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Taking criticism personally (or not)

Feb 06, 2002 11:19 AM
by kpauljohnson

Dear Adelasie,

It seems to me that there are two levels of "taking things 
personally" which should perhaps be distinguished in order to clarify 
the situation. Now, if someone says something like "all Scorpios are 
evil" or "everyone who likes Clinton is stupid" there is a very clear 
choice before me. As a member of those categories, I can either take 
it personally and feel the urge to defend myself/us, or I can shrug 
it off. Normally I would take the latter approach. But when someone 
says "Johnson wrote his books seeking to attack HPB for financial 
gain, and to gain notoriety" or "he is an agent of the dugpas" do I 
really have any option other than taking it personally? Don't see 
any wiggle room in that. So in the sense of perceiving oneself as 
the target of an attack, we don't always have a choice.

A choice one does have, in such a situation, is how we explain it. 
My inclination, as you have repeatedly seen here, is always to look 
for impersonal factors at work. To focus on "why is this happening 
to ME?" does indeed lead right into that lower personality tangle. 
Whereas to focus on "why does this kind of thing happen to people in 
situations like this?" puts the attention on impersonal factors. Yet 
you rather consistently argued that I ought to be looking to myself, 
to my level of spirituality, my karma, in order to explain why Dallas 
kept saying hateful things about me. It wasn't about him; it wasn't 
about fundamentalism or Theosophy or the hassles facing any author 
who writes critically about spiritual leaders; it was about me 
personally. Care to rethink that?

Another choice one has is how to interpret the behavior of those who 
have launched personal attacks on us. Do we look to personal factors 
in them; that is their level of spirituality, their mental health or 
lack thereof, their intelligence or upbringing or such? Or do we 
look to social factors, that is what interests they perceive 
themselves as serving and what support network they are connected to?
I majored in sociology so have some inclination for the latter 


When we offer a fight, we empower 
> the opposition.

Maybe the perception of others as "the opposition" is the main thing 
that empowers evil forces. When we demonize others, we introduce 
demonic energy into the situation.

When we are off balance, lost in the lower ego, we 
> betray that which is highest in ourselves. We strike out against 
the perceived threat, and the other does the same, and all sense goes 
> out of the discussion. What a waste of a great opportunity to have 
> meaningful discussion which may be of use to someone. It's the 
> age-old pattern, the pattern of war. But we can indeed do better.
There is certainly an interesting mix of folks here, and I would hope 
others might add to the discussion of how we can do better.



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