It is easy to see the failings of others, while overlooking the issues within oneself. Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount, recounted in the New Testament of the Bible, exhorted his followers to not judge others but to look within, and noted ‘And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’

For the spiritual practitioner, there is a recognition that changing human nature takes place within oneself, not by controlling or overpower others, but by effectuating change in the thoughts, emotions, feelings, actions and responses one has to energies and events and relations that impact one’s own life.

This is a constant, ongoing matter of review and change, as there are numerous aspects to the being, and they do not all agree with one another, and sometimes vary from moment to moment themselves. Thus a constant observation and vigilance is required.

The more one does this inner review, and the more one recognises the issues that lie within oneself, the less apt one is to judge others harshly or condemn others for their actions.

The Mother writes: “One can see, when one studies oneself very attentively…. For example, if you observe yourself, you see that one day you are very generous … generous in your feelings, generous in your sensations, generous in your thoughts and even in material things; that is, you understand the faults of others, their intentions, weaknesses, even nasty movements. You see all this, and you are full of good feelings, of generosity. You tell yourself, ‘Well… everyone does the best he can!’ — like that.”

“Another day — or perhaps the very next minute — you will notice in yourself a kind of dryness, fixity, something that is bitter, that judges severely, that goes as far as bearing a grudge, has rancour, would like the evil-doer punished, that almost has feelings of vengeance; just the very opposite of the former! One day someone harms you and you say, ‘Doesn’t matter! He did not know’ … or ‘He couldn’t do otherwise’ … or ‘That’s his nature’ … or ‘He could not understand!’ The next day — or perhaps an hour later — you say, ”He must be punished! He must pay for it! He must be made to feel that he has done wrong!’ — with a kind of rage; and you want to take things, you want to keep them for yourself, you have all the feelings of jealousy, envy, narrowness, you see, just the very opposite of the other feeling.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Becoming Aware of the Shadow, pp. 139-143

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.