Osho on Criticism

Question – Beloved Osho, Why do I like so much to criticize people and complain against life?

Osho – Everybody likes it. To criticize people, to complain against people, gives you a good feeling. Criticizing others, you feel you are higher; complaining about others, you feel you are better. It is very ego fulfilling. And I am saying almost everybody does it. A few people do it out loud, a few people do it just within themselves, but the enjoyment is the same.

Only rarely are there people who don’t criticize, who don’t complain; those are the people who have dropped their egos. Then there is no point — why should you bother about it? It is none of your business, it no longer pays you. The ego was helped, nourished.

Hence my emphasis is: drop the ego. With the dropping of the ego, you will find almost a whole world disappearing. The whole world that was knit around the ego falls away completely, and you start seeing people in a new light. Perhaps the same person that you might have criticized in the same situation… instead of criticizing him you feel a great compassion for him, a great love, a deep desire to help. The same person and the same situation you would have complained against, now your eyes are different; you see things differently. Perhaps you will see that in his place in this situation you would have behaved in the same way, there is nothing to complain about.

Your outlook will become more human, more friendly… a deep acceptance of people as they are. You know only some part of them; you don’t know their whole life. And it is not good to decide from a small fragment about the whole person. That small fragment may be absolutely fitting and right in the whole context. But the situation is this: it is very easy to criticize. It does not need much intelligence.

I have often told a story of Turgenev’s, THE FOOL. In a village, a young man is very much disturbed because the whole village thinks he is an idiot. A wise man is passing through the village and the young man goes to him and says, “Help me! For twenty-four hours a day I am criticized; whatever I do I am criticized. If I don’t do anything I am criticized. If I speak I am criticized, if I don’t speak I am criticized. I don’t know any way out.”

The wise man said, “Don’t be worried….” He whispered the secret in his ear, and told him, “After one month I will come back. Meet me then and tell me how things are going.”
The young man went to the marketplace and started working on the formula given by the wise man.

Somebody said, “What a beautiful sunset!”
And he said, “What is beautiful in it? Prove what is beautiful in it!”
The man who had said it was a beautiful sunset was shocked. It was a beautiful sunset, but what was the proof? Is there any evidence? Do you know what beauty is? Everybody knows, but nobody can prove it.

The man remained silent. Everybody started laughing. And everybody said, “Strange, we used to think this man was an idiot. He is a great intellectual.”

This was the formula given by the old man: criticize anything; just roam about the village watching and when anybody says anything, does anything, criticize it. And particularly criticize things which are taken for granted and nobody questions. Somebody uses the word `God’ — immediately catch hold of him: “Where is God? What nonsense are you talking about?” Somebody talks about love — catch hold of him: “What is love? Where is love? Put it here in front of everybody!”

Somebody would say, “Love is in the heart.”
And he would say, “No, there is nothing in the heart. You can go and ask any surgeon — in the heart there is nothing like love. There is only a blood-circulating system which just pumps blood and purifies it. What does it have to do with love?”

After one month the old man came back. By that time the idiot had become a wise man. He touched the old man’s feet and he said, “You are great! That trick worked; now the whole village thinks I am a wise man.”

The old man said, “Just remember one thing: don’t assert anything from your side, so nobody can criticize you. Let them assert things; you just criticize and complain. And always be aggressive, never be defensive. Don’t take a defensive attitude. Attack, be aggressive, criticize each and everybody, and they will all worship you.”

And the idiot becomes the wise man. It does not need much intelligence to criticize or to complain. And cheaply you become wise; cheaply you become very intelligent.

One of my professors… He used to teach me logic. Within a few days I found out that even if I mentioned the name of a book which did not exist, a fictitious writer, he would immediately criticize it: “I have read that book, and there is nothing in it.”

I went to the vice-chancellor and I told him the whole thing. I said, “This is sheer dishonesty, because first he criticized those who have really written books. And seeing his attitude — that he criticizes everybody, I suspected that he had not read them but was just trying to show that he is so well-read, so wise, so intelligent. So I tried a few fictitious names and he criticized them also. He said: `There is nothing in those books. Those writers know nothing.'” And I said, “Those writers don’t exist. Those books don’t exist!”

The vice-chancellor said, “This is strange. I used to think that man was a responsible man.”

I said, “Call him in sometime, and I will drop in casually, by the way.” I wrote down three or four names of books which don’t exist, have never existed and will never exist, with writers who are just fictitious. I gave those names to the vice-chancellor and I told him, “I will come when he is here and we will talk, and just by the way you bring up these names and see what his reaction is.”

And he brought up those names and the professor immediately said, “Don’t waste time. Those are all ordinary, mediocre writers, and the books they have written have nothing original in them.”
The vice-chancellor could not believe his eyes. He said, “Do you know that these four books do not exist at all? Neither have these four men ever existed. Why are you criticizing them?”
And before the vice-chancellor, he became afraid. He said, “Never existed? How did I get the idea that….”

I said, “Don’t try to befool anybody, because I have been asking you about other books which have not existed. This was only a proof. I wanted to show the vice-chancellor that a professor should at least be sincere enough to acknowledge that he has not read a particular book.”

I said to the vice-chancellor, “What kind of respect does this man want from us? My feeling is that he has not read anything; he has simply read Turgenev’s story, THE FOOL.”

I had brought the book, and I read the story to the vice-chancellor. And I said, “This man is the idiot from this story. You should make him alert that if it happens again in the class, we are going to boycott him completely. Either he will have to find the book and prove…. He never even goes to the library!”

I had looked into all the records before I went to the vice-chancellor. The professor had never been to the library. Under his name — and he had been in the university for ten years — not a single book was issued. And this man was ready to criticize anybody.

I said, “A wise man, an intelligent man is always humble.”
Your question about why we are so ready to criticize, to complain is very simple. The psychology behind it is that this is the simplest way, the cheapest way to prove that you are somebody special, that you know more. But in fact you are simply proving that you are the idiot of Turgenev and nobody else.

Be humble in the world of wisdom. Before criticizing anybody, look into the fact from all directions, from all angles, from all possible viewpoints, and you will be surprised: there is very little that can be criticized or complained about. And if you pay that much attention, then whatever you criticize will be accepted, and accepted with gratitude because it is not to fulfill your ego; it is just to help the other person on the path. But you have to do so much work.

One of my professors had written his doctoral thesis on Shankara and Bradley. I told him, “I have read the thesis, and now I am studying everything possible about Shankara and Bradley before I say anything about your thesis.”

He said, “You are strange, because I have given my thesis to many professors and they have all given their opinions.”
I said, “I cannot give you my opinion in such a cheap way. I will look at all the sources you have looked into; I will look into other sources that you have not looked into.” And it took me almost six months to study Shankara and Bradley.

When I gave my opinion to him he said, “My God, it is good that you were not one of my examiners; otherwise, I would never have been able to get the doctorate. I worked on it for six years, and in six months you have gone through all the sources that I have referred to. You have even gone to other sources which I have not even heard of….”

I said, “Your treatise is juvenile, it is written by an amateur. Shankara and Bradley are very mature philosophers of the East and West. You have not paid enough respect to these two geniuses. You have done a clerical job. You have looked at a few books of Shankara, a few books of Bradley, taken a few pieces from here, from there, and your thesis was ready. Your thesis does not contribute a single original point. And unless a thesis contributes an original point, it does not deserve a doctorate; it is at the most a beautiful essay. You can publish it as a book, but not for a doctorate.” But he was a humble man; he accepted it.

He said, “You are right. I myself was feeling that I had not done them justice. Six years were not enough to cover Bradley’s whole life and Shankara’s whole life. These two are the very highest peaks of genius; six years are not enough. But nobody pointed it out to me, not even my examiners. The examiners will not point it out because to do that they would have had to read it, they would have had to go through the whole thing. Who bothers? In fact, perhaps some of their students gave me the marks and the examiners have not even looked at the thesis.”

Nobody is interested in praising anybody, in finding those qualities which everybody has… Nobody is ready to help those qualities grow; everybody is afraid — if all are growing, what about him? His whole concern is that his ego should go on becoming bigger, and the easier way is to criticize everybody, to complain against everything: Be negative, make negativity your very approach. And for this you don’t need intelligence, any idiot can do it.

But to be really critical, one has to be very compassionate, very loving. And one has to be ready to devote time and energy and intelligence. Then it is not criticism, then it is not inimical, it is not antagonistic; it is a friendly suggestion, a sympathetic approach. Everyone here should learn to be sympathetic. Your meditation should help you, not to criticize but to appreciate. And if you are intelligent enough, you can appreciate in such a way that whatever you wanted to criticize will be understood without being said.

Source – Osho Book “Beyond Enlightenment”

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