist perspectives. Also, asking from references from the Pali Canon should have made that clear. Furthermore, the reasons behind asking is not to discover where praise/blame are held onto, but instead what teachings are available to further any work and deepen understanding - still from a Buddhist methodology. – FullPeace.org Aug 23 '14 at 11:13
  • Sorry down voting. I don't believe this is from a Buddhist perspective – Crab Bucket Aug 23 '14 at 16:13
  • Cool!! I posted this just to add some clarity to your understanding.I accept that was not from a Buddhist perspective and thought would have been helpful.Cheers! – Sivaguru Srinivas Aug 24 '14 at 13:05

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