Observing my behavior lately, I recognize the need to write about the quintessential human activity of passing judgment on others. 2014 is the year of my seventh decade, and you would think that by now a person would have eschewed judgment. Wrong. My humanity stumbles along with the rest of the world.
I’ve been in search of understanding and spiritual practices to help me with this limitation, and will share a few findings with you. I am grateful if you would add your own ideas in the comment section so that together we can grapple with this primordial peccability. Go ahead. Laugh. The alternative is to cry, and I for one, prefer to laugh at myself.
Spirituality and spiritual practice have been deeply enriched in the last two decades by pairing with physics and theology. In her article, “The Divine Dynamism: Being and Becoming,” ( in A Matter of Spirit, Winter 2014, available at http://www.ipjc.org/journal/index.htm) Gail Worcelo, SGM, says, “As we begin to meet each other beyond the boundaries of the separate sense of self, a new, enlightened space opens up between us, bringing with it the capacity for deeper relationality and depth.” I see the open space as Oneness, a space devoid of duality. When I judge the other based on her/his personality traits alone, I reduce myself and the other to cartoon characters communicating with the bubbles above their heads. Two egos talking at one another.
In her blog, Tiny Buddha (http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-judging-people-makes-us-unhappy/), Toni Bernhard posted an article entitled, “Why Judging People Makes Us Unhappy.” It is the best and most practical description of judging that I have encountered so far. She makes the distinction between discernment and judging: Discernment is simply perceiving the way things are. In making judgments about others there is an element of unrest in us about the way things are, and a desire to re- create the canvas of the other. The annoying behavior we want to change is just a manifestation of the ego’s avoidance of the true self. Judging the behavior sets up a duality which makes authentic communion impossible. When I choose instead to discern behavior for what it is, and shift my focus away from it, the opportunity to meet the other in the place of Oneness unfolds. I also avoid the inevitable suffering which judging brings. The annoyance and unrest create such a furor in me that I lose whatever inner peace I had. Is it really worth that loss? Just guessing, here, that this may sound familiar to you as well!
Here’s a mantra I am using to help me through the judging:
Breathing in I welcome the other.
Breathing out I release judgment.
Breathing in I am at one with the other
Breathing out I release duality.
Good luck with this. I’ll meet you in the rough places of our shared humanity!