Even as we find it difficult to change ourselves, we find fault with all others, and are impatient with their failures. We criticize, and we say unkind words behind their back.When I was in school, my teacher must have noticed my habit of being critical about others’ actions. He told me of Bayazid, the sufi master, and what he writes in his autobiography.The young Bayazid was always seen as a revolutionary, who could suffer no fools, and wanted to change the world. “Oh God, give me strength and energy to change the world,” he would constantly pray. Many years later, he realized that though he had tried, but he had perhaps not succeeded in changing even one person.From then on, Bayazid changed his prayer. “Oh God, give me strength and energy to change my family,” became his new and fervent request.
After many years, he understood that despite his best attempts, his family members continued to do as they pleased, despite his constant counsel.Much advanced in age, Bayazid now changed his prayer again. “Oh God, give me strength and energy to change myself,” he asked. “That is where you should have begun. It is late, but you can commence now,” his mind echoed with a cosmic whisper. Bayazid began his spiritual ascent from that day onwards.Guru Granth Sahib gives us guidance that instead of slandering others, we must instead look at our own shortcomings. Sekh Fareed, the holy dervish, says this to himself:
Your clothes(body) are tarnished, and the demeanor is faulty;
I wander around full of sins, and people call me a dervish—a holy man!
With this clear understanding, Sekh Fareed has the following advice for us:
Fareed, if you have a keen understanding, then do not write black marks against others.
Bow your head, and look underneath your own collar instead.