Awareness of one’s defects and shortcomings is the first step in any type of spiritual discipline or sadhana. As he makes progress in his sadhana, the aspirant comes to realize his sins and vices vividly. Eventually, they appear to be mountainous in proportions. Alarmed by this, he despairingly appeals to God; “ Lord, full of these colossal frailties, how can I ever hope to be fit to see you at all? Can I ever qualify for your darshana (vision)?”
An ordinary man may be easily provoked to anger, for instance, but he either denies it, or justifies it as a pragmatic necessity to inspire others with due awe or sense of authority. A certain sadhaka once complained that he had lately become quite prone to fits of anger on even small provocation. The fact was that he had always been so, only, with progress in sadhana, he had come to notice it and recognize it as a defect.
A marriageable youth had seen many girls one after another, to choose a bride, but, being extremely finicky, none of them would measure up to his choice. On returning home from one such ‘bride-selection’ visit, his sister who had accompanied him, asked him, “What do you think of this girl?” The youth gave the usual negative opinion. The sister who was a shrewd girl, quickly held a mirror before his face and asked, “ How does she compare with this?” The youth, perceiving that her looks far surpassed his own, had to admit the fact and agreed to accept her.
We see defects in others because we are unaware of our own. We should remember that when we see a shortcoming in another person, we have in ourselves the seed of that defect. One must, therefore, give up the habit of finding fault with others, and practise introspection of our drawbacks. To find defects in others is what the common man does, but this is inconsistent with spiritual life. A sincere spiritual seeker resorts to constant introspection. He does not notice defects in others because he is ever preoccupied with the enormous burden of his own, and in comparison, he finds others superior, even godly. This is the true spiritual attitude. Indeed, constant introspection to remove the seed of defects from oneself is a very effective spiritual exercise; and this can be achieved easily by nama-smarana.
* * * * *