Lord Budda was sitting in lotus posture with his smiling face. Suddenly, an agitated person came and started abusing him, challenging him and talking all sorts of nonsense against him.
The Buddha was unmoved like a lotus leaf unsoiled by mud all around. He remained a silent observer throughout. The agitated man was taken by surprise. How can he remain so quiet amidst such abuses? He asked, “Why are you so unmoved by my criticism?”
The Buddha replied by a counter question, “Suppose you offer a gift to someone but he declines to accept the same, then to whom the gift belongs?” The man answered, “Where is the question? Undoubtedly, it will remain with the giver only.”
The Buddha clarified, “Since I have not accepted your abuses, they remain with you only. Why should I be perturbed?”
More often than not we are always bothered by the criticism of others. Our time is unnecessarily wasted over what others are thinking about us. We suffer from mental agony and stress even due to imaginary criticism of others which no one has made. Remaining non-reactive witness to the situations and life at large can offer an instant solution to such self-created problems. The Buddhist meditation of mindfulness teaches us to be non-reactive observer of life.
This does not mean that we should not pay any heed to the criticism. How can we progress without being alive to the feedback? The lesson is not against listening but against reacting. We should give every man a patient hearing but reserve our own judgement based on introspection.
Those who are deficient in self-esteem are usually carried away by criticism. Our own thinking must not be curbed under any circumstances. Lord Buddha never imposed his teachings on anybody. He wanted us to test, analyse and then only accept the same.
Under any circumstance, the best course in life is to observe the flux of phenomena as a non-reactive witness with absolute mindfulness either through surrender to the Almighty or through sublimation of self-pity.