Critics and Criticism…
Once there was a painter who had just completed his course. He took 3 days and painted a beautiful scenery. He wanted people’s opinion about his caliber and painting skills.
He put his creation at a busy street-crossing, and just down below a board which read, “I have painted this piece. Since I’m new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. Please put a cross wherever you see a mistake.”
When he came back in the evening to collect his painting he was completely shattered to see that whole canvass was filled with Xs (crosses) and some people had even written their comments on the painting. Disheartened and broken completely he ran to his master’s place and burst into tears.
This young artist was breathing heavily and the Master heard him saying, “I’m useless and if this is what I have learnt to paint I’m not worth becoming a painter. People have rejected me completely. I feel like dying.”
The Master smiled and suggested, “My Son, I will prove that you are a great artist and have learnt flawless painting. Do as I say without questioning it. It will work.” The young artist reluctantly agreed and two days later early morning he presented a replica of his earlier painting to his Master. The Master took that gracefully and smiled. “Come with me”, the Master said.
They reached the same street-square early morning and displayed the same painting exactly at the same place. Now the Master took out another board which read, “Gentlemen, I have painted this piece. Since I’m new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. I have put a box with colors and brushes just below. Please do a favor. If you see a mistake, kindly pick up the brush and correct it.” The Master and the disciple walked back home.
They both visited the place the same evening. The young painter was surprised to see that actually there was not a single correction done so far. Next day again they visited and found the painting remained untouched. They say the painting was kept there for a month but no correction came in!
Moral of the story:
It is easier to criticize, but difficult to improve! So don’t get carried away or judge yourself by someone else’s criticism and feel depressed… Judge yourself! You are your best judge!
In a lighter vein, to quote Brendon Behan: “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They are there every night, they see it done every night, they see how it should be done every night,but they can’t do it themselves!!”
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian!! Think about it.”
In this world whatever we do — any amount of good we may do — there will always be some critics. However good one may be, one will still be criticized. No avataara-s (divine incarnations), saints, sages, masters, prophets and revolutionaries have ever been spared from criticism. Then how can we expect to be spared from criticism?
Take for example Prabhu Ramchandra-ji. He is known as “Maryaadaa Purusha” (the most righteous and just). Yet a lowly washer-man criticized him and he accepted it gracefully. As a king he could have exercised his power and freedom to react violently and had the washer-man beheaded. But he didn’t do any such thing. He accepted the criticism gracefully and acted upon it.
Compared to Prabhu Ramchandra-ji, Lord Krishna’s critics were many. But it didn’t affect his smile.
Lord Jesus always did only good for the benefit of the people. Yet he had his critics who put him through a very painful torture and death.
Great leaders and revolutionaries never bothered about critics and criticism. They left the stamp of their conviction on the history of time. Mahatma Gandhi had his share of critics who criticized his non-violent movement. There were some who even ridiculed his non-violent tactics. Yet it didn’t bother him and he got independence for India without firing a single bullet.
If you think you are what your friends and enemies say you are, you obviously do not know yourself at all.
When an elephant walks, hundreds of dogs line up on both sides of the road and bark at it. It doesn’t bother the elephant. As far as the elephant is concerned it might as well be a welcome party lined up on both side of the road giving a grand welcome in his honor!!
All of us can take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
Throughout the world we will find that statues have been erected in the honor of those who were criticized. Is there even one statue that has been erected to honor a critic?!
A spiritual Master said to a pioneering spirit who was discouraged by frequent criticism, “Listen to the words of the critic. He reveals what your friends hide from you.”
But he also said, “Do not be weighed down by what the critic says. No statue was ever erected to honor a critic. Statues are for the criticized.”
Who criticizes whom? People throw stones at a tree laden with fruits. Nobody throws stones at a barren tree. It is the critics’ need to criticize for their own benefit.
As an adhyaatmik saadhaka (spiritual seeker) one needs to take criticism in a positive way. Swami Chinmayananda has said, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.”
Yes, there is something called as constructive criticism. Perhaps the critic is pointing out some flaw in us, which we were not aware of or which we refuse to recognize even though it is there and hence are unable to transcend it. This hampers our progress.
There was once a Rabbi (Jewish teacher) who was revered by the people as a man of God. Not a day went by when a crowd of people wasn’t standing at his door seeking advice or healing or the holy man’s blessing. And each time the Rabbi spoke the people would hang on his lips, drinking in his every word.
There was, however, in the audience a disagreeable fellow who never missed a chance to contradict the Master. He would observe the Rabbi’s weaknesses and make fun of his defects to the dismay of the disciples who began to look on him as the devil incarnate.
Well, one day the “devil” took ill and died. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Outwardly they looked appropriately solemn but in their hearts they were glad for no longer would the Master’s inspiring talks be interrupted or his behavior criticized by this disrespectful heretic.
So the people were surprised to see the Master plunged in genuine grief at the funeral. When asked by a disciple later if he was mourning over the eternal fate of the dead man, he said, “No, no. Why should I mourn over our friend who is now in heaven? It was myself I was grieving. That man was the only friend I had. Here I am surrounded by people who revere me. He was the only one who challenged me. I fear that with him gone, I shall stop growing.” And as he said these words the Master burst into tears.
“Never let life’s hardships disturb you. After all, no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages. One is not necessarily the target of slander and criticism because one has done something wrong. On the contrary, even saints and sages are maligned and abused. Sometimes, people’s very greatness makes them the target of persecution. We shouldn’t let it worry or perturb us.” – Nichiren Daishonin
Do not worry about what others will think, they don’t do it very often anyway! The so called ‘others’ are equally worried about what ‘others’ will think!! What other people think of us is none of our business. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
The faculty of imagination is for creativity.
It should not be misused for worrying, especially of what others will think.
2 thoughts on “Critics and Criticism…”
Swamiji Hari Om
A very clear compilation of valuable points on how to deal with criticism and critics. Thank you Guruji.