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Embracing Criticism

“We must feel the desire to criticize our teacher if he/she is helping us.”

There is a section in the Midrash that tells the story of how Isaiah became a prophet.

Said Isaiah, “I was walking around in my house of study and heard the Creator asking, ‘Who should I send, and who will lead my nation? I sent the prophet Micha and they hit him, I sent the prophet Amos and they called him the stutterer … Who can I send to help my people change?’”

Isaiah, knowing that he was quite ready to do the work, offered himself to the Creator for the mission Hineini Shlacheini.

The Creator then said to Isaiah, “My people are complainers, they don’t listen… Only if you accept that you are to be embarrassed, to be made into a fool and to be bitten up… Only then can you go on my behalf – otherwise you cannot do my work!”

What is it about humanity that we so often find something wrong with the spiritual leaders that are sent to help us?

When the Ego sees a teacher, or even a friend, that can help us change, it comes up with questions and complaints.

“Amos is a stutterer – if he was a prophet he would be able to speak well.”

“Micha? Everyone is beating him up, nobody is paying attention to him – he must be an idiot.”

“Moses is fighting with his wife and constantly bad-mouthing us.”

It finds flaws that make us see this person as less than, or as limited as, or even more limited than we are! Why?

Simply put, because if the Ego doesn’t find these flaws, it will lose the war that it’s fighting – the war to keep you from changing and evolving. The Ego wants you to stay the same and tune out any outside influences that may help you grow and change.

When a friend of ours comes with some level of criticism about what we are doing, the first thing that the Ego does is immediately whisper in our ear, “You? You? You are telling me? You, with this thing that is wrong with you and that other thing that is wrong with your life, are telling me how to live my life?”

This also means that if you are criticized by a teacher or a friend, and your Ego is not whispering in your ear that something is wrong with that person – then they are not helping you!

There is a spiritual law that says that if a teacher or a friend tries to help you change, your Ego must talk you out of listening to them! And if your Ego has not yet tried to talk you out of doing what your teacher or friend has asked, it means they haven’t asked you to do something important or significant enough yet.

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