It sounds noble, as it is appealing – to practice a higher level of criticism that is not directed by objective. There is hardly an offering of criticism today that is not directed by objective, not subject to some personal interest, not contaminated by some ulterior motive. It might even be opined that it is not possible to have criticism without at least some objective. As soon as there is a belief, there is an attachment. When there is an attachment, there is an objective at the conscious or sub-conscious level. Therefore, the highest form of criticism is humanly unattainable. Each human has some belief, as one should have too. If nothing else, a person is quite naturally willing to believe in their being a reality, the need to breathe, to find companionship, to have a purpose in life, to have security etc. Each of these places a limitation through belief. Each belief, in turn, bends the objectives of any person. So, whatever criticism we may offer, it is bound to be within the confines of our humanity.
We live in a time period when critical thinking – criticism is a part of it – is highly valued. In the theoretical stage itself, it should be possible to weed out all the flaws in an idea before it is thought ready for practical implementation. Once the practical implementation has started, some irreversible damage might already have been done. It might also be too late to reverse the direction, or even set an idea on a different course. This becomes evident in the case of ideas that are very large and spread over a diverse society. Can you think of such ideas? Are country, religion, and many social constructs not examples of such ideas? What can truly bring improvement, and is such possible? With this in mind, let us take a look at the concept of higher criticism.
Is it wrong to take sides while exercising the powers of criticism?
Having already considered the human impossibility of not having criticism apart from belief, one must accept the reality of taking sides. It is not possible to be absolutely impartial. What is absolute impartiality? Is it the absence of beliefs, of morals, of goals? Would it be desirable?
For a human to rise above belief, desire, and all other human bondage is at best a temporary illusion. Even if someone becomes a guru of spiritual thought, he then finds himself eventually attached to a student or a number of his students. If not, the severe detachment produces the kind of teachings which the students will find impracticable. When there is an absolute detachment from the world, there is only an attachment to life. When the attachment to life itself is finished, then death must follow. This cannot be a justifiable human aspiration. All such fantasizing is indeed anti-life, and it is sure to lead to destruction. One loves his or her own life, and also must have a similar respect for the life of others. There has to be the reason beyond the power of life itself to validate a way of thinking that detaches a human being from life.
In the exercise of criticism, we then find ourselves in a difficult place. If it is okay to have objectives, then how deeply does one maintain his leaning toward those? For the extreme difference illustrated by heaven and hell, during the time of crisis, one attaches to either heaven or to hell. Those are the final destinies. Even if a human being were not to believe in these destinies as being reward or punishment from the Supreme God, there is still an effort to replicate the same right here in our limited, physical existence. Indeed, all human excellence in good or evil comes from the desire for heaven or hell. Therefore, the highest form of criticism known to man seeks heaven and avoid hell at all costs.
Criticism that rises above heaven and hell
Ah, but there is an ability to criticize that rises above heaven and hell! It is in an attachment to the very God, the Creator who has made all things. There are a language and ideas that simply lie outside the human realms visited by the mind. There is an absolute detachment. There no longer is an attachment left – to appreciate or to condemn. This being the final stage, one can perceive the universe and not have any earthly limitations and no desires left. Could it be said, that such a person has risen above the quarrels and fights of this world, risen above criticism itself!
So, as long as we have this world, creatures, God, Devil, heaven, and hell, we will have criticism. It may not even be the finding of a fault, but just knowing that faults will always exist. And since faults are to exist in everyone and everything that is beneath God, then it is wise to learn contentment. Contentment lets us get along with faults. In a place between heaven and hell – as our life is on earth with all other creatures – we can choose to be content with having neither tasted the best nor having experienced the worst. This will restore a balance. This balance brings peace. It promotes preservation. Otherwise, men will always fight in search of a heaven and keep finding hell. Perhaps, what we seek is not of our own making. It definitely is not of our own making!