Jiddu Krishnamurti was one of those people in the modern history with a highly brilliant and enlightened mind that we often miss to understand the simplicity of many of his messages; much less, the truth communicated in each of them. What stands in my mind (i.e., how I understand the whole shebang) after reading one of his books (alright, one and a half, lol!) and hearing many of his talks is this simple thing: “A human has to listen with full attention in order to understand; understand in order to learn; learn in order to change.”
Authentic listening – that is, to listen with our whole being to what is transpiring or what is being communicated without processing or interpreting while the action is ongoing – is an art that the majority of us are yet to learn. To us, what constitutes listening is our ability to hear barely sufficient information, or what is being said, to enable us to formulate our response to it – our defense – our justification of our own action.
Why do we always feel like we are being attacked by the other person when we do not like what we are hearing? Why do we always feel the need to be defensive or protective of our own self? Why do we react negatively to criticism? Why do we care about the opinion of other people? Why do we give a damn and want to be certain that the other human holds us in good light? What kind of emotional need is being met by such kind of assurance?
Criticism. Everybody (unless you are anywhere near JK’s level of intelligence) is sensitive to it. True that many of us have learned how to wisely manage criticism (by that, I meant, we learned how to be indifferent to it) – but, at the core, there is a minute part of us that revolts against it. Against the audacity of the other person to even think of it. How dare he (or she)! Right?
Criticism, if taken with a certain degree of objectivity and viewed from afar, is not really a bad thing. Rather, it is a tool for learning – albeit, a rather harsh teacher to learn from. Yet, a man or a woman who wants to be a good driver must practice driving in both smooth and rough roads – in both straight and crooked terrains.
So, supposed somebody called us dumb and ignorant…
Our usual reaction is to get angry. Get angry, hurt and defensive.
Such a reaction is normal, acceptable and justifiable under the usual conduct of human beings. After all, our moral ethics said it is not good to be unkind.
Let us suppose, that if – after hearing the words “dumb and ignorant” – we pause and then we reflect on the very words. Am I dumb? Am I ignorant? What makes him (or her) think that I am dumb and ignorant? Is his (or her) assumption true? If it is not true, should I let it affect me? If it is true, should I not correct myself?
See? If we use every criticism we receive to reflect on its authenticity in relation to our self then we find a thing or two that is true or not about ourselves! Therefore, we get to know our own self better and deeper. We get to learn! And all it takes is listening attentively without questioning the motive of the other person – without trying to defend our own image.
After all, being called dumb and ignorant does not make us dumb and ignorant IF we are really not dumb and ignorant. (And yes, I am aware of the number of times I used the words and therefore I am aware of being redundant :-P.)
IF we are not really dumb and ignorant then why the opinion of the other person would matter to us? His (or her) opinion defines his (or her) own dumbness and ignorance, not ours. Therefore, why give a care? Why stress? Why be indignant? When we can simply let it go and rest in our knowledge that we are not what he (or she) thinks we are.
It is already 2021 – a new decade has just started. Perhaps, it will serve us best to befriend criticism and deal with it intelligently (not indifferently nor ignorantly). Then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to lessen HATE in this world and increase LOVE instead.
And I am saying that we must learn to use criticism as a learning tool to study everything about us and around us – like the “pandemic” that is not really a pandemic but is being projected and marketed as pandemic in order to make business (and who knows what other agenda is being pushed) out of it.
See, fear is a smart and useful leverage in marketing – anything. From products to politics to religions. But let us talk about it in another post.
For now, I say, befriend criticism. Instead of reacting right away, pause and reflect objectively. Pause and reflect in every way. A heart that is slow to anger is a healthy heart.