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Checking our tendency to criticize

Criticism2At Goa Richard (now Radhanath Swami) travelled to Calangute Beach, a haven for Westerners and there he saw the same old scene of western society; rock and roll, men and women kissing, and drugs- the culture that Richard had left behind. Richard was uninterested and walked through the sand along the sea. Although the whole scene appeared alien to Richard now, he still struggled to check himself from criticizing those who sought bodily enjoyment. Richard prayed to be purified of this tendency to think superior to those engaged in bodily pleasures. Richard felt these thoughts were exposing his own arrogance and found it hard to overcome this tendency.

Radhanath Swami reveals that the tendency to criticize others springs from a deep rooted desire to feel superior to others. The root cause of this problem is our lack of interest in developing our dormant relationship with God. Since we are uninterested in God, we seek to compare and criticize others, a low activity that only titillates the senses for some time, but makes the heart bleed in pain.

Radhanath Swami often quotes an interesting story from the Mahabharata, an Indian classic and a magnum opus of struggle for royal power. The story reveals how once Krishna, the Supreme Lord met King Yudhistir and King Duryodhana and asked both of them a different task to do. He told Yudhistir to go out into the kingdom and return only after finding someone less qualified then himself. Lord Krishna then asked Duryodhana to go out and find at least one person more qualified than himself. Both returned unsuccessful. The story exposed Duryodhana’s pride and arrogance in thinking that he was better than all. The incident also reveals King Yudhistir’s humility and ability to see everyone as superior to himself. Through this incident the Lord is teaching us that the more we are closer to our original true, God conscious nature, the more we have humility and freedom from seeing faults in others. And the further we are from our original nature, the more we see faults in others. Richard during this phase of his life was seeking to come closer to his true nature and hence desperately wanted to get out of this tendency to see himself as superior to others. This is an inspiring incident which teaches us the need to struggle and abandon this vicious negativity within our hearts.

Besides our desire to feel superior to others, some other motivations for criticism are seeking revenge at someone who has hurt us, asserting our position or way as the best or only way, and avoiding a honest introspection of our own shortcomings. To accept our negative qualities calls upon courage and honesty. Richard did that during this episode at Goa and to the extent we can also accept our faults honestly, we also become dear to God. God then gives us the strength to overcome these negative forces.

Radhanath Swami assures that through constant prayers and steady spiritual practices we can overcome our impurities in general, and the tendency to find faults in particular.

Source: http://www.radhanath-swami.net/checking-our-tendency-to-criticize/checking-our-tendency-to-criticize

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