Vows, commitments and modern life: Criticizing other traditions or other people

Criticizing other Mahayana traditions. 

If some of the different traditions of the Mahayana appear to be contrary to our own tradition we should not discriminate against them or criticism them without a good reason.  If we do so with a deluded motivation we incur a secondary downfall.

Generally speaking, we leave people to make their own spiritual choices.  It is not our place to judge the spiritual path of others, just as we do not wish others to judge us.  Just because another path is not what is best for us does not mean it is not best for those who follow that path.  So there is no contradiction in saying the other path is not for us, but still respect that it is the right path for somebody else.  If we all respect each other, then there are no problems.

Many people criticize Kadampas because generally speaking the “follow one tradition purely without mixing.”  Because we do not mix Kadampa teachings with non-Kadampa teachings, those who do such mixing can feel that we are being sectarian for not doing so.  The fact that we don’t do so can be taken by some as a judgment by us about other’s spiritual choices.  It is also not uncommon for Kadampas to unskillfully criticize others who do mix, thinking that people who do so are somehow inferior practitioners or doing something wrong.

The reality is this:  most people will mix.  We ourselves can decide against doing so for the reasons given, but we should never judge those who do differently than we do.  We should not feel like we need to embark upon a personal crusade to stop people from mixing.  If they ask us why we don’t do so, we can explain our reasons, but we should make it very clear that it is our own personal decision to not do so and in no way are we saying others should do as we do.  It is up to each person to decide how to approach their spiritual life.  It is true that not mixing is not being sectarian, but if we judge others who do mix then we are being sectarian and incurring this downfall of criticizing other Mahayana traditions.  We are also providing those critical of Kadampas with fodder for their wrong views about us.  It is because there are so many misunderstandings about our way of practice that we need to be unambiguous in our respect for those who practice differently than we do.  This especially includes people who come to our local centers and who participate in the on-line discussion forums. 

One area where we are justified in making a distinction when it comes to not mixing is in the selection of the teachers of Kadampa centers.  It is entirely reasonable to say that those who teach in Kadampa centers should themselves be Kadampas.  If there is only Kadampa coming into a practitioners mind, there will only be Kadampa coming out in their teachings.  If there is a mix of things going in, there will be a mix of things coming out in their teachings.  Since our centers are Kadampa centers, it is entirely reasonable that the teachings given are Kadampa teachings.  But besides this one exception, we leave people be.

Praising ourself and scorning others. 

This is similar to the first root downfall except that here we are motivated by slight pride but have no intention to deceive others.

This downfall was already explained in detail in the context of the root downfall.  The reality is this:  everytime we say anything even slightly negative or judgmental about somebody else, we are implicitly saying we are somehow better.  If we check carefully and honestly, we will see that virtually everything we say is directly or indirectly saying we are somehow better than others who make the mistakes we cite.  This is why as a general rule it is best to adopt a very simple policy of never saying anything bad about anyone ever.  No exceptions.  A corollary of this is to never say anything good about ourselves ever.  No exceptions.  If we follow these two basic rules, there is little risk of us committing this downfall.


2 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and modern life: Criticizing other traditions or other people

  1. It’s wise to adopt a practical approach. If we never say anything good about ourself, we may fall into depression and lack of confidence. We have great qualities which we must rejoice in. But not be confused to praise as in worldly concern. We do not need praise from anyone. We usually praise the self we normally see, which does not exist. It binds us to suffering. We need to praise our inner Buddha, our real self and develop sincere praise and rejoice.

    I’ve seen many people destroyed because of lack of understanding about this vow in particular. Which leads to guilt and self hatred about their practice. Just enjoy and try.

    In Highest Yoga Tantra a practitioner learns true appreciation and praise for their real self. Divine pride is essential. Cherishing our real self, likewise, is essential. Again, not to be confused with self cherishing and deluded pride.

  2. Judgement is natural. It is necessary. Suspending judgement can be practiced by using silent watcher. I judge new people all the time. I try not to believe it, until I gain evidence and reflect with a quiet mind.

    Scorning others means bypassing this and acting on habitual minds. Realising that perception does not equal ultimate truth is also helpful.

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