How to respond to criticism
For an hour, at least, I sat while he told me that my life was a complete failure, and was utterly displeasing to God and my Guru.
Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple since 1948 of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi. He is the founder of Ananda Sangha, and of seven Ananda communities in America and Europe. Now 78, he has moved to India to make his Guru’s teachings known in the land of his birth: to teach the liberating meditation technique of Kriya Yoga, and to establish communities where householders and renunciates alike can seek God in the company of fellow devotees.
Many years ago, a member left our main Ananda community in California. For years he had consistently refused to contribute toward the community's maintenance. I'd allowed him to stay in hopes of encouraging an artistic talent I saw in him.
Finally however, and with my approval, our general manager told him it was no longer suitable that he not do his share. He also asked, "Why do you keep trying to tear down the good you see here with carping criticism?" The "artist" replied, "I think it's good for the community to have a gad fly."
"It may help us," our manager said, "but what is it doing for you?" The critic left rather than shoulder any responsibility for the community that had fed him for twelve years.
Afterward, he came to spray me with venom. For an hour, at least, I sat while he told me that my life was a complete failure, and was most certainly displeasing to God and my Guru. (This man himself had never accomplished anything, and never has done in the years so since then.)
It is not my nature to argue. I simply listened to him, saying nothing either in self-defense or in attack. I'm on the spiritual path to overcome my ego, not to strengthen it by disputing my critics. I feel, in fact, that people who want to speak against me are doing me a favor. What is there to protect? The ego is a delusion anyway!
After this man left the room, however, a song came to me, expressing my heart's reaction. Perhaps this song will help a few readers if ever they, too, face similar situations in their lives.
Though green summer fade, and winter draw near,
My Lord, in Your presence I live without fear.
Through tempest, through snows, through turbulent tide,
The touch of Your hand is my strength and my guide.
I ask for no riches that death can destroy.
I crave only Thee: Your love and Your joy.
The dancers will pass, the singing must end:
I welcome the darkness, with You for my Friend.
Swami Kriyananda's programme appears at 2200 hours IST on the Sadhna Channel. (For more, visit www.anandaindia.org)