To complain against people, gives you a good feeling. Criticising others, you feel you are higher; complaining about others, you feel you are better. It is very ego fulfilling.
And I am saying almost everybody does it. A few people do it out loud, a few people do it just within themselves, but the enjoyment is the same.
Only rarely are there people who don’t criticise, who don’t complain; those are the people who have dropped their egos. Then there is no point, why should you bother about it? It is none of your business, it no longer pays you.
Drop the ego
Hence my emphasis is: drop the ego. With the dropping of the ego, you will find almost a whole world disappearing. The whole world that was knit around the ego falls away completely, and you start seeing people in a new light. Perhaps the same person that you might have criticised in the same situation… you now feel a great compassion for, a great love, a deep desire to help. The same person and the same situation you would have complained against. Now your eyes are different; you see things differently. Perhaps you will see that in this situation there is nothing to complain about.
Your outlook will become more human, more friendly… a deep acceptance of people as they are. You know only some part of them; you don’t know their whole life. And it is not good to decide from a small fragment about the whole person. That small fragment may be absolutely fitting and right in the whole context.
But the situation is this: it is very easy to criticise. Ordinary criticism does not need much intelligence.
The story of the fool
I have often told a story of ‘The Fool’ by Turgenev.
In a village, a young man is very much disturbed because the whole village thinks he is an idiot. A wise man is passing through the village and the young man goes to him and says, “Help me! For 24 hours a day I am criticised; whatever I do I am criticised. If I don’t do anything, I am criticised. If I speak, I am criticised. If I don’t speak, I am criticised. I don’t know any way out.”
The wise man said, “Don’t be worried…” He whispered the secret in his ear, and told him, “After one month I will come back. Meet me then and tell me how things are going.”
The young man went to the marketplace and started working on the formula given by the wise man.
Somebody said, “What a beautiful sunset!”
And he said, “What is beautiful in it? Prove what is beautiful in it!”
The man who had said it was a beautiful sunset was shocked. It was a beautiful sunset, but what was the proof? Is there any evidence? Do you know what beauty is? Everybody knows, but nobody can prove it.
The man remained silent. Everybody started laughing.
And everybody said, “Strange, we used to think this man was an idiot. He is a great intellectual.”
This was the formula given by the old man: criticise anything; just roam about the village watching and when anybody says anything, does anything, criticise it. And particularly criticise things which are taken for granted and nobody questions.
After one month the old man came back. By that time the idiot had become a wise man. He touched the old man’s feet and he said, “You are great! That trick worked; now the whole village thinks I am a wise man. Criticism works.”
The old man said, “Just remember one thing: don’t assert anything from your side, so nobody can criticise you. Let them assert things; you just criticise. And always be aggressive, never be defensive. Attack, be aggressive, criticise each and everybody, and they will all worship you.”
Criticism is easy
It does not need much intelligence to criticise or to complain. And, cheaply, you become wise; cheaply, you become very intelligent.
The psychology behind it is that this is the simplest way, the cheapest way to prove that you are somebody special, that you know more. But in fact you are simply proving that you are the idiot from Turgenev’s story and nobody else.
Be humble in the world of wisdom. Before criticising anybody, look into the facts from all directions, from all angles, from all possible viewpoints, and you will be surprised: there is very little that can be criticised or complained about. And if you pay that much attention, then whatever you criticise will be accepted, and accepted with gratitude because it is not to fulfil your ego; it is just to help the other person on the path.
Authentic criticism needs compassion
Nobody is interested in praising anybody, in finding those qualities which everybody has. Nobody is ready to help those qualities grow; everybody is afraid—if all are growing, what about him? His whole concern is that his ego should go on becoming bigger, and the easier way is to criticise everybody, to complain against everything: Be negative, make negativity your very approach. And for this you don’t need intelligence, any idiot can do it. But to be really critical, one has to be very compassionate, very loving. And one has to be ready to devote time and energy and intelligence. Then it is not criticism, then it is not inimical, it is not antagonistic; it is a friendly suggestion, a sympathetic approach. Everyone should learn to be sympathetic. Your meditation should help you, not to criticise but to appreciate. And if you are intelligent enough, you can appreciate in such a way that whatever you wanted to criticise will be understood without being said.
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!