From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

man and woman wearing brown leather jackets

Tim has a very comfortable paying job and the work he has to do is fine but there are just some colleagues who seem to be out to make his life difficult. If only they were not in the company, his working life would be great. He enjoys driving his fast car but there are some inconsiderate people on the road who intentionally waste his time by driving too slowly. If only they could be removed from the road. If only all the inconsiderate and unkind people can be removed from the face of this earth, then he would have happiness.

Tim has the habit of blaming others for his lack of happiness. He does not take responsibility for his own happiness but relies on others to make him happy. This is obviously a hopeless case because he can never find something externally, which can only be found in his heart. It is like searching for a tropical forest in the Antarctic.

Fault finding is easy to do. We can easily find fault even with saints! Once after reading about the Great Mahatma Gandhi whom I admire very much, I brought up a discussion of him with a friend from India. I mentioned that India is very fortunate to have had a leader who demonstrated that Spirituality can be practiced even in politics. However, I was shocked when my friend began to list out certain negative aspects about Gandhi, which I saw as merely his own perception and interpretation of things.

When we do not have any major problems, our minds will tend to keep busy through fault-finding. We do that because fault-finding pleases the ego and makes one feel superior. We set a higher standard for others compared to ourselves. When we make a mistake, it is common. When others make a mistake, it is silly. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

If we can rid ourselves of this habit, we can convert these neutral periods into times of peace and happiness. We need to let go of the need to blame others and control the universe. Who is responsible for our own happiness? We are, for only we can bring happiness to our own hearts. We cannot depend on others for our own happiness. All the stars may be shining brightly above our heads, even dancing, but if we do not let go of our habitual tendency (‘our karma’) to assign blame and do not take responsibility for our own happiness, we will not realise that we already have happiness. It is just that we do not know how to enjoy it.

The best friend of the fault finding habit is self-criticism. They are always together. The ego is very good at self-criticism. It takes an actual experience and makes a generalised statement about it. One makes a wrong investment decision and the ego says, “You are lousy at investments”. One makes a mistake and the ego says, “You are stupid or careless”. Such generalisations are unfair. We know that they are unfair but yet we are affected by them. It is habitual; a particular thought will generate a particular emotional response. What we need to do to break this habit is to watch our self-criticism with awareness. We give them our full attention, with the intention of understanding how we criticise ourselves. When we do that, the criticisms will slowly lose their emotional charge.

Whenever we make a mistake, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it, think of how we can avoid repeating it and move on. There is no need to indulge in self-criticism, which zaps our energy unnecessarily.

Give up the fault finding mind. We cannot blame the externalities for the internal dissatisfaction in our hearts that arises from our separation from the Divine and our misinterpretation of who we truly are. Neither can we expect externalities to give us happiness. How many times have we told ourselves that we will be happy and satisfied when we get this and that, only to be disappointed when we eventually achieve it.

MG Satchidananda wrote, “Judgments are harmful because they reinforce the quality condemned, not only in the person being judged, but also, and most significantly in the one who is judging. When we form a judgment about another, for example, thinking, ‘that person is so greedy,’ we are actually dwelling upon the quality of greed, and are therefore strengthening it within ourselves. Like worry, which can be defined as ‘meditating upon what you don’t want,’ judgment of others is meditating upon what you do not like in yourself”[1].

We must also remember the creative power of our thoughts. Durga Ahlund wrote, “The prana is directed by the mind and vitalizes whatever the mind thinks about. Attention directs prana. We send life force to whatever we give our attention to. Whenever we think about anything, we are directing the prana into those thought forms. A thought is not just something confined to the brain. A thought is projected out and reflected in life. If a thought become habitual and stimulate emotional responses, it becomes a very powerful force of creation. We create our own life situations, whether we realize it or not. Let go of all negative expressions of the mind and the [Real] Self shines through. Fed with the love, peace and fearlessness of the [Real] Self, our consciousness gets the truth, that all bodies are pervaded and animated by the same vital energy and by the same consciousness as that within our own. That is real progress. And that is what is required
to eliminate the mixture of ignorance and knowledge.”

We create what we think about. If we are always complaining in our minds about our jobs or our bosses, we will create negative work situations; long hours and demanding bosses. So, let us stop directing our thoughts to these negative situations and cut-off the prana supply to these negative forces. Remember, we are responsible for our own inner-peace. Externalities cannot give us or take away our inner-peace. Let us go against this habitual pattern of fault finding and start creating positive circumstances for ourselves.

A good question to ask when we judge others is “am I like that too”? Or “Do I also do that”? Most of the time, we will find ourselves guilty of the same behaviour which we judge others of.

We alternate between pleasant and unpleasant experiences all the time. Once upon a time, a king asked his adviser how he can remove suffering completely from his life. His adviser then took out a stick. He said, “Your Highness, you only want the right end of this stick and not the left. So I will break the stick into two and throw away the left side”. The adviser proceeded to snap the stick into two. As soon as he did that, the King could see that there is now a new left side of the stick. He understood the adviser’s message and could see that his request was impossible.

In this world of duality, there are good and bad aspects to every event. We need to accept both with equanimity. When faced with difficulties, we should also look at the positive aspects and the opportunities that are presented. I have friends who lost their jobs only to build successful businesses and careers subsequently. Behind the mask of perseverance, we will find the face of equanimity.

[1] ‘Judgment, or How to Avoid Harming Others and Ourselves’ by MG Satchidananda

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