What propels us to criticize another? At the time, we convince ourselves of many things. One may be that we feel superior and so we find it easy to criticize another. After all, no one measures up to our brilliance. We might criticize another out of fear. There may be something about that person that threatens us and so the only way we manage that is to diminish them.
I think the biggest reason we criticize another is due to a lack of understanding. What we don’t know; what we don’t understand is so often more threatening to us than anything else. And when we can’t get our minds around something or something that someone represents we often diminish them.
Isn’t this the stuff that we go to war over? Isn’t this the movement behind every racist on the planet? I don’t understand you. What you represent to me is threatening because it’s not part of my sphere of thinking and therefore you are bad. You are trouble. You are less than. You are an idiot. You are a farce.
I live a very different life, in many ways, than the average joe. I eat differently. I see life through a very different lens. I have spiritual practices that I utilize everyday that most of my closest friends don’t even know about (but to my closest friends, it wouldn’t surprise them 🙂 ). I have very different practices for my health and well-being. I don’t see conventional doctors and nor does my daughter. I’m sure some people look at some of the decisions I’ve made along the way and some of the ways in which I live and have lots of choice words to utter. And yet those who know me really well don’t criticize me. And none of my friends live the same way that I do. So it’s not like they don’t criticize me because they’re doing the exact same things and living a similar lifestyle. They’re not. They’ve simply come to understand me. As a person. As a very mindful and different person.
So while they, themselves, don’t live like I do (or likely even think like I do) we get along like a house on fire. There are no questions asked. There is no criticism. And they receive none from me. I don’t ask them why they don’t go and see a Naturopath rather than an M.D. There is an unspoken understanding. There is an acceptance of the differences.
I’ve always said that if we were all the same, life would be pretty freaking boring. But deep down, it’s what we want, isn’t it? We abhore what is different from us. Why? Because we don’t understand it.
There is another problem with this mindset. It keeps us stupid. When you seek to only read, meet, explore or understand people or things that fit into your mold, you cease to grow. You remain fixated in this insular, small world that only lets in card-carrying members and displays the Keep Out sign to those who think differently.
There is a quote by Hazrat Inayat Khan that says, “Every soul yearns for knowledge, that knowledge which will give exaltation. But the soul cannot be satisfied by the knowledge one gathers from books, by learning, or by the study of outside things. For instance the knowledge of science, the knowledge of art, are outside knowledge. They give one a kind of strength, a kind of satisfaction, but this does not last. It is another knowledge that the soul is really seeking. The soul cannot be satisfied unless it finds that knowledge, but that knowledge does not come by learning names and forms. On the contrary it comes from unlearning.”
Perhaps until we begin to dismantle our encrusted thoughts and opinions and criticisms of others, of life, of all that we have come to ‘learn,’ we will remain in a state of ignorance. Be willing to let them go. Be willing to be like a child and have everything be new and curious. Embrace that which feels good to you; that which is life supportive. Let go of the rest. The point is, this will look different to everybody. It’s supposed to look different. If there were one right answer, wouldn’t we all be living in accordance with it?
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