Don’t let offense towards others’ faults become a pseudo-defense of one’s own faults
Offense is the best defense, states a common saying.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.61) recommends this strategy in our inner war: to attain self-mastery, fix the consciousness on Krishna. Instead of defending by struggling to say no to our lower desires, it urges us to go on the offensive by striving to say yes to our higher desires to love and serve Krishna. As these higher desires progressively permeate our heart, they automatically push out the lower desires.
However, the ego sometimes sinisterly misappropriates this “offense is the best defense” strategy: it makes us offensive towards others’ faults instead of our own. Whenever we fail in our inner battle, we naturally feel the pinch of our conscience. This bad feeling about ourselves can serve as a healthy, even necessary, impetus for intensifying our devotional efforts.
But the ego finds this pinch of conscience uncomfortable, even intolerable. So it deflects our attention from our faults by striking out at others’ faults. We may have observed that whenever we become weakened internally, we frequently become ill-tempered externally.
And if we are serving as preachers of Krishna’s message, the ego misappropriates even this sacred service. It makes us feel justified to pass harsh judgments on others who don’t live according to scriptural standards of morality – while making us conveniently forget that we ourselves fall short of that standard too. By thus making world-criticism a pseudo-defense against self-correction, the ego traps us.
Gita wisdom equips us to see through the shenanigans of the ego. It underscores that harshness is a decidedly ungodly quality (16.04), whereas gentleness, mercifulness and aversion to faultfinding characterize the godly (16.03).
Being guided by Gita wisdom, when we become offensive towards our faults and sensitive towards others’ faults, our practice of bhakti benefits us as well as others.