We can’t shut the mouth of our critics, but we don’t have to let their words fill our heart
The nature of the world is such that whatever we do, someone will criticize us. When we take to spiritual life, materialists will criticize. Even when we practice spiritual life in a particular way, some spiritualists may criticize us.
No doubt, criticism can be constructive – but only when it doesn’t sap our morale. Without a basic level of encouragement and confidence, we can’t act on inputs for self-improvement, no matter how valid.
If we let our critics’ words fill our heart, the resulting discouragement can sabotage us. Leave alone we doing better the things we anyway find difficult – the things that critics target – we may due to discouragement not even do properly the things we are good at. And that underperformance will invite further criticism, thus making us more discouraged and fueling a vicious cycle of inner decline.
Sometimes we may counter criticism if the critic is willing to listen to reason or if others need to be protected from misunderstanding. But frequently countering only leads to endless argumentation, so we may well choose to not waste our time.
The Bhagavad-gita (14.24) urges us to stay equipoised amidst life’s inevitable binaries such as praise-criticism. The best way to attain equanimity is by connecting with a higher spiritual reality. The highest spiritual reality is Krishna and his love for us. By practicing bhakti-yoga diligently, we can invoke his soothing presence in our heart, thereby countering the disheartening intrusion of critics there. Being thus empowered by his presence, we will determinedly work towards inner correction and outer contribution. And we will work thus not out of anger, but out of love – not because we want to prove our critics wrong, but because we want our actions to enhance the glory of our Lord.
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