- The need for self-criticism
- Two kinds of fools
- Self-deception is the greatest of deception
- Wise man conscious of the limitations
- Self-knowledge through self-examination
- Sifting process of investigation
- A big cause of our decay
A wise man always subjects him to self-examination. Every man in this world has strength as well as weakness. Therefore, everyone should practice self-criticism in a mood of humility and find out his limitations as well as capabilities. Humility is the condition of wisdom. It is said about Newton the greatest mathematicians of England, that, in spite of his deep and vast knowledge of Science, he used to say, “I am just picking pebbles on the shore of the sea of knowledge.” Stephen Leacock, the well-known political economist of Canada, in his Model memories, speaks of an eminent professor, who had worked for fourteen years on the subject of Machiavelli, the great political thinker of Italy, when the professor published his Book on Machivelli, the book was declared by competent critics an immature and full of wrong judgment. Now the professor who was convinced of the justice of the review was an example of wisdom and humility.
In this world of ours, most men are fools. The fools in human society may be divided under two heads: First those who are really ignorant but always think that they know much and secondly, those who know much and yet think that they know little. The first group of fools may be described as a set of inspired fools while the second group of fools is, in reality, philosophers in disguise.
The fools of the first type are numerous. We often see them on the political platforms. They play upon the feelings of the mob and mislead them. They think that they understand the deeper political problems of the country in the international context. But the case is just the reverse. They freely make use of cheap rhetoric and other ordinary arts of capturing the mob’s minds. They are caught by self-deception. They have no insight to understand their real possibilities. They are inspired fools who think that they know much but, in reality, know little and are fooled to the top of their bent.
Self-deception is the greatest of deceptions. The secret forces of the unconscious mislead and deceive man in the different spheres of life. A man who says that he does not like flattery often really likes it. There are many people who having saved some money met with disappointment. It is a commonplace occurrence that many students in the several universities of Pakistan take up subjects for which they have no aptitude and meet with failure at the examinations. They ruined their lives because they did not try to discover their real capabilities. Their activities were not constructively criticized. So they brought dull results, which marred their precious lives.
A wise man is he, who is ever conscious of the limitations of the mind and walks cautiously on the pathway to reality. The English poet Cowper rightly remarks.
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much!
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more
Self-Examination is one of the first steps towards spiritual power. If we desire to build a personality we must first know ourselves, and that in no superficial manner and with no shadow of hypocrisy. There must be no slipping over errors in thought or action. Let us be true and straightforward with ourselves in this matter.
Are we prepared to call a spade a spade? Are we ready to acknowledge that we are selfish where we have been considering our own happiness regardless of the happiness of others? Are we prepared to call all our weaknesses, of whatever sort, by their true name? Are we prepared not to gild them with fancy names to suit our egotism?
Then the first thing we have to do is to discover all those things, which are not in accordance with truth. And this can be discovered by self-examination. Let us know that no wrong thinking can bear the fruits of right thinking. If the fountain be bitter at its source, then the water that flows from it be bitter also. We must clean the fountain. We must begin at the very source of life. We must make the thoughts of our hearts acceptable and true, for it is the only way.
There is no being or doing or attaining, apart from thinking. There can neither be growth or progress apart from self-knowledge. Self-knowledge only comes through self-examination. Be perfect honest with a firm determination in our self-analysis and judgment. We must begin by a thorough examination of our minds and wherever there has been wrong thinking, it must be utterly and mercilessly condemned.
We must put our every motive through the sifting process of investigation and stick to it until we are perfectly satisfied; it is good in essence and intentions. The nation that acts upon selfexamination process rises in the world. In the past Israel were a people self-deluded.
A big cause of our decay is that many things are held sacred and we have no courage to criticize them. For example, clergymen are responsible for diffusing the crime of self-deprecation and we cannot speak against them. How often we hear in prayer meetings the constant criticizing of one’s self! People call themselves miserable sinners instead of the men and women God made. Let the church be criticized and we must know that Man is not made to whine and apologize and crawl.