Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

A comment on "Why we shouldn't say bad things of other centres"

November 23, 2015 0

Rinpoche has always told us that the key to world peace is inner peace. Inner peace which is free from the burning anger, burning desire, burning greed, burning ego which leads us to do hurtful, harmful things like wage wars, engage in deforestation, pollute the waterways, mechanise the farming and killing process to maximise profits…

If you examine your mind carefully, you are not at peace. Much of the time our minds are preoccupied, and in fact our minds are usually preoccupied with criticising something. Whether big or small, there is always something for us to be dissatisfied about and when we are always dissatisfied, are we truly at peace?

“This food is not tasty enough”, “The traffic is not moving fast enough”, “The person is not speaking loudly enough”, “The politicians are not smart enough”… if we were to free our minds from this criticism and instead spend that energy on something new, something different, something positive – how much more would we be able to accomplish?


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1) Rinpoche writing “‘high’ monks, lamas” gave me pause to think. At the point of death, monks and lamas are not exempt from rebirth in the three lower realms if their ranks are not accompanied by practice. So the only ‘high’ that matters is that you are high in your thinking and practice, and not in your rank.

When Rinpoche tells stories about the great masters in the monasteries, it’s not just the scholars and ranking lamas that move and inspire Rinpoche, but those without name and fame who are sincere in their faith and practice. I still remember the story of an ordinary monk who only relies on Lama Tsongkhapa and Migtsema as his practice, which was given to him when he was younger to combat his depression. Then there is also the story of Gen Nyima who relied solely on Yamantaka and didn’t know how to do any other pujas.

2) motivation is important. Criticism is okay when the motivation is constructive, to amend something for the better AND to do something about the situation you are criticising. The types of people that the world admires are those who criticise and challenge the status quo, AND combine their criticism with peaceful action.

Mother Teresa’s social action was a criticism of the lack of care and medical aid for lepers. Mandela criticised the apartheid status quo and combined it with his peaceful 27-year incarceration. Aung San Suu Kyi criticised the junta and combined it with her stoic house arrest. Gandhi challenged British rule and combined it with his ahimsa methods.

All of these people criticised AND used themselves and their lives as examples for the ideals they are standing up for.

Our lamas are the same. They criticise our body, speech and mind so we stop these actions that damage and hurt others mentally, physically and spiritually. They become part of the solution by teaching us the Dharma (i.e. an alternative method of life so we benefit others) by official teachings, by action, by method, by example.

But criticising to be right, criticising without offering a solution and criticising without being part of the solution does not garner respect or even make people like you.

3) if we spent as much time on introspection as we do in looking for faults in others, we would be Buddhas already. Are we free from criticism ourselves to warrant looking at others over and above looking into our minds?

To criticise without good reason and become the ‘spiritual police’ that Rinpoche wrote about doesn’t just run the risk of damaging other people’s spirituality. It can damage ours too when we indulge in our unruly minds in this way.

Considering the pervasiveness of our deluded thinking, it’s best not to indulge in our unruly minds and let it run riot. So we should refrain from criticising because we never know the nature of the object we are criticising. What happens if the object we are criticising happens to be a Buddha? We would never be able to discern this with our deluded thinking; it would just be best not to criticise at all since we can’t afford to accumulate anymore negative karma.

4) the fact there is something to criticise points to a few concepts about the nature of existence. First, that there is duality because what you think is perfect and free from criticism may not necessarily appear that way to others. Second, the fact we feel words are hurtful is an indication of how strong our ego is to view these words as negative criticism rather than just feedback.

So if we want to criticise, we should consider if there is an inherent fault in the object we are criticising or if the fault lies with our perception. Take Dorje Shugden for example – the information about him, when examined logically and free from bias, shows us that this being is a Buddha. Buddhas are beings who are without karma, therefore they do not have the karma to be criticised.

So why is there criticism of them? Because the fault lies in the perceiver having the karma to see faults in the Buddha, in order to criticise them.

5) having said that, we also have to consider the source of criticism. Rinpoche wrote about the importance of good friends and I definitely agree with this.

Do our friends criticise us and put us down, so they feel better about themselves? Or do they criticise us because they want us to improve?

Rinpoche has told us before that when we get into a relationship, our partners should push us to greater spiritual heights. The union should be one that benefits one another’s spiritual practice, instead of furthering our samsara. I think this can also be taken to mean any kind of relationship and not just a romantic one. Since we have a choice of friends and limited time to practise, we should choose to be with people who encourage our practice and not drag us down.

Reflections and Teachings

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