Becoming Aware of Judgment
Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness. ~Shakti Gawain
I write this because I have to.
When one feels called to do something, even envisioning it in a dream, to ignore it is to slap the divine in the face, turn ignorantly away and say, "Thanks, but I got this."
If I am to advocate others speaking the truth, following through on their dreams and inner guidance (no matter how painful), then I in good conscience cannot do the opposite.
I am being called again and again to address judgment. This conversation is going to get deep, kiddos, so hang onto your seats. The only thing I can do is to be honest.
Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another. ~Homer
I will preface this by requesting compassion. You will have your opinions - some of which may differ from mine or others leaving comments. I do not mind hearing dissenting views, but only if done in a loving way. I do not have room in my life right now for hate.
You will find in this post what you need to hear. I encourage you to listen to that, to sit with the fires that arise, and let the rest burn away.
Finally, keep in mind that you are reading the blog, the thoughts, of one person. If you disagree, all you have to do is turn away from the computer and go on with your life.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. ~Albert Einstein
What we call reality is an agreement that people have arrived at to make life more livable. ~Louise Nevelson
After you've heard two eyewitness accounts of an auto accident, you begin to worry about history. ~Author Unknown
What you think is real may not be.
The views you hold about life and the stories you create to help you navigate your days change along with your experience. Think, perhaps, of a view you had that is drastically different from one you had while being raised (i.e. a childhood view). With experience and reflection, you began to see things differently.
I would be willing to bet that you've had quite a few occasions during adulthood where your views/perspectives on something or someone have changed as well.
Even science - the most "real", fact-based discipline out there - changes its views on reality frequently. Hypotheses are tested and "facts" are found out to be not-so-true. (Is the world flat? Are eggs healthy? Is Pluto a planet?)
Take-away point: What you think is real may not be.
Judgment Versus Distinction
Now. If we can accept that reality may not be "real", where are we left? Floating in a cloud of confusion most likely.
We return to practical life by making distinctions and assumptions.
We assume that gravity is real, that it will exist in the next moment, and take a step trusting in that assumption.
We see another person, distinguish them from the tree they are passing, and say our greetings to the person, not the tree.
Distinctions and assumptions are necessary to function in the world. The trouble comes when we believe that these distinctions and assumptions are in fact reality and make judgments based upon them.
A judgment is believing or thinking something is right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate or sinful (whether or not you act on it).
The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world. ~Georgia Harkness
Judge not that ye be not judged. ~Matthew 7:1
Judgments are harmful obstacles in trying to understand the world, ourselves, and ultimately, our unity.
If something becomes wrong or bad, we avoid it. By avoiding it, we remove ourselves from understanding it fully. By not understanding it, we fail to understand part of ourselves.
If something becomes good or right, we gravitate towards it. We (often) cling to it, creating an attachment. Attachments (in the deepest spiritual sense) are just as harmful as avoidance because they create within us the desire for permanence. If you like something, you want it to last, to be there forever. Nothing, however, is permanent - so the illusion of attachment is eventually shattered. This leads to suffering.
You judge. I judge. We all judge. We all make our distinctions between self and other and assign judgments to those things.
My practice is acknowledging the distinctions while releasing the judgments.
Hopping Off the Fence
I’m one of those people that can see things from many perspectives. I love debating because I can usually debate from either side (regardless of whether or not I agree with the side I am advocating). I usually consider this a strength – an empathetic awareness of the world.
Yet at the recent yoga workshop with one of my teachers, Sadie Nardini, she introduced the concept of “spiritual stubbornness”. I felt as though she was talking directly to me when she spoke of people who can see things from different views but because of this, rarely determine and thus share their own.
I felt like I was sitting on the fence enjoying the beautiful views but never feeling the grass.
All the mistakes I make arise from forsaking my own station and trying to see the object from another person's point of view. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
While I continue to both advocate and practice empathetic awareness, I feel as if this calling that has stirred me recently is leading me towards a sense of spiritual stubbornness.
I must trust in my own truths. In so doing, I’m not going to say yours are wrong…nor even that mine are right. But my truths are mine, and thus, just as valid as anyone else’s. In recognizing this, I open my arms to vulnerability and say with a peaceful smile, bring it.
My tensions have been rising more and more though as I weave my way through the online social world – business and personal and everything in between – as well as relationships with my own family and friends.
I am intrigued by all of the judgments…particularly those disguised as non-judgments – the “Well, I’m right but you are entitled to your opinion” or “that’s just the way it is” (implying a set reality – that the speaker’s reality is the only one).
I am disturbed by the lack of awareness of all of the judging.
I am almost down-right pissed at the blatant judging – the “who needs so-and-so – screw ‘em” or name-calling that seems rampant as things like political tensions rise.
Please note – yes, I am speaking to you.
Not “you” personally, but the you who is awakened and set on fire by the above statements. The you who doesn’t want to hear this. I am also speaking to the person who will read this after you. I am also speaking to myself. I am not letting any of us off of the hook. (Spiritual stubbornness, activated.)
Judgment supports division. In case you didn’t notice from the title of my site, my practice is unity. Unity does not mean we all cave into one another and become replicas, but that we celebrate our distinctions as one.
This means that when you decide to unfriend someone on Facebook or when you disagree with what someone said on their blog, you do just that - unfriend them or disagree. You don't harbor ill will towards them nor make it a point to explain to the person how they are wrong.
(Note: There is a difference between explaining how someone is wrong versus sharing your own opinion. I won't get into that here as I would get completely side-tracked. But please note I am not advocating not sharing your opinions.)
But all of this outer stuff doesn't make a bit of difference if you don't do the difficult work. (In fact, the outer facade will fall apart if you don't take care of the inner - like trying to build the masculine structure without allowing room for the feminine space. It is inevitable that structure without space will crumble when exposed to the changing nature of life. Again, I'm getting side-tracked.)
So what is the most difficult part? The inner work. The part where you can't fool yourself. The part where you acknowledge you are judgmental and address those judgments head-on. The part that knows you just unfriended that person because you hate them with a passion or you think they are stupid or ignorant or below you and you just can't waste your time with them anymore. The part that acknowledges that you adore that one person who you stalk and would do anything to have a life like theirs, do art like theirs... (judgment can be both negative and positive).
The inner work is not portraying yourself (through the letters you type, the things you say, the actions you take) as someone who is not judgmental. You don’t need to share that you think someone else is ignorant (which leads to harm) but you also do not need to pretend you are above this sort of judgment. With the awareness comes the capability to take personal responsibility and change your self.
The inner work is acknowledging that you are judgmental and then working to lessen or remove those judgments.
Again, judgments are divisive. We can hold different opinions, be unique individuals, experience the world in a variety of ways, label everything we want to....but when we start judging those separate parts as better or worse, we remove them from the sphere of what is and into the realm of what is craved or avoided.
We separate ourselves and perpetuate our individual and collective suffering.
As I said, some of you do not want to hear this. You are already full of, “yeah, but…”s. And that is fine!! Stop reading. Walk away. Go on with your life as if you never read this.
For those still reading, I’d guess you have that pull towards that unity. That sense that maybe we are all connected, that maybe – just maybe – those judgments are harming to you and others.
It is important that you recognize your stories – of judgment, of who you are and how you came to be this way – but that you do not get caught up in these stories. If you start to judge yourself it is no less harmful than judging another.
But don’t think this lets you off the hook.
Remember that what you think is real may not be? Those stories about how you are a victim, how life is treating you unfairly, how you are not creative or don’t have everything you want right now….those stories may not be real.
Too, those stories about how you are successful, how you have grown into the answers, how you know what people want and thus can charge oodles of money (in a way, making them believe that they want it...but I digress)…those stories may not be real, either.
We have a personal responsibility to honestly acknowledge our own stories, those beliefs, memories, and dreams that constitute who we think of as “I” and to hold them in our awareness without judgment.
We have a deep sense of collective responsibility to address those stories on individual levels and determine which resonate with us and which do not.
We must keep realizing that while these stories are necessary to function – like the form of the tea cup – they are just stories. They are tales being told through the lenses of our own beliefs and experiences. While the unique individual disappears if the stories do, the essence of who we are (the space) remains.
When you judge the stories (the beliefs and the resulting actions someone takes based off those beliefs), you judge a part of yourself. Remember – the stories are just another perspective on this experience of living.
If we are divine beings having human experiences, the stories are our way of sharing our experience with ourselves (our thoughts) and others (our actions). To judge the stories of one is to say your experience is not valid. To do this is to judge part of the divine; to question and call “right” or “wrong” something that ultimately just is.
Take a deep breath.
Acknowledge where you are right now. Smile because you are having this experience – that you are fortunate enough to be sitting in front of this screen with the capability to read and understand this.
Now go back to Facebook or Twitter, or turn off the computer and look at your co-workers, family members, or strangers in the eyes. Read the status updates and listen to the gossip being shared. Remember that every letter, every word uttered, is coming from the story of another.
Their story is no more nor no less valid than yours. Your story is no better than theirs. They are no more wrong than you are right.
What you judge of them you must acknowledge exists within yourself.
Like I said, I’m not letting any of us off the hook here. This may piss you off, but you are as judgmental as I am.
Yes, I'm Hypocritical.
I often ponder the conundrum, how do you hate "hate” and, when I cannot find an answer, do not act nor share my opinions because of the blatant hypocrisy.
Am I judging those who judge? I’d like to think not – that I am just making a distinction between those who judge and those who do not. But in honesty, I’ll admit that I may be hiding from myself.
But this fear that I could be wrong, that I might put this out there and then change my mind, that I'm being hypocritical will no longer keep me from sharing what calls to me to be shared.
Take another deep breath.
What you think is real may not be. You can go forth with your day, acknowledge distinctions, search for unifying characteristics, and practice not judging either “us” nor “them”.
You can do so with a deep sense of personal responsibility that every thought, every action is making a difference. You can do this with a light-hearted acknowledgment that we are all just exploring, finding and creating our own stories, playing into an agreed upon reality.
What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I’m afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
Tripping Over Joy, ~Hafiz
How you act in the world determines how the world acts to you. If you want peace, unity, you must release your own divisive beliefs and judgments of yourself, act as if you know we are all deliciously different and simultaneously One, and allow the world to re-member itself.
Take another deep breath.
There is nothing more appropriate that I can leave you with than