He has to endure the pardonable sneers of the sceptical, the unpardonable hatred of those obsessed by the same dark powers which obsessed so many Nazis, the regrettable criticisms of the suspicious, and the unjust vilification of the envious. The attempt to introduce his ideas meets with hostility and opposition not only from the quarters of religious bigotry but also from those of scientific materialism. The hostile elements all select him as a target as soon as he takes up the unthankful task of lifting any of the delicate veils of Isis in an age when, in certain countries, the brute and the boor actually sit enthroned among them. He will have to suffer both from hard materialists and from fanatical mystics, who are either incompetent to understand the integrity of his motivation or instrumental for that adverse element in Nature which is the secret source of hostility towards such pioneer pathfinders. Ambitious preachers and teachers prompted plainly by envy and charlatanic cult-leaders attack the thinker himself even though they accept or use many of his ideas.
When anyone is incapable of fair and proper criticism of a man's ideas but capable only of vitriolic abuse of the man himself, there is usually some soundness in those ideas. Doctrinal opposition, which may always be proper and honourable, is one thing; but personal enmity, which is always improper and dishonourable, is another. It will be his special lot in life to attract critics who eagerly combine both.
But whether or not vilification gives way one day to vindication is a matter of indifference, for he will have lived in the present body long enough to have learned to look elsewhere for his own happiness. That a sincere effort to put forward ideas which are helpful in life's truth-quest should arouse so much personal antagonism is as amazing to those who do not comprehend the psychological factors involved as, with the ever-present vision before his eyes of the ever-approaching terminus of this little game called earthly life, it is amusing to him.
It is the spiteful business of those who have sought the soul but failed through their own weaknesses to find it, to speak evil, to spread slander, and to invent falsehoods about the man who does succeed in this enterprise. It is the noble business of this man to remain unmoved by their attacks, to refrain in silence from answering them, and to forgive their misdeeds in patience. These human spiritual failures strew the path's hinterland like wreckage. They persist blindly and obstinately in their acceptance of evil suggestion and are not to be confounded with those finer aspirants who fall, repent, and raise themselves again. A single reply to all their worthless criticism would be best taken from an Arab poet:These are our works which prove what we have done,
Look therefore at our works when we have gone.
He has created something which has helped mankind. His critics have not. They have simply tried to tear it down. Having done nothing of worth themselves, they seek with their foul criticisms to destroy the work he has done; having given free reign to the dark, destructive, and negative qualities of their own characters, they assail his amid the safety of their private rooms. The help which, in sheer kindness of heart, he gives out is forgotten; the hatred which, in sheer envy, they carefully cultivate is remembered. He is paradoxically punished for the good that he has done to persons of evil character and mean mind. "It was when I began to love God that I got disfavour of men," sadly wrote the dying Hans Denck, the sixteenth-century German who was hunted from city to city because of his mystical preachings--which were eminently sane and truly Christian, but which menaced the vested interests of institutionalized religion. "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile," lamented the noble-charactered teacher Hildebrand. Each word, each hostile act, will become for them in later years a flail to beat their own shoulders. Such is the law. The harm done against anyone always reacts upon the wrong-doers eventually, but the harm done against a man who lives with head bent before the higher powers reacts more vigorously against the wrong-doer, for then they trouble not the man but the power which seeks to use him. These things happen with unfailing and clocklike regularity. But the backbiting, the thoughtless gossip, the envy and malice which prompts people to say untrue things about such a man cannot alter what he is. While they are busy concocting fresh treacheries, he will turn indifferently away from them and their world to find the divine peace which awaits everyone who has begun to commune with the higher powers. He is content to leave them to enjoy the fruits of the karma which they make. He is utterly helpless and cannot even raise his little finger in self-defense. He knows that even his enemy is not different in essence from his own inner being. Hence he has and can have nothing but goodwill towards each enemy; but the Law itself is not so kindly and will demand a hundredfold higher payment for every falsehood and every malicious word uttered against him. He has conscious knowledge of the forces that are working for him, of what they have done in the past, and of what they will do at the ripened hour.
He may not desert the broad work of human enlightenment which devolves upon him. That work has to be done and neither the malice of satanic human instruments nor the misunderstanding of the superficial and ignorant should deter him from carrying it out. He takes the advice of a wise old Tamil book of proverbs, the Kural, which says: "Patience is the first of virtues. It enables us to bear with those that revile us, even as the earth bears with those that dig it." So he sheds his shyness, continues his work, and offers malevolent enmity the silent indifference of one who knows in what sublime cause he is striving. He makes it a rule not to answer calumny, partly because he knows its true source lies in the promptings of evil entities who will continue their unseen activities whatever he says, and partly because God is his judge and he accepts no other. If enemies spit verbal venom openly at him or secretly behind him or in public print, he does not let it excite him or create bitterness against them. He remains serene and extends his goodwill to them, then comprehends that they cannot act otherwise, being what they are, and finally drops them out of his mind altogether. It is their business to plunge the daggers of malice and the stilettos of vilification into his side. It is his business immediately to assuage the pain by holding to the serenity of the Overself and to stop the bleeding by using philosophic insight.
-- Notebooks Category 12: Reflections > Chapter 5: The Literary Work > # 112