Recently I found myself reacting defensively to someone being critical of me. It brought to mind the old riddle regarding “what comes first? The chicken or the egg?” In this case, what comes first, criticism or defensiveness?
Once I woke up to my defensive reaction there was an immediate thought to apologize, and to talk the matter over with the other person involved. Perhaps I could discover their motivation. After all, if they are being critical of me, perhaps I can change their view, or learn something about my bad behavior.
But this would just continue the ancient dance of “what comes first?” As with the chicken/egg analogy, neither comes first, they come together, as glued together as two sides of a coin.
Krishnamirti brought to our attention the idea: The thinker and the thought are one. The perception that “criticism is occurring” comes with the flip-side thought “it’s important not to be criticized.” As long as there is an identity of a person who could be damaged by criticism, there will be defensiveness and self-protection about “critical” ideas.
The MetaView recognizes that everything has a meaning. In this case, the experience of being criticized is expressing a defensive stance. The disturbing nature of the experience reflects that what is being perceived conflicts with the view of myself. The “view of myself” is a mental construction that has nothing to do with what is true. The “thinker” has given rise to the “thought”: I’m being criticized.
The only way out of this house of mirrors is to realize that we are not what we think.
But, we can become aware of the thoughts that are dominating our view of reality.
Thank God there is Divine Love. Love is not something we “think,” and it is not something we “create.” The qualities of Love are the context from which life flourishes. It is the underlying substance of life. Divine Love is interested in understanding, listening, and responding to real issues.
Recognizing that critical thinking has taken over the moment, makes it possible to let Love. Instead of defending or criticizing, one listens for the underlying issue and seeks to respond. This is loving.