The Faults of Criticizing and Blaming Others

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

An edited version of a letter from Lama Zopa Rinpoche to one of the FPMT centers under his care, August 1995.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, possibly in Switzerland, 1990. Photo by Ueli Minder.

The most important Dharma practice is to cease the delusions, the three poisonous minds, which are the root of all suffering, as well as the self-centered mind. All the reciting of mantras and prayers, listening to Dharma, meditating, prostrating, offering mandalas, making offerings at the altar to the holy objects—all of it is for ceasing the delusions and ego.

Therefore the main Dharma practice is to watch the mind during your daily life and to try to free it from being controlled by delusion; to stop torturing yourself with delusions, abusing yourself with your own delusions. How? By applying the three principal aspects of the path and tantra—or at the very least, impermanence and death.

We should realize that the mind is like a baby and we always need to watch it and take care of it; forgetting to do this for even a few minutes can bring danger to a small child. Suddenly the mind is in great danger, which means your life is in great danger. Because your life is controlled by delusion and engaged in karma, your suffering of samsara will be without end.

We blame and criticize others because we don't like suffering. But if we don't like suffering, we should not harm others and create disharmony; this is what interferes with our happiness. What we want and what we are doing are opposite.

Of course, this doesn't mean one can't point out others' mistakes at all. But when you do, as much as possible do it with loving kindness and compassion. For the sake of others, one can point out mistakes and make suggestions—this is how you discuss and communicate according to Dharma. This way there is no danger for oneself; one doesn't create negative karma, which throws oneself over the precipice of the three lower realms.

Although you do your meditation sessions and sadhanas and recite mantra, most of the day is wasted if your work is not connected to Dharma. Not only that, your precious human body is used to create the lower realms. Whatever you do must be according to lam-rim; that is the guideline for this life and future lives.

Being criticized and blamed by others

If you are being criticized by others, use it for Dharma practice, the path to enlightenment, the means for bringing happiness, temporal and ultimate, to all sentient beings. By utilizing the experience of the problem in this way, you can keep your mind in the state of happiness. With this thought transformation practice, the best practice of Dharma, one sacrifices one's own life for others in order to obtain their happiness.

This blaming, these complaints against "me," are the manifestation of many lifetimes of heavy karmas. Use it as much as possible to pacify your own anger and ill will towards others, which is the enemy of bodhicitta, in order to complete the paramita of patience, which is the path to enlightenment. Use it to develop bodhicitta by taking upon yourself all sentient beings' karma of receiving complaints and being blamed. Experience it for others.

The motivation is the point

Some people are crazy about democracy. However, a country can be run by one person or by democracy, but if the leaders do not have omniscient mind or reliable clairvoyance there is always the possibility of mistakes.

When there is no merit and the negative karma hasn't been purified (and, on top of that, even more is being created), it doesn't matter how many smart ideas there are, or whether they come from one person or a group—nothing works. Good results come from good karma created in the past lives. Education about this doesn't exist in the West.

If the leader of a country—even if it is a dictatorship, in the sense that decisions are made by one person—has omniscient mind, can see past, present and future and has completed the mind training in compassion, then there is no danger for others from those decisions. In fact, people receive only the greatest benefit.

Even if the leader is not Buddha but just a bodhisattva, because they have so much compassion there would be no cheating and no ego power, no taking sides without thinking of the happiness of sentient beings. There would only be benefit to others—a bodhisattva has nothing else to be concerned about except the happiness of others.

If Hitler or Mao Zedong, for example, had had education about and experience in compassion, then millions would have had great peace.

Because decisions are made by one person, the director of a center, say, it doesn't mean that it will always be negative or that the person is acting like a dictator. When a country or a center is not guided according to Dharma, especially bodhicitta (that is, without a selfish mind) problems always come.

Of course, democracy gives freedom to people to express their opinions and feelings, and that makes them happy, but just because something is democratically decided doesn't mean it is always correct and the most beneficial. And, as I said before, just because something is decided by one person doesn't mean that it is wrong.

Decisions in life have to be arrived at by analyzing the benefits and the shortcomings, the same as in Dharma practice. So as ordinary sentient beings—in other words, not having omniscience or even the clairvoyance to see the future and karma—we must make decisions with a motivation of loving kindness and on the basis of whatever capacity of analytical discerning wisdom we have.

However, things turn out according to karma. This means that we can create better karma for a better life, in order to be more beneficial for others. And the same with a center: thinking and acting in ways that are most beneficial to others. If you hate the center you are working for, if you find it too much of a problem, you can free yourself from the organizational activities. You don't need to ruin others and oneself.

All the centers run this way—with the director in charge, helped by others who are in charge of the various aspects of the center: this we call the management committee. It is made up of the people who actually do the work; and, with the director, who is also on the committee, it is responsible for the center's day-to-day running and future development.

For legal purposes there can be a board of directors; they should come together as needed by law—once or twice a year, for example, and can if necessary correct or advise the center on matters of great importance. But the day to day activities and management are left completely in the hands of the director and committee.

According to the committee's discretion there can be various subcommittees, for example, the spiritual program committee or fund-raising committee; they would be responsible to the management committee and would in fact have their representatives on the committee.

It is important to remember that this is an FPMT center, here to serve sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha. It was founded by the incredibly kind and compassionate Lama Yeshe who now exists in the form of Lama Osel Rinpoche, who will soon guide the students. And here we have a fully qualified Dharma teacher, a geshe, in residence.

The resident geshe or teacher—Tibetan or Western—is very important to the center. Without a teacher, the center can't be of extensive benefit to others. Because the resident teacher has an extremely important role in the center—benefiting others mainly through the Dharma—they and the director must have very good communication. The success of the center, externally and internally, depends on this. Together, the purpose is to serve sentient beings.

Any individual is most welcome to come here, to study, meditate, work and enjoy this beautiful place and special environment. If you are not in agreement with the way things are run, please discuss respectfully, treat each other with kindness.

I always pray for those who are working hard for the center, sacrificing their lives to serve others; I will always pray this way. And I often pray and hope we all meet when Maitreya comes and that together we will receive the prediction of enlightenment.

With much love and prayer,

Thubten Zopa Rinpoche