The first appraisal is the way we feel about ourselves and how we’re doing. The second appraisal is when we don’t like what’s happening in ourselves so we judge others. Sokuzan talks about working with the reaction of appraisal so we see what it really is.
When swamped by a difficult feeling, there is a tendency to label it or jump to a story about it or blame something or someone to get out of that feeling. This covers up the basic situation. Your sitting practice will strengthen your ability to just be with the feeling and help you see what it really is.
Sandokai is a poem by the eighth Chinese Zen ancestor Sekito Kisen (Shitou Xiqian). It is a fundamental text of the Sōtō school of Zen, and has been chanted in morning services at SokukoJi. Sokuzan teaches from this sutra in today’s dharma talk.
Sokuzan sometimes uses the word “meddle” in his teachings. “Don’t meddle with what arises in mind based on your misunderstandings.” So how do we relate to someone we’ve given permission to be our teacher when it feels like meddling?
Sokuzan teaches the post meditation practice of using what he calls “Reset Buttons” like the phrase “Thank you very much, I have no complaints whatsoever!”, said aloud or to yourself, perhaps with a bow, as a way to interrupt the momentum of negativity and bring some awareness to a difficult situation.