The Faults You Find Might Be Your Own
Published on December 18th, 2009 | by Harmonist staff5
By Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami
We go to judge in the case of others: “Why should he receive all this mercy? He has got so many defects, so many disqualifications, an opposing attitude. Why should he be accepted or given any chance?” But we want mercy for ourselves: “Don’t come to judge me because then I have no hope, my Lord.”
This is jnana-sunya-bhakti, “If you come to judge me, I have no hope. Please grant your grace, then I can have hope. I approach you to offer myself to make progress towards you. Please be very lenient; do not find fault with me.” But at the same time, in the same breath, we say, “Why should this disqualified man get any grace? Why will he get some mercy, some affection?”
That is hypocritical and it causes a great deal of difficulty within us. That is suicidal. It is vaishnava-ninda (criticizing devotees), and vaishnava-aparadha (offending devotees). Those that are accepted by him will gradually be purified, but we are very eager to point out faults in them. That is more dangerous for our own progress—suicidal. In my case, I want something higher, but in the case of others we can’t tolerate the same behavior. That is a very difficult position. Generally that is the basis of vaishnava-aparadha. One has been accepted by God, and is gradually purifying themselves, yet we give much attention to the fault that is still left, the difficulties still left in them. These faults particularly come to our attention.
Then, the results is that those faults will be transferred to us. These are the realities of the experience in this line: If I especially mark the fault of another devotee, that will be transferred to me. It happens; in our experience and also from the sastra we have seen this.
So, one must be very careful not to make any remark generally, about the practices and activities of another Vaishnava. Only in the guru’s case when he is empowered by the Supreme, he may correct his disciples. As the guardian, with a sympathetic eye, he can mark the defects in his disciple and help him to remove them.
There must be some affectionate heart within, not jealousy or anything of that type, but with good will he wants to remove the defects from the affectionate student. That is the sum of siksa-guru, or diksa-guru. From that position one may detect the fault of the students of this line, and help them sincerely, to get out of that. Otherwise, if we are attracted by those faults, they will come to us, and we shall have to pay for them, as a practical thing. This is based on reason and scriptural advices.
We must be careful. We are also warned in the vaishnava literature, that we must be careful about vaishnava-aparadha, which comes from the jealous spirit of competition. It is very detrimental to our spiritual life, so, we all must be very careful, not to be especially attracted by any defect in others. If it comes to our eye, we may refer to the higher authority: “I doubt that this is the case with that gentleman, but please check this.” If we make too much of it, either in opposition or in any other way, that effect will be transferred to us. “I am being devoured. My mind is coming in touch with that fault, and that fault is devouring me as food.” It enters into the mental system of the critic, and it must get its satisfaction from there, as a reaction. This is a trade secret—this is also the secret of our devotional life. We must be aware, and we must be very careful about these practical difficulties in the path of our devotional life.
So, we have been cautioned, tat te ‘nukampam susamiksamano. This calculative judgement has been discouraged. Our standard of measuring things won’t stand there. So, jnana-sunya-bhakti, you are to learn a new alphabet here. In the devotional school, we will come in connection with the new alphabet; the old alphabet won’t do. Jnana-sunya-bhakti, give up all the pride of your past experience; your knowledge from experience in the mortal world, won’t do here, won’t be applied here.
This is in the case of infinite, autocratic goodness, all these things. With our mouths, we speak all these big things—absolute good, absolute truth, all these things—but we do not know their characteristics. He may be revealing himself, and we must carefully note his nature.
Jnana-sunya, give up the pride of your own experience, and judgement. It is not like that; there is a new law, here in the land of autocrat, and goodness. The first step is to give up all the pride of our previous experience and begin a new life. The laws of the infinite, not the laws of this finite world, apply here.