We can probably agree that the hypocrite is one of the most despised individuals on the planet. He may not be as hated as the child molester, the charity fraudster or the war criminal but he's certainly down there.
I am one of the biggest hypocrites I know, and I'm going to show you why it's not always a bad thing.
#1 What type of individual is a hypocrite and why does s/he get so much stick?
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.
In moral philosophy, some theorists blame hypocrisy for everything that goes wrong, for every bad individual and every wrong doing. These theorists would claim that the reason bad actions happen in the first place is because of a contradiction, i.e. between the stated values or beliefs of an individual and what they actually do. Some hypocrites do not even believe in their stated values or beliefs but they lie about their own morals to obtain public favour. Other hypocrites, while they may give some superficial credence to their values, they will go back on them in a heartbeat if they have something to gain.
But there is a third kind of hypocrite who, while he may not be perfect, he is not entirely without redeeming qualities.
#2 How could hypocrisy ever possibly be good?
Not everything in this life is black and white. Good people do bad things. Sometimes, bad people even do good things. Although many people, might be more good than bad or vice versa, an extremely small minority of people are just one or the other.
So who the hell is somebody that has done something equally as bad as me, to criticise, condemn or judge ME? Maybe they should look in the mirror first.
Maybe they should look in the mirror and maybe they should accept some form of restitution for their misdeeds. But what kind of a society would we live in where some people were banned from criticising the current actions of another person because of something that happened a long time ago? How would that person ever learn from their mistakes if they were not allowed the privilege of being a hypocrite and they were not allowed to identify the flaws in others, while acknowledging that at some time in that person's life they were exactly the same? How can the hypocrite ever stop being a hypocrite and actually live up to the values they want to stay true to if they can never address the issues other people face, knowing that they have been down that same road many times and they know from EXPERIENCE how to avoid it?
# 3 Sometimes, the Biggest Liar and the Biggest Hypocrite is the Man that Claims he is No Hypocrite
Aren't we all imperfect? Haven't we all failed to "judge not lest ye be judged" at some time in our life?
Surely then, the biggest liar and the biggest hypocrite is the man that is hypocritical about hypocrisy: the man that says no man other than himself may be a hypocrite and pass judgement upon those that have done the same exact thing as that man?
#4 The victims of this world need your hypocritical judgement
If you have done something wrong in the past, it is ok for another person to do wrong as well? If you have done wrong to another individual, should you not offer your protection to someone else that faces the same injustice from some other wrong-doer? The answer is absolutely "no" to both accounts. The only way you can redeem yourself is to be a hypocrite. If you do not do something to prevent the wrongs that you yourself have committed in this lifetime, you may never be free from the vicious cycle of karmic justice. You may even commit the same wrongs a second or third time because you have not learned how to identify and correct those wrong deeds. Sometimes hypocrisy is about looking at other people and identifying the wrongs they have committed and therefore seeing those same wrongs inside our own selves. Sometimes, we are strongly biased in favour of people that commit the same misdeeds that we ourselves have committed because we do not want to acknowledge that very same wrong-doing in our own self.
If we as a society never permit wrong-doers to acknowledge that an action is wrong - both in themselves and others - then we never permit people to grow from and redeem their own mistakes. By persecuting hypocrisy, we destroy an evolution in the individual's moral consciousness sometimes.
# 5 We should not persecute the hypocrites, we should only persecute those unwilling to learn from and redeem their mistakes
Angulimala was born to a Brahmin chaplain and was prophesised to become a robber. His father, Kosala named him Ahimsaka, "the harmless one" as an attempt to deter this fat and sent Ahimsaka study under a well-known Brahmin guru. He excelled in his studies and became the teacher's favourite student, however, the other students grew jealous of Ahimsaka's speedy progress and sought to turn his master against him. They made it seem as though Ahimsaka had seduced the master's wife and boasted that he was wiser than the guru.
For this reason, the teacher said that Ahimsaka's training was complete, but that he must provide the traditional final gift offered to a guru before the teacher would grant his approval. As his payment, the teacher demanded 1,000 fingers, each taken from a different victim, thinking that Angulimala would be killed in the course of doing this.
Ahimsaka became a highwayman, killing travellers who passed through the forest and kept their fingers. When the people of the kingdom began to avoid the roads, he entered the villages and dragged people from their homes. He started to wear the fingers around his neck as a garland and thus he came to be known as Angulimala ("garland (or necklace) of fingers").
Pasenadi, the king of Kosala, vowed to hunt down Angulimala, so fearing for her son's life, Angulimala's mother set out to find him and warn him of the king's intent. The Buddha foresaw that Angulimala had slain 999 victims, and was desperately seeking a thousandth. If the Buddha encountered Angulimala that day, he would become a monk and subsequently attain Nirvana. If Angulimala encountered his mother instead, he would slay her as his thousandth victim and set off to intercept Angulimala.
Angulimala first saw his mother and after some deliberation, decided to make her his 1000th victim. But then when Buddha also arrived, he chose to kill him instead. He drew his sword, and started running towards the Buddha, however the Buddha stopped Angulimala with the divine power of his enlightenment, which prevented Agulimala being able to reach the buddha. This bewildered Angulimala so much that he called to the Buddha to stop, to which the Buddha replied that it was Angulimala who should stop.
Later, King Pasenadi set out to find and kill Angulimala. He stopped first to pay a visit to the Buddha and explained to the Buddha his purpose. The Buddha asked how the king would respond if he were to discover that Angulimala had given up the life of a highwayman and become a monk. The king said that he would salute him and offer to provide for him. The Buddha then revealed that Angulimala sat only a few feet away, his hair and beard shaven off, a member of the Buddhist order. The king, astounded, offered to donate robe materials to Angulimala, and then returned to his palace.
Later, Angulimala came across a young woman undergoing a difficult labor. He went to the Buddha and asked him what he could do to ease her pain. The Buddha told Angulimala to go to the woman and say:
'Sister, since I was born I do not recall intentionally killing a living being. Through this truth may there be wellbeing for you, wellbeing for your fetus.'
Angulimala pointed out that it would be untrue for him to say this. The Buddha offered this revised stanza:
'Sister, since I was born with the noble birth (became a monk), I do not recall intentionally killing a living being. Through this truth may there be wellbeing for you, wellbeing for your fetus.'
This play on words enabled Angulimala to do a good deed: effectively, it enabled Angulimala to be a hypocrite by condemning and preventing any wrong deed that may ever be done to this young woman's unborn fetus.
After Angulimala delivered this benediction, the woman safely gave birth to her child. This verse, commonly called the Angulimala paritta, continues to be recited at the blessings of houses or pregnant women in Theravada countries.
This helped Angulimala focus his mind on his basic meditation subject. Before, there would always appear in his mind's eye, the place in the jungle where he had slain so many people. After performing the Act of Truth, he was seen to bring safety to people and people started to approach him and provide him with almsfood.
Although most of the people had gained full confidence in his inner transformation, a resentful few could not forget that he was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Unable to win revenge through the law, they took matters into their own hands and attacked him with sticks and stones, as he walked for alms.
Severely injured, Angulimala managed to return to the monastery and the Buddha indicated that Angulimala was experiencing the fruits of the karma that would otherwise have condemned him to hell: Angulimala experienced physical suffering during the course of his last life, rather than experiencing torment in another birth for a much longer period of time. Angulimala remained firm and invulnerable in mind and heart but his body was still exposed to the effects of his former evil deeds. When he entered Sāvatthi for alms, he was attacked by the mob, but on the admonition of the Buddha, endured their wrath as penance for his former misdeeds.
# Conclusion: the true evil is not hypocrisy but the wrong-doing itself, and the reluctance to grow from the mistake of wrong-doing
Theon Greyjoy: the game of thrones character whom, much like Angulimala, has been granted penance for his misdeeds to fulfil a greater cause.
Once a wrong-doing has been done, it has been done. You may not be a Theon Greyjoy, and you may not be an Angulimala, but most of us can probably concede that we have done wrong in our life and most of us can probably concede that at some point, we have all held a double-standard. Be strong, accept your wrong doings and embrace growth: embrace the power of hypocrisy. Not all hypocrisy comes from a place of growth or genuine desire to be redeemed, but not all hypocrites are bad either. And if a hypocrite has advice to offer for you, remember sometimes the man that has been down that path and has made that mistake before is actually the best man to advise you how to avoid such a path in the future, as any parent will tell you.