Many of us have the kamma to be surrounded by close friends and even life partners who can seem like our harshest critics (well, after ourselves of course). For years I have tried to come up with ways of skillfully dealing with these people and have had some success. Yet, rereading the Simile of the Saw and taking to heart my own aspirations vis a vis Abhaya cariya practice I realized that I can and must do more.
I have to rouse right effort to check aversion as it arises and one way of doing this is to put my critic to work for me. Honestly, sometimes I go also on myself but my closest critic rarely seems to. I can reflect on whether or not she would view my reaction to anything she says or does as being in line with our running contrary to my precepts and aspirations. If it does then I am in debt to her for pointing it out and helping to train me to be a better person.
For the first time I have been able to feel real gratitude for this kind of critic and that’s no small victory. I am deeply flawed and, though just as deserving of care and concern as anyone else, I have much work to do if I don’t want to die having squandered this precious opportunity.
May we be grateful for unrelenting critics for forcing us to practice when we are too lazy to rely on ourselves.