"Couper les cheveux en quatre"
I just received an email from a nice godbrother from France who read my India Journal here. He especially liked the descriptions about being generous with the ricksaw wallas, and he elaborated on that point with some examples from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada. How, for example, in Haridwara, there was a long line of beggars sitting in front of their bowls and Prabhupada had his disciples go and put a few paisas in each one of them.
This godbrother explained the reason he didn't leave his comment directly on my blog was because of the tendency for others--especially on the internet-- to immediately tear apart another's opinions. He cited a French expression: Couper les cheveux en quatre-- splitting hairs in four parts lengthwise-- to describe this phenomenon. It seems that today's devotees, instead of focusing on unity in diversity, which is the basis of spiritual life and of Lord Caitanya's acintya bedabeda tattva, focus on debating and trying to defeat, ad nauseam, those who do not think, look, speak or act like they do.
This hairsplitting is one of the pastimes of the material world. It represents the backside of God-- along with other forms of false lordship/ false friendship/ worship-me ship. That does not mean i am against being critical when there is due reason. Anyone who reads this blog knows that i don't hold any punches if i see injustice or incompetence on the part of so-called leaders. Tyranny and oppression need to be weeded out, whether they are found in governments or in religious societies.
But being critical for its own sake, to exhibit one's superiority, while avoiding a tolerant mood of reconciliation that could bring jivas together in one house-- in this case the biggest tent in the universe, devotees who want to liberate the world-- is madness.
Hairsplitting is a holier-than-thou pastime. It splits us away from Kesava, the controller of Brahma and Siva, the possessor of the most beautiful, fine Hair. And it turns us into caricatures of sadhus, not worthy of the name.