Fame and Fortune for the Anonymous

To honor his student for having achieved the highest level of accomplishment, the Zen Master gave his follower the name Mui or “No Rank.”

In the Rinzai lineage that name is an honor that is not bestowed lightly.  The abbot who gave it was moved by Mui’s simplicity and humility, his lack of interest in titles and his fundamental desire to  “just serve.”

I’ve been thinking about the idea of Mui’s disinterest in achievement and recognition.  I wonder about the impact of not having a title or position in our society  — or even among friends and family for that matter.  What is it like to just going about the day-to-day business life, just being who you are?  What happens when we give up the daily (weekly, quarterly, annual) goals and milestones and “just” serve others…. how and whenever the opportunity presents itself?

Could I really go to my dojo and ask them to stop keeping track of my practice hours toward the next kyu test?  Would I be satisfied with the opportunity to just go to the dojo and practice without testing?  Or, when I post my next blog entry, could I manage not to check and see how many readers have visited and what comments they’ve shared?  Would the family view me as “plain vanilla Gramps”?  Would I be bored, dismissed  or viewed as another senior citizen just ‘running out the string?  Or would I be stepping toward the epitome of a committed life?

I think being Mui takes a sort of fearlessness.

In an odd way, it’s like the process of retiring from a career and beginning to sort out who we “are” without a title – that shorthand-context-resume we hand over to others upon meeting.

Perhaps what surfaces are the truths of who we are.

I don’t mean something dramatic.  Revealing “self” without explanation is very simple.  Simple but not easy.  It requires the fearless abandon of the one who writes a book without a publisher or a prize in mind.  Or one who chooses to “not drink and go to a meeting” today.  One who comes to the mat, day after day, without the next belt on the brain.  One who “strives” for “No Rank.”

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One Response to “Fame and Fortune for the Anonymous”

  1. kaitonydavid@gmail.com Says:

    I tested when asked and accepted promotions when given. I trust the process. My ego can be so tricky… I am practicing being one among many. Humility is accepting the process and being a student in the question everyday… every class.
    Thanks for the thought provoking writing. I miss you. We still have “Larry moments” at our dojo.
    fondly,
    Mary

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