Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/07/2014

Reviewing Faults and Attainments

127. It is good from time to time to review one’s own faults; it is good from time to time to review another’s faults. It is good from time to time to review one’s own attainments; it is good from time to time to review another’s attainments.

Anguttara Nikaya V.159

Happy uposatha to evryone! Today’s verse which I have posted above hit me like a ton of bricks for a few reasons. The first is that I have often taken the injunction in the Dhammapada to focus solely on my own achievements and faults to be purified as the final word on the issue despite the fact that doing so would leave one with a rather lopsided and, ultimately, solipsistic view of the world. Secondly, I am surprised that the Buddha recommends that we not only review the good of others but, from time to time, review their shortcomings as well. And, yet, how could it be any other way? How can one appraise a teacher or spiritual friend without having the capacity to recognize their faults.

I feel that, for myself at least, I may have erred too far to the side of naivete as I purposefully tried to compensate for my aversive tendencies. It seems to me that one most proceed carefully when perceiving faults and to err always on the side of metta and karuna lest one harm oneself and others. Furthmore, there can be no clear-seeing when one is in the grip of hatred so it seems only reasonable that faults of any kind should be held in a tenderhearted way with the knowledge that they are a cause of suffering rather than an excuse to judge harshly or punish.


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