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If anybody is thinking evil thoughts of you , if other people find fault with you , are you to retaliate ? No , no . Never !

How do criticism and evil thoughts injure you ? They injure you only when you receive them ; if you do not receive them , they will not injure you .

RAMA राम

Rama will lay before you one of the most dangerous obstacles in the way of Self-Realization . It is criticism ; criticism from within and criticism from without .

We will take up criticism from without . Somehow or other most people have an intense habit of criticizing others , and so long as you have this habit of judging others or finding fault with others , or looking on the dark side of others , you will find it very difficult to realize GOD .

Here is a child . It has no thief in the child , and if in the presence of the child a thief enters , one can carry everything away , for the child has no thief in , and for the child there is no thief outside ; and so when you try to detect the thief outside , you put the thief within you .

When you try to discover faults or blemishes in others , you are inviting blame or faults to yourselves . When you fire a gun you shoot another body , but the gun will recoil and you will also get a shock , the gun will react against you . When you blame or find fault with others , you will also get some of the fault yourself , for this is the law . Not to find fault with others is not so much to spare others as to spare yourselves . You must rise above all this blaming , criticizing , fault-finding spirit .

It is very much easier to discover the mote in your neighbour’s eye than to detect the beam in your own .

Remember it always that when sending out thoughts of jealousy and envy , of criticism , of fault-­finding , or thoughts smacking of jealousy and hatred , you are courting the very same thoughts yourself . Whenever you are discovering the mote in your neighbour’s eye , you are putting the beam in your own .

In order to have mercy on yourself you must give up this fault-finding and this denouncing of others . Remember that for that person such and such an act may be good and at the same time that same act may be very injurious to you . You may give up the act which you blame in another but you need not blame another for that act .

Do you know why the habit of fault-finding and criticism is universal ? There is some good foundation for it .

Why do people criticize others and who are they who criticize the most ? Weak persons , ignorant people are the ones who criticize most ; always . The reason of this is that through the spirit of criticism they want to protect themselves . It is the principle of self-defence and self-preservation , appearing in the form of criticizing others .

One sees another party doing something which if done by oneself would have harmed one ; so one begins to hate that act ; one must necessarily hate that act , for if one does not , one cannot refrain from doing that same act , one cannot remain unpolluted or unscourged by that act .

There was a possibility of contagion by that act , so the person liable to catch contagion from one's neighbour begins to criticize others , and by that criticism one lies in safety , one thinks that so long as one criticizes one's neighbour one will keep oneself free ; but then this shows only the bright side of criticism , and shows that criticism is indispensably necessary at certain stages of our spiritual progress .

The dark side of this spiritual progress is that those weak persons make a mistake of beginning to hate and despise the person on account of the vicious acts of that person . These mistakes you might blame and criticize , these deeds or sayings you might blame or criticize , that vicious attitude of mind of your neighbour you might criticize , but you have no right to begin to hate or despise the person .

There is an old saying " Hate the sin but not the sinner . "

Now , is it practical to hate the sin and love the sinner ; is it practical ? Yes , it is very practical . It may not be for the people who have not solved the problem in that way . A little knowledge is all that is wanted .

Just mark , the act you hate in another , the same act which if done by you would have marred your course and retarded your progress , may be right when done by another . You may say sin is sin always . Where comes the difference ?

If you begin to call particular acts sinful and other particular acts virtuous , then you make a mistake .

No act is sinful or virtuous by itself , just as the cipher or zero by itself has no value , but place the cipher to the right hand side of a decimal point and it decreases the value of the expression ; place the cipher to the left hand side of a decimal point and it increases the value of the expression , but by itself the zero or cipher has no value . Similarly , no act by itself is virtuous or vicious .

The difficulty in hating sin and loving the sinner lies in your misunderstanding the nature of sin .

Just as people begin to personify GOD when they begin to make much of the body , and of their property ; just as people begin to have fetishes and personifications , this same ignorant tendency of the people leads them to fetishing and objectifying and magnifying particular acts , and they begin to stamp certain acts as heinous and other acts as virtuous . Remember , religion is a thing of the heart and virtue is a thing of the heart , so is sin .

Sin and virtue have to do altogether with your position and frame of mind .

It is not the body but the soul that is to be reformed ; it is the mind that is to be regenerated . You have to be born of the spirit .

Just as " Dust thou art , and to dust thou must return " was not spoken of the soul , similarly , " You have to lie born again of the spirit , you have to be regenerated " is not to be spoken of the body .

If , for example , a baby in your house drinks milk from its parent’s breast , would it at this your advanced age be right and good for you to drink of that parent’s breast ? No , a grown up , stalwart person should not live in the house on the parent’s milk ; one cannot live on that , but the child does that . There you see it is right for the child to live on that milk , but not for you . For you it would be a sin to do that . At a mature age to live upon the milk of the parent is a sin , but for the child it is no sin ; the child does that which is not right for you to do , but does that make you hate the child ? It is a sin if you do this and consequently you hate the sin but not the sinner .

For the child it is not a sin , for you it is a sin , and then you hate what is a sin to you and love the child . That particular act is a sin from your stand­point but not from the standpoint of the child . So remember always with all sins in the world the same is the case . Regard all those deeds and acts which if performed by you would be harmful or sinful as worst sins , despise and loathe such acts of the world but hate not and despise not the doers of those acts or deeds . You have no right to misjudge them .

There was a great Persian author , Sadi , who was famous and whose works have been translated by Emerson in English . Sadi writes that when a child , Sadi was going to Mecca , the holy land of Mohammad . It was the custom that all the people in that company were expected to get up at dead of night and pray .

One night Sadi and parent got up and prayed but some of the company did not . They were sleeping , and Sadi pointed to them and said complainingly to the parent ,

" See , how worthless and lazy they are , none of them woke up and prayed . "

and the parent replied sternly to the child ,

" O Sadi , O dear child , it were better for you to be asleep like them and offer no prayer than to be up and offer prayer and find fault with them and criticize them ; this is a worse sin than not to say prayers and not to worship GOD . "

If you have done something very charitable and very great , and your neighbours have not , if this great deed puffs you up and you find fault with and criticize your neighbours , have you gained in virtue , are you nearer to GOD ?

No , no , you have simply exchanged one vice for another kind of vice , your evil deeds and acts given up were like so many copper cent pieces which you exchanged for silver dollars , the silver dollar is criticism , this fault-finding spirit . There you are the same , you have one vice left . Originally you had perhaps one hundred vices , but now you have but one vice , but that one vice is equivalent to the other hundred , so it does not bring you any nearer to the true Renunciation .

If the world has not regarded this criticizing and this censuring spirit as an heinous sin , then the world is to blame ; but experience proves that the one who does something wrong but who has a loving heart , the one whose deeds are not pious in the eyes of the world but whose soul is tender , whose mind is gentle , whose spirit is softened , and near to GOD , that one who is mild , that one is nearer the Sovereignty of Heaven than other philosophers .

In the Bible the Pharisees were very pious , their acts and deeds were very pious , but those Philistines lacked that tender , kind , and loving spirit ; these people had this censuring , fault­-finding spirit in them , which kept them farther away from Christ than Mary Magdalene , the one who had to be stoned , one whose character was not the purest , one who was not immaculate . This Mary Magdalene had not in oneself , this fault-finding , this censuring , this blaming spirit , but had that spirit of love in oneself and was nearer to Truth , was nearer to the Sovereignty of Heaven than the Pharisees .

In a poem written by Lee Hunt whose substance is as follows , this idea is brought out so clearly .

There was a certain Sheik who saw in one of the visions an angel writing the names of people in a book . The Sheik asked ,

" What are you doing , angel ? "

The angel replied ,

" I am writing out the names of those who are the nearest and dearest and greatest worshippers of GOD . "

And then Sheik lowered the head and was dejected and said ,

" I wish I had been a worshipper of GOD as others have ; I never pray , I never fast , I never attend church , I shall be debarred . I shall not be able to enter the Sovereignty of Heaven . "

The angel said " Cant help . "

Then Sheik put another question to the angel and said ,

" Will you ever put down a list of those who love humanity and the whole world and not GOD ? "

The Sheik said ,

" Put down my name as a worshipper of humanity . "

The angel disappeared .

The Sheik had a second vision and in the second vision the angel reappeared with the same book , and when the angel was turning over the leaves of the book and had revised it all , the Sheik inquired what the angel was doing and the angel said it had revised it , it had written down the worshippers of GOD in order of merit , and the Sheik asked if the angel would allow looking at the register , and lo ! To the Sheik's great surprise , the Sheik , who had given the name as a worshipper of humanity , found the name at the top of the list of worshippers or devotees of GOD .

Is not this strange ? It is a fact .

If you worship humanity , or in other words , if you look upon humanity not as humanity but as the Divinity , if you approach Everything as GOD , as the Divinity , and then worship humanity , then you worship GOD .

This criticizing , censuring , blaming , fault-finding with people is not worshipping GOD , this giving away of presents is not worshipping GOD . In the Bible we are told that people told Jesus about the parents who were waiting outside for Christ , Christ pointed out to the multitude and said ,

" Behold my parents , look upon the faces of them as upon your own . "

You see your own faults and hate not yourself , and if you find faults in your friend , try and keep yourself away from those faults , but hate not .

They are GOD , recognise the GODhead in them .

Here is one who is in the service of the State , one who does some official duties of the State . One conceives the idea of leaving all one's state matters and goes to the President and devotes all one's time and forgets one's own duties . Will such a person be kept in office ? No , never , one will be turned out .

To worship the President you must take care of your own duties , you must worship , as it were , those acts and deeds which are yours as a servant of the State . Similarly , if you make it a point to profess Religion in your Church and in your rosaries , it is like going to the President and beginning to rub the President's feet , and bowing down before the President , but that alone will not do .

To worship GOD in the best way is to worship the Divinity and GOD in your friend . When you have reached the point where you begin to feel the Divinity in the friend , where their mistakes and errors do not keep you offended ; their errors and mistakes do not blind you to their Divinity ; when that Divinity is in no way clouded , then you will be in a position to realize the Divinity within yourself .

Here is the whole difficulty put in a nutshell . Why do we not find Divinity in the foe ? It is because we find fault with the foe . People must cease to find fault , and see Divinity all around . Believe in the Divinity present in everybody , see the Infinity in everybody .

Very often we find people like Nero , who are very religious , very moral in their youth , yet turn out to be very wicked . Henry V of England was very wicked in childhood , but turned out to be very good in afterlife .

Thus , do not try to stereotype the character of anybody , for some people who are bad today may turn out to be very good tomorrow .

Walter Scott was a dunce when a child , but was a grand person in after years . Isaac Newton got punished several times for not solving sums in Arithmetic , but look what Newton became in after years . Mary Magdalene was very wicked in early youth , but later on when in contact with Christ , was very pious , and became a disciple of Christ .

The ordinary sinner of today may turn out to be a saint , to be the purest person after a while . Remember that if a person is doing wrong , you have no right to stand against and hate the person . See the Divinity in the person , see GOD in Everything and Everywhere .

If anybody is thinking evil thoughts of you , if other people find fault with you , are you to retaliate ? No , no . Never !

When Socrates was in prison and before being given hemlock , the disciples gathered around and wanted Socrates to leave the prison and escape ; they wanted to bribe the jailor and send the jailor off . Socrates asked them whether bribery and breaking the laws of the State were lawful ?

They said , " Never . "

Then Socrates asked , " If this be not lawful , why ask me to escape , why ask me to do what is unlawful ? "

They said , " These people have done wrong , they have not exercised the law in the proper way , and so it will not be wrong to escape " , and Socrates said ,

" Do you want me to retaliate , to break the law , to do that which is unlawful because others break the law ? If I break the law , it can never correct the error , it can never be consistent with the statement made by you before that law breaking is never lawful . Two blacks never make a white . If others criticize and blame , why should we do so ; if we do as others do , we simply add to the original wrong and matters are never mended . "

How do criticism and evil thoughts injure you ? They injure you only when you receive them ; if you do not receive them , they will not injure you .

Just as if someone sends you a letter and you receive it , it will be either good or bad in its effect upon you . But if you do not open the letter , if you do not receive it , or if the letter is left in the Post Office , it is sent back to the sender .

Similarly , if other people send evil thoughts and you do not receive them , then those evil thoughts are sent back ; but by receiving and accepting these thoughts you pervert matters . Receive not their criticism .

How ? By asserting your Divinity , by keeping in your centre , by living in the Spirit , by realizing the Truth .