To be able to look at the world with the eyes of love is the true education”, says Shri Rama Tirtha. It means looking straight at a person, without projecting any personality on to that person.
It means seeing one’s own Self and not that of a stranger. This is the basis of the philosophy of non-duality, called Advaita. It is a natural attitude of mind which must come to any earnest student of this philosophy, for is not all Brahman? Who or what is there to criticise? When we criticise and blame another, we give reality to the superimposed phenomena, just as a man gives reality to the snake which he himself projects on to a harmless coil of rope, because the light is dim.
When light is brought he knows the truth. Similarly, when the truth of non-duality becomes a practical part of the student’s life, he learns to take his stand on reality alone—on the one existence pervading all. Enlightened beings have demonstrated that this position is the only one we can take. Therefore they neither criticise nor are they affected by criticism.
Shri Rama Tirtha says: “O critic, I love you, but I also love the one you criticise”.
“Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, said Jesus.
We carry into adult life many of the emotional qualities of childishness, but Jesus is speaking of the quality of being child-like. It is one of the most endearing qualities in young children, for they quite naturally never project any qualities on to another person. They may go up with complete confidence to a dirty, down- at-heel tramp as well as to a well-dressed person. They see no difference. We have seen this quality in small children very often and smiled and rejoiced in it. A road-sweeper was brushing the autumn leaves and shovelling them into his cart, and out rushed a little dancing boy of three, crying so sweetly and politely: “Can I have some of your leaves, Mister?”. But all too soon is this joyous, spontaneous quality lost, and the child within seems to be lost for ever—that child ever eager for new and exciting experiences.
Professor Jung says: “There is an Eternal Child hidden in the heart of everyone. To foster it is to complete the personality”.
The childlike attitude to others must be recreated consciously when we enter on a spiritual path, for criticism and blaming others will hinder our upward march to the goal of Yoga. If the habit has been strongly formed, it has to be examined under the light of truth. Self-examination may reveal the fact that it is maybe a carelessness in our manner of speaking.
But it may be a habit which has its roots in envy and jealousy. They are vasanas (latent impressions) in the sub-conscious, which must be brought to the surface and dealt with.
We must be persuaded that all criticism is a waste of energy, which can be usefully employed elsewhere and our attention should be turned to criticising ourselves and our own sad array of limitations. To do this constantly will make us tolerant and compassionate concerning the weaknesses of others.
It is significant that Goethe made Faust blind before he was able to do work of any value for others.
“The night seems deeper now to press around me,
But in my inmost spirit all is light”.
How easily we jump to conclusions about another and make our egotistic judgements concerning them. We may know nothing of their past difficulties and what has produced in them the behaviour and manner of life we may deplore. All are in need of compassion.
The whole of humanity is struggling to a goal, though only a very tiny minority are aware of it. It is the inborn urge to reach God which causes us to evolve to a point where we are capable of love and compassion. Man’s inhumanity to man is the result of the complete absence of these positive emotions. They are exemplified in the lives of the Avataras and the saints of God.
To know all is to forgive all, but how can we know even a fragment of the life of even those we call our friends? But criticism is spread abroad concerning those of whom we know nothing at all.
The following story shows that it is folly to cast blame on anyone.
At the end of the last war, a Buddhist chaplain with great compassion spent three years with the condemned Japanese criminals in a prison in Tokyo. He made every effort to bring these men into a fit spiritual state to face their execution. They learned to repeat every day:
“Though the good life is very difficult to lead,
Now I keep it.
Though the sacred law of Buddha is very difficult to hear,
Now I can hear it.
May I understand the great Truth together with other men
And develop the will to attain the higher state of mind”.
When the execution of the high ranking generals and admirals had taken place, the Buddhist priest received a letter from the mother of one of these generals. In it she stated that belatedly, she realised that she herself was, to a certain degree, responsible for her son’s doom. She wrote:
“My son lost his father at the age of three and after that he was brought up by me, his mother. He liked soldiers and military things from childhood. He would go happily to sleep each night pretending to be a great soldier. One day a member of a religious sect called on me with his small son. I gave the boy a toy sabre and a gun, but the father refused them saying:
“The son of a priest does not play with weapons”.
Looking back at this incident now I am filled with remorse. It is utterly my fault that he became a war criminal. Became of my mistake in bringing him up for twenty-six years with the sole intention of making him a great soldier, my boy became a criminal. I entreat the forgiveness of Buddha, prostrating myself before Him”.
There is only one attitude to adopt. It is to look at the world through the eyes of love, withdrawing our minds from temporal objects which are fruitful of suffering and focusing the mind on the Eternal Reality, the Eternal Child in the heart.
“When He shines, the whole world is lit by His shining”.