Finding Fault with Others. Points to Remember
The inner life has the capacity to contain a range of different voices, sometimes diabolically opposed to each other, as well as opposed to the voice of others, personal and public figures/organisations.
There is a very, very common issue: Our capacity to find fault with others. In such instances, we listen to one of the voices within and ignore thoughtful inner voices. We judge, criticise, ridicule, scorn, deride and undermine another person, persons or group, either in our mind or to their face or behind their backs.
This dark, unresolved voice burns up friendship, kindness and love within as much as a forest fire burns up trees. The complainer, sometimes angry and aggressive, robs themselves of happiness, friendship with others and peace of mind. They have lost the best of themselves through their identification with a polluted stream, a pattern of negativity. Sometimes heavily laden, these patterns contain a violence in them through the voice arguing, yelling or simply undercutting another.
Some people show a warm, personable friendly demeanour. The outer persona (persona from the Latin for mask) might appears light, easy going and playful. If it is a mask, it might well obscure the fault finding tendency, which focuses on dislikes over an issue, a constant nagging in the mind or worse. Inner and outer communication suffer. The dark unresolved cloud will regularly break through the apparent sunny disposition.
Many Buddhists develop loving kindness (Pali: metta) meditations to endeavour to free themselves up from their problematic voice. In these meditations, one usually cultivates initially the feeling of loving kindness towards oneself and to others. The Buddhist tradition often refers to three kinds of people in the world; the friendly, the strangers and the unfriendly. Meditators direct their metta to these three types of people. Metta meditations work exceptionally well for some people while for others the same meditations gloss over and hide the underlying negative tendency.
It is an issue worth addressing.
There is no substitute for self-knowledge – self refers to the negative voice with the notion of ‘I’ firmly embedded in the tendency. The practitioner explores the various conditions that support the fault finding voice. Such an approach constitutes the practical steps towards resolution. These reflections contributes to direct knowing about the conditions for the arising of the negativity.
- When does the fault finding blame most easily arise?
- Who do you direct the negativity towards? (Yourself, specific individuals, the collective (such as family, governments/consumerism)?
- What kind of language do you use, either within or towards, or both?
- What is the desire running through the pattern?
- What time and place does the pattern most easily arise?
- What kind of mind states precede the pattern? Tiredness, overwork, boredom, expectations, disappointments, memories?
- Do you keep your negative thoughts to yourself or express them?
- Do you keep justifying your blame towards another?
- Is there a wish to be warm and liked all the time or always feel good about everything?
- What is the difference between expression of a valid concern and fault finding tendency?
- What changes do you need to make to enable different conditions to arise for a different voice?
When we indulge in the stream of negativity or the angry outbursts, then it might be time to wash our mouth out with soap and water.
Mindfulness, vigilance and clear comprehension support the change of attitude and a genuine capacity to express our concerns in a calm and clear way. The practice of the dissolution of negativity, unhelpful, obstructive and unnecessary, contributes directly to our inner well-being and the welfare of others.
Authentic metta (friendship, kindness, love) emerges from understanding of the inner processes. We do not use metta as a substitute for understanding through ignoring the conditions for what arises.
We have the challenge to keep our voice thoughtful, and, at times, our critical voice alive. We need to be clear about the difference between expression of deep concerns and laying blame and derision on others.
May all beings explore conditions for the arising of fault finding tendencies
May all beings live with understanding
May all beings live with love and wisdom.