The spirit of criticism seems to be rampant amongst us; we criticize and are criticized at every turn. That we are criticized matters not at all, but that we should criticize and condemn matters very much, for by so doing we attract to ourselves the faults that we condemn, and make a hard, cold atmosphere around us that prevents the inflow of spiritual life and thought. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth." The servant—the personal which includes the physical, that we are so ready to criticize. The master—the soul which we overlook too often because it is not manifested as we should like in the kindly courtesies of daily life. If we could see into the Holy of Holies of the hearts of our comrades, we should judge more kindly; we should see that their purposes are the same, their difficulties similar and their efforts perhaps greater and more evenly maintained. It needs the eye of Omniscience to see all the past making of a soul and "judge righteous judgment." The Great Ones do not condemn any man.
Yet there is a criticism that is good. Many great men have been helped by kindly criticism. The word seems to have degenerated: it originally meant "the declaring of what is just." The history of our race is often hidden in words of this kind. As the inner power of seeing develops, unless guided by true unselfishness, it goes astray; hence the now double meaning of the word. The difference between the modern critic who condemns and the critic who discerns and pronounces just judgment may be compared to a wasp and a bee—the one gathers poison, or what is turned to poison by the action of the acid in its own nature, and the other honey from the same flower. We are expected to cultivate the discriminating principle. A great deal of the discipline of life is to teach us to judge correctly by contact with "good and evil." We grow wise by the development of the true spirit of criticism. Gain "subtle perception, right judgment, the discerning power." It is a good thing to possess the quality of seeing, but we need not blurt out unwisely what we see. lf we live in touch at all with our own souls we must see, but we must be careful that the power which should be synthetic does not become too analytic. Though seeing the imperfections of others we must "center our gaze on our own shortcomings," and by correcting them in ourselves help others to conquer theirs.
Seeing as far as we can through the darkness into our own hearts, and the human hearts around us, we can sum up ourselves and each other impersonally and impartially, and our duty is plain—to neutralize evil and intensify good. We should not fear criticism. There is no greater privilege for those who are striving by self-knowledge to become better instruments for Truth than to be criticized by someone who knows, and even the kindly criticism of a friend, who perhaps can see a little farther than we, is helpful.
Yet the true criticism is within us. "Seek communion and intercourse only with the God within your own soul, heed only the praise or blame of that Deity that can never be separated from your own soul, as it is verily that God itself, called the Higher Consciousness? lf our eyes are turned to that inner center of light there will be no fear of unjust criticism.
Let thy judgment be of the heart and the magic of its power will help to neutralize the evil that thou would'st condemn in thy brother.