Growing even from criticism

enlight's picture

Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

Someone has recently commented here that we can develop from anything that happens to us, including from things that are colored as bad. I agree.

This reminded me of an excellent assignment I was once been given by a spiritual teacher I used to meet in a group. I am practicing it again in recent days and it does wonders. It goes as follows:

During the day, criticism towards others is rising in our mind constantly: fellow drivers that do not follow the rules, people around us that appear to us as behaving in a selfish way, a friend who is late to a meeting with us, our spouse that neglects his/her household duties, our child that behaves in an irresponsible way.

There are 2 rules for this assignment:

(1) You are allowed to flow freely with a certain criticism about something done by someone else only after you double check and are 100% sure that it is something that you yourself never do. For example, you can allow yourself to get angry with a driver violating a traffic rule only if you hardly ever violating the rules. You can criticize a neighbor who has not collected his/her dog's poo only if you are strict in collecting your dog's poo even when there is no one around during the night, you can flow with your criticism about your spouse being absent minded and reckless lately only if you make all effort all time to be present and aware, you can feel mad at a coworker not delivering his/her report on time only if you happen to be one who respects deadlines.

(2) No self criticism.

The exercise does miracles in our automatic negative reaction patterns far beyond the obvious conclusions that it easier for us to spot the very same faults in others than in ourselves, that we usually criticize someone else not purely because what he/she actually did, and that it is more us than him/her that lies in the core of the criticism.

nathan's picture

A pot calling the kettle black

Criticism while being aware can serve as a powerful aid for spiritual development.

It is usually the case of "A pot calling the kettle black" or in Hebrew "הפוסל במומו פוסל".

I have just checked something I was wondering for ages: why exactly this phrase implies criticizing someone else of a fault I myself have. I found 2 beautiful alternative explanations:

* In former times cast iron pots and kettles were quickly blackened from the soot of the fire. The pot would then be hypocritical to insult the kettle's color, since both are black with soot.

* While the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has, rather than one that they share.

nathan | Sat, 12/13/2008 - 15:07
divine intervention's picture

being sincere

When you are truly sincere with yourself you find out that always the reason for your criticism in the other's behavior is something you are used to do yourself. :-)

This local realization when inspecting every incident in real time diminishes the energy that fuels the criticism - an energy which is based on "I am OK, he is not".

This is a nice exercise.

divine intervention | Tue, 12/16/2008 - 14:33
Phroggy's picture


Most often, but there is a difference between constructive criticism and judgment. If I were to tell you that you have big ears and I don't, (hehe) that would be true of you and not of me, but if I'm not making a judgment, why would I care to say it? If you are wondering why your hat doesn't fit your head, then it would be constructive criticism for me to inform you of the difficulty. Any perceived insult would be coming from your self judgment rather than from me.

Phroggy | Tue, 12/16/2008 - 19:31
enlight's picture

self criticism

Some additions about self criticism since:

Self criticism one of the most painful emotions.

There are researches who think that self criticism promotes cancer. Like in cancer on the physical plane, one attacks himself in the mental plane.

Self criticism is usually a product of guilt - society's main tool for controlling the masses.

enlight | Mon, 08/10/2009 - 17:47
Phroggy's picture

Yes. Body and mind are one.

Yes. Body and mind are one. If nothing else is accomplished in this lifetime, get beyond the self judgment at all cost, by whatever means necessary. Self acceptance and becoming conscious so as to remove unconscious response in the mind/body is something almost everyone should be doing now, and chances are it will be required before there is any real chance of Awakening to the Self.

Phroggy | Mon, 08/10/2009 - 22:21
Omkaradatta's picture

Funny :-)

"Body and mind are one. If nothing else is accomplished in this lifetime, get beyond the self judgment at all cost, by whatever means necessary. Self acceptance and becoming conscious so as to remove unconscious response in the mind/body is something almost everyone should be doing now,"

Thought can be so entertaining ;-).

The notion "everyone should be doing this" (emphasis on 'should') is a judgment about getting beyond self-judgment.

Round and round the thoughts go...

Omkaradatta | Tue, 08/11/2009 - 06:12
Phroggy's picture

Perhaps for you it's a

Perhaps for you it's a judgment. A little discernment might clear that up. :)~

Phroggy | Tue, 08/11/2009 - 07:24
Omkaradatta's picture

One attempts...

One attempts to escape suffering by splitting off into a 'me' and an 'it' (or a 'you'). There is then the feeling that it can be controlled.

It's a vicious cycle, that is broken only by its own dissolution.

One is the suffering one was trying to escape.

There is nowhere to go to get away from it... there is only now.

The end of all attempts to 'get elsewhere', to change (via having a position from which to 'remain the same' to do so) is the end of suffering.

Omkaradatta | Wed, 08/12/2009 - 08:43
solo's picture

you are confusing different realities

You are misunderstanding oneness and draw erroneous neo advaitan conclusions.

In non-absolute reality there is a split and this is what you have in that form reality in which your consciousness is. What you suggest is invalid in the relative reality and leads to suppression and avoidance and more pain and suffering.

You can only start at the point you are right now, by fact, not from an imaginary wishful absolute point of oneness.

I recommend you to read seriously . It will clear a lot of your confusions.

solo | Wed, 08/12/2009 - 08:52
Phroggy's picture

"One attempts to escape

"One attempts to escape suffering by splitting off into a 'me' and an 'it' (or a 'you'). There is then the feeling that it can be controlled."

So if you're aware of it, why does it continue?
In the event that you really think you're talking about me, no, I'm not trying to escape suffering by recommending that others do this work. Rather, i recomend it because I've done the work and see the importance of it.

Have you ever recommended something because you see it's potential in removing ignorance, or have you always done this to avoid suffering?

Phroggy | Wed, 08/12/2009 - 21:50
solomon's picture

I agree 100%

You are so right about the necessity and urgency of this acceptance.

solomon | Tue, 08/11/2009 - 07:37
kain's picture

I see real torture every day - shall I open my mouth . . ?

I happen to be in a position making
me seeing people raping , torturing, over-killing each day.
We live in the middle of a hunting Area.

It's something I would never do.

Am I allowed to critizise

Am I allowed to do that ferocisly

My wife ( on the photo) says Yes,
we should even spend everything we have to fight it

Kain, . . the innocent

kain | Mon, 09/28/2009 - 08:54
banana's picture

Accept but still act, if you can and want

I don't see any pic of wife, never mind. :-)

Anyway, such awful deeds in the French Riviera? That wasn't my impression 2 years ago when I visited the area.

Can you be more specific about the context you see this stuff and the resulting feelings?

In short I would say what I Eckhart Tolle responded to a questionnaire: If you can and want to change the situation then act. Otherwise pack your belongings and move from there. In case none of these options is possible, accept the situation as it is. In such a case, by definition you have no choice other than to accept because mentally fighting it is for vain and only creates suffering. Again, remember that acceptance does not mean to be passive and numb, if you can act.

banana | Mon, 09/28/2009 - 09:14
kain's picture

Since my wife said : They kill the hunters from 35 years ago - I

Since my wife said :
Since my wife said : They kill the hunters from 35 years ago -
when you were screaming : DIE DIE
They are doing that now

Thanks for your concern

You seem to follow/read Tolle
A Lady here said that he also said : Karma is finished
in this century - Seems so silly
True : Y/N

kain | Mon, 09/28/2009 - 15:12
Surya Kumar Mishra's picture

critisims: what is this: does growth depend on criticism

criticism should be treated as an expression of thought.
thought is the output of a vibration of the mind.
anything which is not static is illusion.
so criticism is to be trtated as an illusion.

in vedic scriptures, one of the injunction is " Treat praise and disparage as one and the same". God loves such people.

Growth is completely different
criticism does not play a distracting factor towards growth.
determined peole grow in all aspects

Surya Kumar Mishra | Sun, 05/08/2011 - 05:08
Elijah_NatureBoy's picture

Another Way Of Saying It!

Another way of saying it is we criticize in others what we do ourselves. If you have ever gone to most Protestant churches and heard a preacher ranting and raving about something, follow them and you will see they are hiding behind being critical of others.

Now that I'm in my finial incarnation on earth and find myself critical of the US government, as I seek the cause I find my heart saying you were Obama, that's why you see just how corrupt he is as president. That's why you are willing to replace him as president and correct his constitutional mistakes.

Just my thoughts I felt led to shared.

--Elijah "NatureBoy"-- Presenting SEEDS OF LIFE @

Elijah_NatureBoy | Fri, 12/23/2011 - 15:19