The Most Human Thing: Passing Judgment

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 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 (, 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!

Communcating in Oneness

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!

15 thoughts on “The Most Human Thing: Passing Judgment

  1. Amen to all this, Sweetie. I am among the worst offenders, I think, though that, too, can be ego talking. An image I’ve used in meditation is that of my self and my joys and troubles being a wavecrest on top of the ocean that is all of us and everything else, too. Who knows how long I’ll have to use the image before it works on me beyond the walls of my meditation sessions? Thank you for this.


  2. i do believe i’ll adopt your mantra as sound advice. very much along the line of Maritn Bubers ‘presence’ to the other. and, i have found that the ability of laugh at myself is the greatest psychological survival skill i possess. very nice thoughts.


  3. A great post, Rita. So many struggle with judgment; just look around at the division in our politics, among other such things on our planet. My journey with judgment has been one of first awakening to how much I was actually doing it. Conscious awakening to a habit influenced by so many around me for a very long time became a challenge in and of itself. Many have written or spoken about judgment as a projection onto others of our own fears, masked as unhealed wounds, unmet needs and so on. This opened me to the graveyard within that I had tended quite well for a long time. I even wrote about it last year on my blog. In becoming aware, my early strategy was to notice the judgment coming up and stopping it in that moment; not speaking it or allowing my mind to even go too far with it. Therein was the beginning of asking what needed to be seen or felt in order to be healed.

    I am human and certainly not “cured” of judgment. I have changed my language. I pause and I listen to my heart. This, for me is Namaste consciousness; seeing the divine in the other as I see it in myself. All negative judgment can melt away in those moments.

    Wishing you well on this journey into deeper discernment. WE a work in progress….always. 😉


    • Carrie, I so appreciate this response. The wisdom of your words born from experience helps us all. Be still and watch myself in the act of judging. Such a good first step away from it. Much peace to you.

      Sent from my Kindle Fire



  4. Rita, you certainly touched upon our humanness with this piece. Judgement is so hard to curtail. When I find myself judging, if I’m aware, I repeat this mantra. I replace judgment with compassion. Thanks for the reflection.


  5. Oh my Sister Rita,
    This has been my quest most of my life, NOT to JUDGE…when I worked in ministry on the streets of Spokane, it was easier. but now, it is really hard… soul hungers to be pure in this regard, and it is NOT. I judge my political opponents…..the most…..HOW can they think this way????? they judge me right back……Oh my. My soul feels blackened at times when I make judgement. I look forward to seeing you soon for lunch.


  6. I love the honesty of your blog. That reminds me of what has been the most helpful for me in dealing with judging. I, too, am in my 7th decade and have been at this wrestling match with judging a long time. The most helpful thing for me has been my daring to be honest with myself about myself, observing and admitting to my shadow and defense mechanisms in action. I have one person that I can share these illuminations with and he does the same with me and it is incredibly helpful, humorous and humbling. We have found the freedom to laugh at ourselves with each other very healing. Peace. Rita!


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