New Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Dealing with Criticism

Bad reputation is very powerful to use for your practice, and it should be used that way. As a Kadampa geshe once said, "If someone criticizes you, this destroys your mistakes; it blows away immediately one’s own mistakes. If you are praised, it causes pride/the ego to inflate and causes great pride." …

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Transforming bad conditions into happiness by looking at them as positive, favorable conditions is the way to make problems, bad conditions, beneficial, by using them as the path to enlightenment. How? Meditating on loving kindness and bodhichitta destroys the ego. We use them as a weapon to destroy the self-cherishing thought, which brings all obstacles. So, meditate on bodhichitta and wisdom.

In your case, use all the criticism and bad reputation, whether it is a result of your mistake or not, to destroy your ego and self-cherishing thought, which blocks one from achieving enlightenment. As long as self-cherishing abides in one’s heart, it stops one achieving enlightenment and benefiting all sentient beings. You can think of the kindness of the other person that helps you to destroy your ego. Usually, you are always supporting your ego, even developing it. Now, this person (the enemy) is helping to destroy your self-cherishing thought, so what is regarded as your enemy is really your most kind friend!

What we do is use undesirable situations, loss, etc., as experiences to be of most benefit to all sentient beings. This is not just making one’s own life emotionally happy, for some temporary peace.

There are other thought transformation teachings – so many ways you can make your life experience most beneficial for yourself and others. The essence is – if you are happy, make it beneficial for sentient beings; if you are suffering, use it as the cause to bring happiness to others. This way, whatever kind of life experience you have, use it on the path. There is no interruption to Dharma practice, and one’s life is most beneficial.

Go Tsampa said, "Others’ mistakes are one’s own mistakes. Clarify the appearance of the mistake into the deity." This means, however one is treated is the result of one’s own negative karma. Even if others create a bad reputation for you, and there is no apparent cause from your side to experience the result, still, you have to have created the cause. You can see what this yogi is saying. The second part of this technique is looking at that person as the guru, even visualizing that person in the form of a deity. This stops anger and negative emotional thoughts arising and the suffering results of those.

Karog Geshe said, "Experiencing this small suffering now finishes past negative karma, and there will be happiness in future lives. Because it finishes past negative karma, be happy for the suffering."

Excerpted from “Criticism” in Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book freely distributed by Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.