C R I T I C I S M
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, February 2, 2010
1. The most base of all feelings is that of self-satisfaction. Any feeling has its consequences, but self-satisfaction brings only death. It is not easy to think of self-criticism as a blessing, but one can train oneself to persevere on this endless road to achievement.
If you imagine your highest attainment, even it will be ugly when compared with perfection. Our labors primarily have dissatisfaction at their base, it is the impetus for Our searching. But to the newcomer the most difficult question will be, “Brother, can you contain eternal dissatisfaction?”
Agni Yoga, 484
2. Now let us understand the difference between condemnation and fair judgment. Everyone knows that there are crimes for which a severe judgment is deserved, but ordinary, everyday criticism is superficial and harmful. Often, when criticizing others, people attempt to compel them to act as they would wish them to. They do not want to understand that each bird has its own song and that it is wrong to force it to sing an alien tune. One can even kill the singer, but nothing will be gained. It is regrettable to see how people impose their will others, and it is even worse when these violations are committed in the name of Good. When We speak about concern for the protection of our friends, We have in mind the most solicitous care, and not tactless criticism. It is time to understand that it is wrong to poison the atmosphere with thoughtless criticism, which is akin to slander.
Supermundane III, 466
3. There is little difference between taking joy in another’s suffering and slandering him. Everyone who does this will sooner or later experience the same attitude from others. People may err, or they may commit crimes, and thus deserve criticism or punishment, but one should not rejoice over their troubles.
Supermundane III, 595
4. To all those who gather together, not for the honest study of the given high concepts, but only for criticism, one may say with the words of the Teaching when it is advised to preserve unity, … “when people are imbued with malicious disunity, the immediate results are destructive devastations in space. Thus, such people not only harm themselves but also create a spatial karma, involving in it many who are like them. It is frightful to battle with this newborn chaos. People who bring in disunity are called creators of chaos. Grievous are the consequences brought about by these evil calumniators. …In malice people can attain the destruction of the astral strata. What vast efforts by experienced weavers will be needed to heal these spatial wounds! We must battle against disunity. Not psalm-singing with harps, but labor and battle. …”
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 31 July, 1937
5. I am sending you my entire faith that you will accept the spiritual heritage of F.D. and will personify his symbol, that of the Leader of the Heart. Let all those who seek Light and who are overburdened by grief find response in your heart; and let all those who have gathered under your guidance feel that heartfelt sympathy which warms one even in spite of stern criticism. Indeed, the most difficult are is to create the right relations between people. No single art requires so much patience, tolerance, and refined sensitiveness. One should learn to penetrate into the consciousnesses, the hearts, and moods of all those who surround and come to us; it is necessary to feel the fundamental undertone upon which one can be united with them and unite them with others.
However, if the great magnet of love lies in the heart, everything will be made easier, since the sincerity of this feeling can conquer the most hardened hearts. To the heart that has touched Beauty this language of the heart must be close; therefore, I have faith in you--a Leader of the Heart.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 29 May, 1936
6. It must be understood that criticism and condemnation are bad weapons. This can be seen by observing the karma of nations. Those that condemn gather heavy clouds above them. Evolution is the realization of good. Let each one think about what he regards as good. He will at first err, and mistake his excessive ego as good will, but if he deepens his thinking he will ultimately discover within himself the true sparks of the common good. We must not demand complicated terms and philosophizing. Evolution is harmonious and simple in the beauty of goalfitness. Thus we will labor for the common good, knowing that every sincere striving for good is already an active contribution. Thus we will learn benevolence. The Thinker used to say, “If we collect only bitter herbs, our soup will also be bitter.”
Supermundane III, 515
7. Urusvati knows that from time immemorial all the higher Teachers warned about the harm of lightminded criticism. Even so, the majority of humanity is still predisposed to this flaw. In failing to distinguish between a well-founded, just judgment and critical gossiping, people do not realize what irreparable harm they inflict on their neighbors, and on themselves.
People may agree that slander is criminal, but not recognize that they, too, sometimes slander and not even realize the cosmic harm they cause. We speak here not only about physical harm, but also about supermundane harm. You can imagine how the evil of lightminded criticism acts in the Supermundane World, if this viper takes possession of the thinking of just one individual there, where all live by thought and are especially sensitive to mental shocks. A slanderer on Earth spreads harm among a limited number of people, but a supermundane slanderer strikes the multitudes.
It should not be thought that slander sown can easily be uprooted. Regrettably, these poisons have a long life and leave indelible traces in Cosmos. Therefore people should think about the responsibility they bear for their judgments. Proper instruction should contain warnings about ineradicable harm.
The Thinker warned not to dirty the path with light-minded criticism.
Supermundane IV, 801
8. The Subtle World requires a careful approach, because everything there exists mentally, and earthly criticism can be extremely disturbing to subtle beings, who in turn can respond with unkind thoughts. …
It is also possible that by criticism one may retard the evolution of those beings, some of whom may be at the point of overcoming their unrighteousness. It is cruel to surround them with vibrations like the barking of dogs. In addition, people are unable to judge the motives for another’s actions, and unjust criticism will only burden his karma. People judge in ignorance, and thus deprive themselves of joy, and loss of joy is a great misfortune. …The wise one will not condemn those who suffer, but will lead them toward the golden ray of dawn. Amidst the darkness the sage does not examine al those who await him, but cares only to help the needy. Who knows, perhaps he will lead forth even his former enemies? And when the sage brings them into the light he will smile to see whom he has brought out. They will be ashamed and condemnation is thus extinguished. …All that matters is the ascent toward Light. Darkness blinds, but the one who has come from the outside can see the glimmer of the Light. There will be better abodes in the Light.
Supermundane I, 187
9. Where there is true love, there is no place for doubt. Those who love will not criticize something they do not understand. Where there is criticism, there is not complete love.
Supermundane I, 86
10. I must remind you that criticism is easy, but art is difficult. And a disciple who has read the books of Living Ethics with his heart must realize how important it is to practice on his path the benevolent eye. Nothing is ever created by criticism alone. And so, do not criticize, but instead analyze each question from many angles remembering all the multiformity and complexity of the Universe.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 21 January, 1936
11. Although I am touched by your vigilance, I must tell you that the defense of the Teaching should be expressed, not by criticism or condemnation in others, but, first of all, by applying the covenants in one’s personal life. As usual, the best defense and the strongest conviction are brought to bear by concrete example.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 17 April, 1936