Public Criticism

Public Criticism

Date Posted:
October 2005

Rinpoche gave the following advice to a benefactor who was receiving a lot of criticism publicly, to the point where he was contemplating suing for libel.

My very dear Tom,
On a personal level, you can use the criticism for your practice. As for the outer level, that depends on what is most beneficial for others. If it is beneficial for others, then you can sue.

It is very powerful to use your reaction to the criticism in your practice. As a Kadampa Geshe once said, "If someone criticizes you, it destroys your mistakes, it blows away mistakes immediately. If one is praised, it inflates pride and ego." In the same text it also says, "If one has wealth, there is suffering – to collect and protect it." And, "Suffering is the broom clearing away negative karmas…. Suffering is the manifestation of emptiness [this means to look at the nature of suffering as empty]. By meditating on its emptiness, then the suffering doesn't bother you. Seeing it as inherently existing, real suffering disturbs the mind. The mind becomes easily overwhelmed by the problem, whereas the other way – seeing its emptiness, the mind is able to overwhelm the problem like a flood." With awareness of emptiness, there is no strong belief in inherently existing suffering.

Also, it is mentioned "that suffering is the blessing or kindness of the guru". Here, the blessing is the purifying of negative karma, suffering being the result of negative karma (which is now finishing).

It also mentions that "Spirit possessions are an action of the Victorious One". This means that an attack or harm by spirits, which causes problems or sickness, is an act of the Buddha to benefit oneself, to purify one’s negative karma.

Geshe Kharag Gomchung said, "Bad or adverse conditions are the virtuous friend. These obstacles are the inspiration persuading you to practice virtue…. Suffering is the result of negative karma, therefore don't dislike it or look at it as an obstacle."

These are some quotations for transforming bad conditions into happiness by looking at them as positive, as a favorable condition. This is the way to make problems and bad conditions beneficial, by using them as the path to enlightenment. How? By meditating on loving kindness and bodhicitta. These destroy the ego. We use them as a weapon to destroy the self-cherishing thought, which brings all obstacles. So, please meditate on bodhicitta and wisdom.

If you look at His Holiness the Dalai Lama's situation, his way of achieving freedom is through non-violent, peaceful means, but, at the same time, he will always clarify what is true and what is false, for example, with the mainland communist Chinese. This is what you need to do when you are a leader. But in one’s own individual case, you offer the victory to others and take the loss on yourself. In His Holiness the Dalai Lama's case, he represents 6,000,000 Tibetans, so final decisions are based on whatever is most beneficial for most sentient beings.

In your case, use all the criticism and bad reputation, whether it is due to your own mistake or not, to destroy your ego and self-cherishing thought, which blocks one achieving enlightenment. As long as self-cherishing abides in one’s heart, it stops one achieving enlightenment and benefiting all sentient beings. You can think of the kindness of the other person, that he is helping you to destroy your ego. Usually, we are always supporting our ego, even developing it. Now, this person is helping to destroy the self-cherishing thought, so what we regard as an enemy is really our most kind friend.

So, use undesirable situations, losses, etc. as experiences to be of most benefit to all sentient beings. This is not just to make one’s own life happy, for some temporary peace.

There are so many ways you can make your life experience most beneficial for yourself and others. The essence is that if you are happy, make your happiness beneficial for sentient beings, and if you are suffering, use it as the cause to bring happiness to others. This way, whatever kind of life experience you have, you use it on the path. There is no interruption to your Dharma practice and one’s life is most beneficial.

Go Tsampa said, "Others’ mistakes are one’s own mistakes, clarify the appearance of the mistake into the deity." This is saying that however one is treated is the result of one’s own negative karma. Even if others create a bad reputation for you, even if there is no apparent cause from your side to experience this result, still you have created the cause. So, you can see what this he is saying. The second part of this technique is looking at that person who criticizes you as a guru, even visualizing that person in the form of a deity. This stops anger, negative emotional thoughts, and suffering results arising.

Geshe Kharag Gomchung said, "Experiencing this small suffering now finishes past negative karma and leads to happiness in future lives. As it is eliminating past negative karma, be happy for the suffering."

With much love and prayer...