Charles Hogg presents the methods to see the specialities in the self and others
every street there is a Mrs. Judgement and a Mrs. Honesty. One day
Mrs. Honesty decided to visit Mrs. Judgement. As soon as Mrs. Honesty
arrived, Mrs. Judgement began to complain about her new neighbours, a
family of foreigners.
“She is a terrible housekeeper”, said Mrs.
Judgement, “you should see how dirty her children are... and as for her
house! It is almost a disgrace to be living in the same
neighbourhood. Just take a look at the clothes she has hung on the
line, see the black streaks on the sheets and towels.
Mrs. Honesty walked up to the window to look, “Actually the clothes are quite clean, my dear. The streaks are on your window!”
Mrs. Judgement, how often am I deceived by my own dirty windows into
projecting my own ‘misjudgements’ externally, fully convinced that I am
seeing the truth? The original seed of misjudgement colours everything
I see, so each interaction with my neighbours reinforces my attitude.
Until a Mrs. Honesty arrives. Only then do I look closely at my
eye-windows. As I begin the process of cleaning the dirt from the
outside of my windows I notice something interesting. There is also
dirt on the inside. The dirt outside is the product of external
influences, atmospheres, opinions and attitudes. The inside dirt is of
past experiences, perceptions and assumptions unconsciously colouring
Just stop for a minute, and reflect on the feelings
of judgement and self-righteousness that arise in you, as in all of
us. We are aware that these feelings leave us more separate, more
isolated, more frightened. And yet within all of us we have the great
voice of the critic or the judge. Everyone is on trial. Whether we
verbalise our judgmental thoughts or keep them for our own private
consumption, others do feel their effect. Reflect again on their
opposite. Remember the feelings of forgiveness or understanding.
Remember how you wish to be treated when you have made a mistake.
Remember how you felt when you let go of someone’s past and offered
them a fresh start. Just imagine the healing in relationships if I
have the humility to let go of judgement.
My grandmother died a
few years ago at the age of ninety-four. During her life she spent only
one day in the hospital—at the age of ninety-two to have a cataract
removed. She had a healthy, happy life and was loved by all. During
one of my last visits, it occurred to me that much of her obvious
contentment came from her ability to always tune into the good in
others. They responded to her with the same feelings. In a natural
way it created a life of giving and taking love. It seems there is a
terrible price we pay for the eyes of judgement and criticism. We lose
precious love from other hearts.
How do I feel when I see the
specialities of others? I feel good about myself. How do I feel when
I see my own specialities? Even better. But is it easy? Many times I
have taken part in workshops where all participants are asked to make a
list of their positive qualities and also a list of weaknesses they
would like to change. The list of weaknesses is easy, but when it
comes to strengths, almost all of us find it difficult to write even a
few. Can I say I really know myself? Often what we write down are
talents and skills, what I do or what I have learned, rather than those
character traits that are unique to me.
How do I discover my specialities?
an experiment. Close your eyes and gently drift beyond your body. Now
through your mind’s eye look back at yourself. As an observer of the
person sitting below what do you see? What are your specialities?
Think deeply about your inner motives, how you treat others, the things
you value most. A list of specialities will begin to grow. Don’t just
leave them as one word. Expand on them so the depth of your
specialities is revealed.
An interesting thing can happen as you
go through this process. Perhaps a little guilt or embarrassment
enters: “Am I deluding myself? Has my ego taken over?” Somehow we
have created in-built barriers that do not allow us to enjoy
self-appreciation. Common sense tells me, if I can’t see the
specialities in myself it is almost impossible to see them in others.
My in-built barrier emanates from a deep lack of self-worth that tells
me that I have no value. Breaking through this barrier is at the heart
of the spiritual process. As I set myself free from this inner
paralysis, my own intrinsic goodness becomes naturally apparent. Not
only do my strengths become apparent, but my vision on my weaknesses is
one of compassion. I am freed from the jail of hopelessness. I can
When I lack love and respect for myself, it manifests
externally as arrogant disapproval of others’ weaknesses and mistakes.
My own flagging self-respect is bolstered through dwelling on the
weaknesses of others. A friend of mine worked as a news reporter for
one of the main TV networks in Sydney. He often wondered why we rush
home each night to watch the evening news which is a litany of
negativity, pain and tragedy. Research showed that when we watch
others suffering from the comfort of our lounge rooms, we don’t feel so
bad about our own lot. It is unconscious, but a very strange way of
feeling better about ourselves.
How many new philosophies and
technologies appear on the market each year trying to encourage leaders
and managers to improve their game? I feel the most powerful tool of
any leader is positive vision towards those he or she is working with.
Here positive vision means an inner attitude of trust and respect, and
acknowledging the specialities of colleagues. If people receive a
double message; what they hear being different from what they feel,
they will always trust their feelings. In other words, I can’t hide my
inner attitude. If I carry mental criticism of those I live or work
with, no matter how much I verbally encourage them they will never
fully trust me. If I see the specialities of those around me it is a
natural form of empowerment.
In learning the art of seeing
specialities in others we need to apply the first Law of Spirituality,
which says we are responsible for our own experiences; if I see the
negative in others I feel unhappy; if I see the positive I feel happy.
It is up to me to decide. To justify the way we feel we have become
highly skilled at the Art of Blame. It is a skill we have refined over
a long time to escape our conscience. The Media often seems to
encourage this skill by glorifying intelligence as the ability to
analyse weaknesses in others. With calculated intent the character of
another is pulled apart. We learn this skill and pass it onto others.
The great irony of the whole process is that I become the target. I am
deeply hurt. We forget another Law of Spirituality, that of cause and
effect. I will reap the fruit of my attitudes. It makes it even more
important to consciously educate myself to see the specialities in the
self and others.
It is often hardest to see the specialities in
those I am familiar with: my family, friends and work colleagues.
Below are some exercises that have helped me improve the Art of Window
Exercise 1 Virtue Inventory
diary I keep one section where I write the names of those closest to
me. During a working day or at home when I notice a speciality or I
learn something from someone, I make a note of it in my diary. It is
like an inventory of their good qualities, and it can help me at a
later date. When I become influenced by one of their negative
qualities I can then refer to my diary and rectify the balance. I am
reminded of the good in the other and not consumed by their mistake or
Exercise 2 Acting not Reacting
there is a person who has certain personality traits that upset or
disturb me, I make that person my teacher. Why? Because their company
will make me change. They make me aware of my own negative reactions.
They teach me to act and not react.
Exercise 3 Editing my Memory Tape
going to bed I replay the day’s activities on the video of my mind. If
I am carrying negative feelings towards someone let me resolve them by
forgiving that person from my heart. I don’t only erase the negative
feelings, but edit in something positive, so I consciously remember a
speciality of that person, which will remain recorded in my
sub-conscious. I then go to sleep and wake up much lighter.
Exercise 4 Seeing the Intentions
method of learning and holding the specialities of others in my mind is
to see the intention and not the action. Sometimes people do make
mistakes, or maybe I disapprove of the way they do things. If I focus
on the activity then I will get upset. However, if I see a sincere
motive, I can maintain an attitude of love or acceptance which will
enable me to resolve disagreements respectfully.
Is this kind of
thinking a bit naive? Do I see only good and remain blind to the
negative? No, the art of seeing specialities means to see both the
positive and the negative but then to let go of the negative. Why
should I add to the negativity? Let my response to others’ weaknesses
be with compassion rather than anger or hatred.
On the path of personal development and spiritual growth, the Art of Window Cleaning is essential.
Charles Hogg is Director of Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centres in Australia.