Sadhana or Spiritual practices get disrupted in two ways. They are through 1) Praise and 2) Insults. If these two factors are kept under check, spiritual practice can give us deeper and better results. Praise reflects the amount of Ego that is boiling within us, to get satisfied and bloated, just as a hard yellow boil that is getting ripe. We expect that other people should call us “good” or shower praise on us, in some form. When somebody praises us, it results in the experience of some sort of fulfillment or happiness. When somebody praises thus “Sir, only you could have achieved this feat”. We reply “Oh no, I am not that capable, it’s because of your support I did It.” although we tend to shy away praise through empty words, our hearts seek these very words for our ego-gratification. Then we form an opinion about the one praising us. In our hearts we may think “Oh he is a nice guy, he understands my worth.”
On the other hand if someone demeans or insults us, we go mad and lose our sense of balance. This loss of balance causes anger in our hearts. One gets hurts and injured very deeply, through just words hurled against us. One has to think in quietude “Is there any shortcoming of the world, which does not exist in me?” We are filled with Lust, Anger, Greed, bodily attachment, self-pride, envy and a host of other shortcomings that organize our life for us. Whether the person is a millionaire or a bonded laborer, all of them have these critical shortcomings ingrained within them. The reason for these problems to exist within us, is because
1) We are under the grip of Maya, the great cosmic illusion.
2) We are interested in attaining great spiritual happiness.
Since we are under the grip of Maya, we consider our body to be our real self. This causes a major error, in the way we look at the world and the way we operate in the world. Looking for spiritual happiness is natural and eternal within us. Hence our search for such happiness continues without a break. A combination of the above two positions within us, keeps us going the wrong way and complicates our very survival. We are ready to lie, cheat, manipulate and do a host of other types of scheming that religion considers unethical or wrong. Although everybody resorts to unfair means, no one readily accepts these faults and has 101 reasons to defend oneself. This is because of the strong unyielding ego. People have developed the skill to get themselves called “good”, by others. For this people have toiled and garnered knowledge. What should I say so that the other man gets fooled and yields to my diktats. This is what people look forward to as they progress to attain their greed by implementing the mechanism of manipulation. Nobody cares to reform but is more enthusiastic to hear well about themselves from others anyway.
Insult is another area which can never be avoided. However good one may behave or expect well from others, one may get insulted. But if one is not able to handle insult, one shall be angered in such a way that even basic intelligence is lost. This also happens because of ego, which only sees “good” within oneself and refuses to accept any insult. People out of envy, even do not spare saints and sages and try to trap them because of the poison of envy in their hearts. Prahlad Maharaj’s demon father Hiranyakashyipu was envious of his own son and planned to murder him, because the son would not accept his father as God and instead depended on Lord Narayana as his benefactor. The ones who are free from praise and insult, who do not look for conformity from society, are the ones who have truly transcended matter. Spiritual discipline can yield results only if one consciously protects oneself from reacting either to praise or to insult. Till the time one is under the supervision of the power of Maya, one can never be relieved from the tendencies of hurt and elation born out of insult and praise respectively. Man is happy pointing fingers at others but hardly looks at oneself, because he is too scared to look at himself and face reality.
One can take the following steps so that praise and insult do not affect one’s inner mood and spiritual discipline proceeds with favorable results
1) Acceptance at point blank that one is full of faults and that only the Lord can help. One has to make prayers of surrender to the Lord daily recognizing one’s inner faults.
2) When somebody praises us, immediately transfer that praise unto the Lord and one should shirk of every bit of residue in one’s heart by only remembering the Lord and passing on praise to Him.
3) When someone insults you, one has to feel the insult deeply and find oneself worth the insult and much more thereby accepting the insults as a much needed tonic to puncture the painful boil of ego that is unnecessarily exploding within us.
4) Continuing to take a humble position in the heart and to consider oneself as the servant of the Lord and attribute everything to Him; considering that it is by the Lord’s will that praises and insults are being hurled at us. One should consider insults and praises as great teachers whose intention is actually to puncture the ego rather than to nurture it.