Amend Yourself

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By Mahatma das

Addicted to Fault Finding

“Look within. Amend yourself rather than pry into the frailties of others.” These are the words of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Fault finding is natural for the conditioned soul. We don’t have to learn how to do it or take training to get better at it. In fact, for many people it is an addiction which gives them some form of perverted pleasure. We could call this the Ramacandra Puri complex. Ramachandra Puri was a contemporary of Lord Caitanya. He had an intense need to fault find. He took delight in finding faults in others, even where there were no faults. Fault finding was his life and soul.

Fault finding can be so addicting that some people have to get their daily fix. And it’s easily available everywhere. You can get a fix from all kinds of radio talk shows, news magazines, comedians, and TV shows (fault finding sells). Or you might seek out friends or co-workers to feed the addiction. As Elanor Rosevelt said, “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, sit next to me.”

How rampant is this addiction? It starts early in life. Children’s cartoons are full of fault finding, put downs, and cutting sarcasm. Disrespect is cool and the coolest dudes are portrayed as the ones who put everyone down in the most sarcastic ways.

What’s The Payoff?

So what kind of pleasure do we get from fault finding? What kind of payoff do we get? One common payoff is to feel good or better about ourselves by putting someone else down. If putting someone down makes us happy, what does that say about us? According to the Gita, the happiness one derives from fault finding is in the mode of ignorance. Happiness in the mode of ignorance is described as miserable in the beginning and the end. Isn’t that an interesting concept - happiness that is miserable? Fault finding creates a miserable state of consciousness for one who speaks it and for one who hears it. It poisons the mind and heart.

Yet it is this poisoning of the heart that is taken to be pleasure. That’s how intoxication works. You take in poison (toxic) and feel “happiness”.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta points out that there is no benefit in seeing faults in others, but there is benefit in seeing our own faults. “It is necessary for the best to scrutinize one’s ineligibility. Why should a person be anxious to pry into the defects of others when he does not seek to scrutinize his own conduct?”

Yet the very reason that some of us fault find is to avoid scrutinizing our own shortcomings by focusing on the shortcomings of others.

In addition, we may fault find because we want to assert our belief as the best or only way (we need to be right). Or sometimes we might fault find to get back at someone for hurting us. So fault finding becomes a means of revenge.

But sometimes the reasons we fault find may not be so evident. For example, after a long time and a lot of introspection, one devotee realized that she found fault with others so she wouldn’t have to get close to them. Once she realized and addressed this, she was able to give up her fault finding mentality.

Another devotee was finding fault with a close friend and couldn’t understand why. By being open and honest with herself she came to realize that she was feeling guilty that she hadn’t supported her friend during a crisis. Finding fault with her friend protected her self-image and belief that she is a caring and helpful person. Thus fault finding can be a way to build and maintain a false image of ourselves.

Find Faults in Yourself

What should you do when you are focusing on other’s faults? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta says, “When faults in others misguide and delude you, have patience, introspect - find faults in yourself. Know that others cannot harm you unless you harm yourself.”

Here’s the key; find faults in yourself. Of course, if you are like Ramacandra Puri, everyone else’s faults will stare you in the face while you’ll find it difficult to see any of your own.

Misguided By Other’s Faults

How does seeing other’s faults misguide and delude us? We allow another’s faults to distract us from thinking of Krsna. It is interesting to note that the word “aparadha” actually means “without worship.”

Another way we are misguided is that we often we use the defects of others as an excuse for our own shortcomings. We see this all the time when children play. When they don’t treat their friends well, their normal excuse is, “Well, he did the same thing to me.” We do similar things more often than we’d like to admit. We use another’s misbehavior as a rationale for our own misbehavior. Also, fault finding has a boomerang effect - its own karmic reaction. The very fault we are thinking about in others comes back to infect us. Have you ever noticed that happening to you?

Why are other’s faults so noticeable? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said that because I am so honeycombed with faults I see those defects in others. In other words, we see our own faults in the other person and we have no idea this is what’s happening. The strainer is finding fault with the needle, “Oh you have a hole in you.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes, “Fault-finding arises only from imposing one’s own bad habits on others.”

How Detrimental is Fault Finding?

Is fault finding really that bad or really that detrimental to our spiritual lives? Srila Prabhupada describes it as a sinful activity. “Those who are committing sins like illicit sex, fault-finding, and unjustified violence rarely attain spiritual knowledge or realization. Sinful activities deepen the dark gloom of ignorance, while pious activities bring the light of transcendental knowledge into one’s life.”

PRABHUPADA PUTS FAULT FINDING RIGHT UP THERE WITH ILLICIT SEX AND UNJUSTIFIED VIOLENCE (MEAT EATING).

I have seen many devotees leave Krsna consciousness after becoming increasingly critical of devotees.

Look Within

The next time you are about to talk about someone else’s faults, replace their name in the sentence with your name. That will give you a more accurate take on reality. And that will help you “amend yourself.”

Exercise

Make a mental note of how often you fault find and why you do it (both with devotees and non devotees). See if you can break the habit and go a day, a week, a month or more without saying anything bad about anyone (calling a thief a thief is not considered fault finding).

The goal is to break the habit. It is said that if you do something everyday for ninety days, it will become a habit. So if you can go ninety days without finding fault with anyone, you will have developed the new good habit of not finding fault. And you will be in the good company of those pure devotees who refuse to speak or hear ill of others.

Are you up to the challenge? Take the no fault ninety day challenge. And if you don’t want to take the challenge, ask yourself why not?

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1 Akruranatha

This is a great article and it makes a very important point.

My doubt, though, is: If I do not see faults in others, won’t I be easily taken in or misled by everyone?

In my work as a lawyer I see that, quite often, people are just lying their heads off. If I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, I will end up representing all scoundrels (and then what will I be?)

How can we temper our determination not to indulge in faultfinding with the real, practical need to discriminate between good and bad actors?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 23rd, 2007
2 Suresh das

Why do people fault find? It is so easy to dismiss unhappy people, who may have had bad experiences in the past, as fault-finders. One has to dig deeper to uncover the true underlying cause of unhappiness in this world. If we analyze this cause, repeatedly it can be traced back to a lack of enlightenment. A truly enlightened person is unaffected by happiness and distress, heat and cold, and the many other dualities of this world. It is very difficult to offend an enlightened person. It is the mission of our movement to encourage happiness and relieve distress. Devotees must be very compassionate and tolerant of other’s unhappiness, and search out ways to mitigate it, so that they may find peace.

I vividly remember an incident with a former temple president - Jayananda Prabhu. I was feeling very unhappy at the time. He was very compassionate towards me. He made arrangements to make sure I was taking enough Prasadam.

The Sears department store was founded on the principle that one disgruntled customer would create ten more; because they would spread the word if something was wrong. Srila Prabhupada stated that practicing Krishna Consciousness can be likened to declaring a war on Maya. In any war there may be casualties. Is it not a sign of compassion to not write off the casualties of the “War on Maya” as fault-finders, but instead to find ways to at least patiently listen to what went wrong in the past, and search for solutions, so that so-called fault-finding devotees can find peaceful resolutions, and continue on their path towards enlightenment?

History has a tendency to repeat itself. Human nature tends to stay the same. Whatever happened in the past where unhappy devotees left the movement, as Mahatma Prabhu has stated, can easily happen again if the underlying causes are not properly rectified. It is too convenient to simply write them all off as fault-finders.

Comment posted by Suresh das on November 24th, 2007
3 Unregistered

Great article. I found this part especially interesting: “See if you can break the habit and go a day, a week, a month or more without saying anything bad about anyone (calling a thief a thief is not considered fault finding)”

I have few questions:
1. Who gets to decide what is fault finding, and what is calling spade a spade?
2. After it is properly decided, that one is actually practising fault finding, is it ok to find faults in such fault-finder, demonising him by calling him fault-finder?
3. If we recognize fault finders and call them fault finders, is this also fault finding? So how can we be sure, that other person is really fault-finder, if we are finding fault in him?
4. How to see someone as fault finder, without finding fault in him, and thus oneself becoming fault-finder?

I used to see fault-finding as part of natural protection system, set by Krsna in this world, to help us move through. It is a well known fact, that seeing faults in others is projection of ones own faults. BUT!…, is this really bad? If it is projection, is it really just a projection, or can it also be projection triggered by something the other person is doing wrong? Like, I may be chanting inatentively. And I may be aware of it. But seeing somebody else doing same mistake, is it just projection? Or is it maybe that we are both spaced out? So, if we are both mistaken, then some ego-bruising by pointing at fault may be most welcome.

Another point to note is, that finding faults is never welcome in surroundings, where sense enjoyment is promoted. We can see this in karmi world. I’m ok, you’re ok. As result, in such karmi surroundings one can see great amount of pointing out the fault of certain people, who get labeled as fault finders. In the name of society, love and peace, and higher wellbeing, all criticism (especialy criticism against self proclaimed authorities) is labeled as fault finding, and all sinners are destroyed. With love, of course, and with devotion….. We can see plenty of this everyday in this world.

gd

Comment posted by gauradasa on November 24th, 2007
4 varahanarasimha

Srila Prabhupada has stated that this faultfing is for rascals:

Indian man: (break) …my weekly visits, that Jyoti Swami showed me that incident at Japan(?), and he asked me, “Have you seen…?”

Prabhupada: Dosam icchanti pamarah. Dosam icchanti pamarah. Maksika bhramara icchanti…(?) Maksika, these ordinary flies, they find out where is sore, and the bhramara, he finds out where is honey. Similarly, dosam icchanti pamarah. And the Bhaktivedanta Swami is doing preaching all over the world–that has not come to his eyes. He has come to the Japanese incident. He has come.

Indian man: Yes, I told him there might be some, in a big organization, such a…

Prabhupada: No, why did you not say, “You are such a pamara that this thing has come to your notice and not other thing”?

Indian man: That I told him. For that he began to say, “No, no, you read my literature. You’ll be…. We don’t have any envy.” I took that also with me, and he gave me…. Next time, when I went, after reading, I said, “How many mistakes are there? Not even a single dot is mistake in other literature, and still you say this literature? And what is new therein? Nothing new.”

Prabhupada: Just try to understand that whatever it may be, what is the mentality of these rascals, that “The good things do not come to your notice.” If something is bad, “Oh, here is…” You see. Pamarah dosam icchanti gunam icchanti panditah. Saj-jana gunam icchanti dosam icchanti pamarah. That means they are not even a Vaisnava. You see? Vaisnava means paramo nirmatsaranam. Even one has got some fault, a Vaisnava does not see that. He takes the good qualities. But they are not even Vaisnava. Yes. Dosam icchanti pamarah. The mission of Gau…, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is being preaching all over the…. That does not come to their…. Some Japanese paper has written something–it has come immediately. Dosam icchanti pamarah. That fool, that he’s a…. Here is a pamara, and he’s a lowest of the mankind. You can say that “Why this thing has come prominent to your eyes and not the other thing?”

Indian man: No, I did say in my own way, though I did not quote this, that “You are a pamara.” I said, “Why…”

Prabhupada: Yes, you can say now, that “That day I forgot to say that you are a pamara. So I have come to say that you are a pamara.” (laughter) “I forgot it. Excuse me, I forgot it. So you are pamara.”

760104mw.nel:_Morning Walk

Ramachandra Puri is actually non different from Jatila the mother in Law of Radharani,
according to Gaura Ganodesa Dipika so
this is Lila ,that
he is finding faults with Mahaprabhu, but his example is
there to teach us that one should see the good not find faults . what to speak of in Krsna.
Devakinanda Thakura that used to be Gopala chapala later gloried all the vaisnavas , and bowed to all vaisnavas, past present and future..just to teach us to respect vaisnavas
your servant
Payonidhi das

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on November 27th, 2007
5 mahatma

My doubt, though, is: If I do not see faults in others, won’t I be easily taken in or misled by everyone?

Akruranatha Prabhu,

In my own heart I see a difference between finding faults due to a lack of Krsna consciousness and seeing faults in order to better do my work.

You ask: How can we temper our determination not to indulge in faultfinding with the real, practical need to discriminate between good and bad actors?

If you enjoy finding fault, if you go out of your way to look for faults, if it becomes a kind of recreation for you, then obviously that’s a problem. Sometimes we need to evaluate the pros and cons of people or situations and thus see their faults. But as long as that’s not a source of pleasure for us, I wouldn’t say we are fault finders.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

Comment posted by mahatma on November 28th, 2007
6 mahatma

1. Who gets to decide what is fault finding, and what is calling spade a spade?

I think we need to be objective enough to do that. The nature of a real devotee is that he doesn’t like to fault find. Rather he likes to glorify and appreciate. And sometimes it may serve no purpose to call a spade a spade.

2. After it is properly decided, that one is actually practising fault finding, is it ok to find faults in such fault-finder, demonising him by calling him fault-finder?

Bhaktisiddhanta advises that we should apply the tendency we have to find faults to ourselves and in this way we can improve outselves and at the same time avoid the possibility of committing vaisnava aparadha.

3. If we recognize fault finders and call them fault finders, is this also fault finding? So how can we be sure, that other person is really fault-finder, if we are finding fault in him?

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta went so far as to say we shouldn’t criticize even when there is just reason to do so. Of course, there are obviously circumstances where criticism may be necessary, so we can take this instruction as a general principle.

4. How to see someone as fault finder, without finding fault in him, and thus oneself becoming fault-finder?

If you are in a position to help someone, then it may be necessary to find out their faults or to help them understand how their tendency to fault find hurts them.

It is a well known fact, that seeing faults in others is projection of ones own faults. BUT!…, is this really bad? If it is projection, is it really just a projection, or can it also be projection triggered by something the other person is doing wrong? Like, I may be chanting inatentively. And I may be aware of it. But seeing somebody else doing same mistake, is it just projection? Or is it maybe that we are both spaced out? So, if we are both mistaken, then some ego-bruising by pointing at fault may be most welcome.

It’s not bad if we see other’s fautls and recognize we are seeing our own faults in someone else. It’s good that we see this way. Then we can work on ourselves and not be concerned that the other person has faults. Bhaktisiddhanta said no one can hurt you unless you allow them. We often allow others faults to hurt us.

If someone’s is humble enough, they will appreciate being told how to improve themselves, what they are doing wrong, etc. So Bhaktisiddhanta calls one who points out our faults our friend. But unless it’s done in the mood of service, and done with respect, most of us won’t find it appealing. If we find it enjoyable telling someone what’s wrong with them, that’s something we need to work on.

Your servant,
Mahatma das

Comment posted by mahatma on November 28th, 2007
7 Akruranatha

This is a wonderful and very important discussion. Thank you Mahatma for bringing this up and explaining it so nicely.

There is a whole “taste” or type of so-called pleasure of criticising others. Many of the poor TV situation comedy shows in America have degenerated into laugh-track insult fests.

The pioneering show “All In The Family” in the early ’70s had some creative and thoughtful commentary on contemporary social and political divisions arising from the culture shift of the Vietnam War era, but it got big its laughs from the insults, the “Stifle it Edith” and “Meathead” comments that Archie Bunker made.

This formula getting cheap laughs by insults carried over into numerous other shows, and we have since seen hundreds of bad TV sitcoms in which nearly all the canned laugh lines are more or less (usually less) clever insults. This over-reliance on a not-very-funny kind of joke was not prevalent, at least to such an extent, in earlier sitcoms like “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

Many American 7- or 8-year-olds are addicted to Disney TV shows like “Hannah Montana”, “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “____ in the House” (I forget the name of the kid whose father works in the White House). Even these kids’ shows all follow this really dull formula of having cheap, stupid insults followed by canned laughter.

Of course “All In the Family” did not invent insult humor. Slapstick has always relied on this misfortune of others as a way to tickle our funny bones. In the 1960s, foul-tongued, angry nightclub comics like Don Rickles became famous as “Insult Comedians.”

There was an interesting French movie called “Ridicule” about the “Belle Espirit” style of wit so admired in the court of Luis XVI. I do not know how historically accurate it was, but the premise of the film was that becoming known as a “wit” could get a courtier connected in order to have access to power. (High society craves lively company for dazzling entertaining conversation.) The fashion was to very cleverly insult others, and there was a kind of taste relished in such “witty” remarks which the French (in the film) distinguished from what the English called “humor”. I found that intersting about the film. This 18th-century high French society had no taste for English-style “humor” and were crazy about this “belle espirit” style of witty ridicule.

Some of the flavor of catty gay humor is also the cleverness with which people are sized up and put down, often over superficial style, and such humor is also popular.

Anyway, I have gone way off on a “culture critic” tangent, but my point is to recognize that there are all these different tastes people entertain their minds with, and one of the historically popular crowd pleasers has been to deride, ridicule or insult others. It makes audiences laugh to see a pathetic Woody Allen being rejected by his love interest. There is a kind of “shadenfreude” (joy at the misfortune of others) that is central to much of what people find entertaining and funny.

Getting free of fault-finding may involve experiencing a higher taste.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 28th, 2007
8 Pandu das

Is taking pleasure in identifying and revealing the faults of others the indicator of a ‘faultfinder? It seems to me that many sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada are labeled as faultfinders for addressing perceived deviations with a sense of duty and service, and a strong desire for integrity in Srila Prabhupada’s society.

I was in that situation, and far from giving pleasure, my calling attention to what I saw as a serious problem was very painful for me at every step of the way. It’s beyond my ability to express the suffering I felt in as I decided I must speak up, and it increased immensely upon being condemned as a faultfinder and rejected. I find it hard to believe that anyone who cares for Srila Prabhupada’s teachings would take pleasure in finding fault with anyone, what to speak of devotees.

The word “faultfinder” is like a character assassination weapon that is often used against devotees whose conscience leaves them no choice but to speak. My grief was so unbearable that I’ve become very much afraid of speaking honestly with devotees about things I see that do not resonate with my understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. I’ve been told that I must be careful to speak diplomatically, but Srila Prabhupada says in C.C. Madhya Lila, 19.159, “If we treat people diplomatically or duplicitously, our spiritual advancement is obstructed.” Yet, sadly, I’ve learned that I must do this anyway, or I won’t be welcome in Vaishnava association. It’s very confusing to have to behave this way.

Comment posted by Pandu das on November 28th, 2007
9 Akruranatha

Pandu Prabhu:

I would agree with you that taking pleasure in pointing out (or even seeing) others’ faults, rather than addressing serious problems that need correcting out of a sense of duty, is the hallmark of “faultfinding”.

Still, when one has a duty and a mission to correct some problem, one must be careful and practical in carrying out that duty. I dare say one should try to be tactful whenever correcting someone, and do so in a way that is designed to have the desired result.

The passage you quoted against treating people diplomatically and dupliciously should not be misunderstood. It does not mean that we should lack tact. If we can use diplomatic or political skill properly in service to Krishna, with pure motives, there is no harm. It is the impure motivation that makes diplomacy an obstacle.

One who takes pleasure in faultfinding or simply indulges the propensity to criticize others without caution and restraint, often produces no benefit for anyone.

Also, sometimes when we indulge our faultfinding propensity we may be fooling ourselves as to whether it is really our duty.

But even when it really is our duty (for example to train up our own children properly), it is important to give some thought about how best to achieve the desired results, rather than just acting impulsively.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 29th, 2007
10 Unregistered

I have a question, and would like if somebody can help me understand the answer.

How about discrimination? We are advised to discriminate between devotees, innocent and envious. But in order to recognize an envious person, one needs to see his faults. Everybody has good qualities, and you cannot really call someone envious, just by observing his good qualities. You must see some bad in him, to consider him envious, and avoid his personal association.

And we are advised to discriminate even between devotees - we are told, that for some reason, some devotees are just best to be avoided, and are best to be offered respect from distance. Every devotee has good qualities, and without seeing bad in devotee, why would we avoid him. Isn’t it, that if we are to avoid some devotees, we must see some fault in them?

It seems that discrimination cannot exist without seeing fault in another. Is there a way to discriminate, without seeing/finding faults?

Please help with understanding this.
Thank you.

ys gd

Comment posted by gauradasa on November 29th, 2007
11 Pandu das

Hare Krishna. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the appropriate forum for me to get into specific details related to my experiences with faultfinding, but there is something I wanted to add…

Regardless of whether we see other devotees as having faults, and whether such faults are real or imagined, whether they’re trivial or important, the fact is that we need each others’ support to advance in devotional service. I very much wanted to be wrong about the faults I saw, and I gave it my best shot trying to believe that. However, at least according to my normal level of spiritual understanding, the platform on which I live, I believe what I was seeing was true. Yet I’m sure there are greater levels of truth that I do not fully understand, and I don’t beleive my allegations were in line with that level of reality. I knew they were not, and part of my faultfinding was a squeaky wheel effort to announce that I did not have the understanding that could see the chanters of Hare Krishna as faultless in all circumstances.

One thing I learned from the experience is that I actually need to advance to that platform of seeing the Hare Krishna devotees as completely faultless. Otherwise my position in spiritual life is very tenuous. I could not imagine Krishna’s devotees as separate from Him, and I could not imagine Srila Prabhupada’s disciples as separate from him. In finding fault with the disciple, I had to find fault with the guru, and then I had to find fault with Krishna. In my faultfinding and aparadha, devotees apparently saw me as somewhat of a demon; and as it is in the nature of devotees to see the truth, I became like a demon, opposed to Krishna and His devotees. It is amazing just how bewildering it can be to find fault with devotees.

Finding my way back, I was amazed at just how good it felt to take all the blame for my situation. I’m presently unable to understand how I could be at fault for everything I experience in material life, for all the problems I see and encounter. Yet if it were not for my own faults, I would not be here in this world, so forgetful of Krishna. On the other hand, being in this world is actually very nice as long as I am engaged in verious kinds of loving relationships with devotees.

Comment posted by Pandu das on November 30th, 2007
12 varahanarasimha

here is something from 11 Canto

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.28.1

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

para-svabhāva-karmāṇi

na praśaḿsen na garhayet

viśvam ekāmakaḿ paśyan

prakṛtyā puruṣeṇa ca

SYNONYMS

śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; para — anyone else’s; svabhāva — nature; karmāṇi — and activities; na praśaḿset — one should not praise; na garhayet — one should not criticize; viśvam — the world; eka-ātmakam — based on one reality; paśyan — seeing; prakṛtyā — along with nature; puruṣeṇa — with the enjoying soul; ca — also.

TRANSLATION

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.

PURPORT

Material situations and activities appear to be good, passionate or ignorant according to the interaction of the modes of nature. These modes are produced by the illusory potency of the Lord, which is itself not different from its master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So a devotee of the Lord remains aloof from the illusory, temporary manifestations of material nature. At the same time, he accepts material nature as the potency of the Lord and thus essentially real. The example may be given that modeling clay is shaped by a child into various playful forms such as tigers, men or houses. The modeling clay is real, whereas the temporary shapes it assumes are illusory, not being actual tigers, men or houses. Similarly, the entire cosmic manifestation is modeling clay in the hands of the Supreme Lord, who acts through māyā to shape the glaring temporary forms of illusion, which absorb the minds of those who are not devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.28.2

para-svabhāva-karmāṇi

yaḥ praśaḿsati nindati

sa āśu bhraśyate svārthād

asaty abhiniveśataḥ

SYNONYMS

para — another’s; svabhāva — personality; karmāṇi — and work; yaḥ — who; praśaḿsati — praises; nindati — criticizes; saḥ — he; āśu — quickly; bhraśyate — falls down; sva-arthāt — from his own interest; asati — in unreality; abhiniveśataḥ — because of becoming entangled.

TRANSLATION

Whoever indulges in praising or criticizing the qualities and behavior of others will quickly become deviated from his own best interest by his entanglement in illusory dualities.

PURPORT

A conditioned soul desires to lord it over material nature and thus criticizes another conditioned soul whom he considers inferior. Similarly, one praises a superior materialist because one aspires to that superior position, in which one may dominate others. Praising and criticizing other materialistic people are thus directly or indirectly based on envy of other living entities and cause one to fall down from sva-artha, one’s real self-interest, Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

The words asaty abhiniveśataḥ, “by absorption in the temporary, or unreal,” indicate that one should not adopt a concept of material duality and praise or criticize other materialistic persons. Rather, one should praise the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord and criticize the mentality of rebellion against the Personality of Godhead, by which one becomes a nondevotee. One should not criticize a low-class materialist, thinking that a high-class materialist is nice. In other words, one should distinguish between the material and the spiritual and should not become absorbed in good and bad on the material platform. For example, an honest citizen distinguishes between the life of civil freedom and that of imprisonment, whereas a foolish prisoner distinguishes between comfortable and uncomfortable prison cells. Just as for a free citizen any situation in prison is unacceptable, for a liberated, Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee any material position is unappealing.

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura indicates that rather than trying to separate conditioned souls by materialistic distinctions, one should bring them together to chant the holy names of the Lord and propagate the sańkīrtana movement of Lord Caitanya. A nondevotee, or even an envious third-class devotee, is not interested in uniting people on the platform of love of Godhead. Instead he unnecessarily separates them by emphasizing material distinctions like “communist,” “capitalist,” “black,” “white,” “rich,” “poor,” “liberal,” “conservative” and so on. Material life is always imperfect, full of ignorance and disappointing in the end. Rather than praising and criticizing the high and low features of ignorance, one should be absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, on the spiritual platform of eternity, bliss and knowledge.

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 14th, 2007

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