Finding the Root Cause of my Inability to Accept Criticism
Here I would like to share how I have learned from Teacher's recent lecture, "Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles."
I feel very ashamed by my poor cultivation practice, yet I also feel grateful for Teacher's benevolent salvation and constant encouragement to improve. I am determined to get rid of a most fundamental problem - the one thing Teacher says we must remove - the inability to accept criticism.
Teacher pointed out to us that this is very noticeable, and a problem that has gone unresolved for a long time,:
"What is it, then? When Dafa disciples make mistakes, they do not like to be criticized. No one can criticize them, and when someone does, it sets them off. When they are right, they don't like others bringing up things they could improve on; when they are wrong, they don't want to be criticized. They get upset as soon as others criticize. The problem is becoming pretty bad." ("Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles")
I was mortified after reading these words. Ten years into my practice, Teacher still has to worry about such issues! In fact, Teacher has mentioned this problem in his recent lectures. Although I noticed it, I did not place much emphasis on it. I realize I have only understood how to do the three things in part. I thought that as long as I do the three things well and do not have an attachment to reaching consummation, I would have no problem reaching consummation. I also thought that as long as I handle the major aspects of cultivation practice well, Teacher would eliminate smaller issues for me. I even considered myself doing alright at taking criticism in my cultivation practice.
Once I compared Teacher's words to the way I've been taking criticism, I discovered that I was not doing alright at all. In fact, I was doing very poorly. When facing criticism, I often felt agitated and wanted to explain myself. Sometimes I would pretend not to be bothered by the chiding; other times I would ignite like a match (especially in front of people younger than me). Also, there were occasions where I would hold in my agitation until I exploded with anger, especially in front of my family members.
Through studying the Fa I came to understand that if I didn't remove the root cause, it would grow again, like a weed. What is the root cause of my inability to accept criticism? I tried to dig it out and eliminate it:
First of all, it is the attachment to reputation. It manifests itself by wanting to hear praise and not criticism. Is this not an attachment to "reputation?" This factor exists; through lifetimes of accumulation it becomes natural, and forms into strong notions deeply rooted in the minutest particles of one's being. I could not even uproot them after ten years of cultivation.
Secondly, it is the attachment to self, which is the twin of reputation. Because of a strong egotism and self-esteem, I've always been the top student in my class and performed outstandingly at work. I considered myself better than others. Even in my cultivation practice I thought I did better than most practitioners. As a result, I was unwilling to accept criticism, or I would accept it only superficially, and fail to correct my behavior.
Thirdly, due to the evil regime's indoctrination since early childhood, I was deeply poisoned and therefore developed a strong sense of competitiveness and contention, manifesting in the inability to accept criticism. The evil regime's propaganda has this twisted principle, something that Teacher has pointed out:
"And that's especially true when it comes to those crooked principles that the evil in China propagates. For example, they spread, if you want others to do well, you have to do well yourself first." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference," November 29, 2003)
This has naturally created the behavior that when someone criticizes me, my first thought be to say that the other person has not done well, so he or she has no right to criticize me. I would not accept his or her criticism. Teacher said,
"Many people hold on to that saying and use it to hide their own mistakes that they don't want to correct." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference," November 29, 2003)
Of course, the evil culture is being cleansed, but remnants of the CCP culture's poison is still lurking inside my most microscopic particles. This is the main reason why I could not accept others' criticism.
To summarize the above points, I believe that the core reason for the inability to accept criticism is selfishness. When others criticize me, they are touching this selfish root of mine. Recently, I gained a better understanding of Teacher wanting us to cultivate selflessness, to think of others before we think of ourselves. When we truly become selfless, could any bit of criticism disturb our hearts? If Dafa disciples "don't fight back when hit, and don't talk back when insulted," then we can do better when faced with criticism.
I hereby share Teacher's words in "Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles" to encourage fellow practitioners:
"In passing, I will tell you that this thing has become quite pronounced for us overall. With some people it has gotten so bad that nobody can say a word about them. It looks like I can't go any longer without addressing it. Some people have become like matches--one stroke and they ignite. They're like land mines--one step and they detonate. [They are acting like,] "You can't criticize me. I can't take any criticism." They no longer listen to any expression of disapproval or disagreement, whether it was meant out of good or ill will, was intentional or unintentional; they reject everything flat out, and even less do they examine themselves. It has gotten quite severe. I'm not blaming you, but from now on you all must pay attention to this. You must get to the point where you are able to take criticism, regardless of who it's from. If there is truth to it, you correct yourself, and if not, you are mindful of it. If you can stay unruffled while being criticized or chided, you are improving. (Applause)"
"Today I am raising the issue again, and with this, I am eliminating for you the physical substance that has formed. (Applause) But you need to correct the tendency you have formed--you must. Be sure to pay heed! From this point on, whoever can't take criticism is not being diligent, whoever can't take criticism is not displaying the state of a cultivator, or at least on this issue. (Applause) If someone still can't pass this test, I'll tell you, he is in a very dangerous situation, because for a cultivator this is the most fundamental thing, it's at the top of the list of things to eliminate, and it has to be eliminated. If you don't get rid of it, you won't achieve Consummation. Don't let it become that it's ordinary people doing the work of Dafa disciples. You want to achieve Consummation, not good fortune."
After studying Teacher's lecture, besides being awakened, I'm affected again by Teacher's benevolent salvation. Obviously, as Dafa disciples we have not cultivated ourselves well enough. But Teacher not only doesn't blame it on the disciples; he also helps to eliminate the physical substance related to this attachment for us. If we do not cultivate ourselves righteously, how can we face Teacher? How can we face the sentient beings?
It is my sincere hope that we can immediately eliminate the flaw of not being able to accept criticism, and let Teacher not worry.
April 9, 2006