“Feedback Is On The Action, Not On You”

by Aranyakananda

The title of this post is inspired by a quote I read recently from a yogi giving a talk on detachment. He used to soft term “feedback” when we all know he meant “criticism”. We dwell on both positive and negative feedback and tend to attach either one onto our selves, or self-worth. But I think criticism, or what we perceive to be negative because of our ego, is the one that we dwell on most.

We receive such feedback and one of the first thoughts that crosses our minds is that “I am a bad person” because someone had to take the time to point out this thing to me about my self.

Hinduism teaches one to separate the action from our individuality, because we are not the actual doer when it comes down to it. I like this outlook, but it concerns me that it could be taken in a manner by which the person committing a heinous act might attempt to absolve himself from responsibility for the act. And this tends to be looked upon as a contradiction. If I do something great, I am not the doer so I am supposed to give over all the glory to the Lord, right? “Prabhu ki Jaya!”, as it were. But if I screw up, that’s on me. No?

Well, not really. You’re supposed to give over the fruits of any action to God, “good” or “bad”. Keeps you from getting a big head, but it also keeps you from calling yourself a “sinner” and getting stuck in all sorts of spiritual quagmire.

However, even in the case of a criminal, the feedback would still be on the act. Retribution for a murder, say. Legal action taken against a murderer has nothing to do with the Eternal Self. Brahman is not touched by the goofy shit we cook up to do to one another. This retribution merely speaks to the act. Murder is a punishable offense in our society and as such, one is punished for carrying out said act. It has nothing to do with you and it is very egocentric to think differently.

But if the act has nothing to do with me, isn’t this bordering on predetermination? And if so, where does karma come in? Again, no, and it all depends on attachment to the fruits of act. And I have to assume that one detached enough to see himself as one with Brahman would not commit a murder in the first place, simplifying this whole thing.

I could talk myself in circles on this point and could complicate it more than it is. But I won’t. I’ll let the dialogue begin on this sticky issue.

Jai Hari Aum

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One Response to “Feedback Is On The Action, Not On You”

  1. Dhrishti says:

    If someone asks for feedback, it is not automatically meant to be interpreted as criticism. Some people welcome all so-called feedback, whether others think it’s criticism or not, because that’s dialogue. 🙂

    The rest of your post, as you mention, is a bit circular. I don’t know that I can really add anything to it, but in regard to Hinduism’s relationship to predeterminism – People who focus on only part of the karmic picture will say Hinduism supports predeterminism. The only wiggle room I’ll give this is that we’re all eventually destined to return to the same Source. But I think that’s not the same.

    A “big picture” understanding of the Karma principle negates the idea of anything being predetermined. Predetermination essentially ignores cause/effect relationships. Since karma hinges on cause/effect workings, everything leading up to the current experience is (was) our choice and everything that happens after the current experience is similarly our choice, which reaches into our future in the same manner – and the cycle repeats, carrying over from one life until the next. That is, until, as your post informs, we begin to sever our connection with karma by not connecting ourselves with the fruits of action, and participate less and less in Maya’s cosmic Lila.

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