Judgment begins with naming things. First we name and then we assign values. The world then becomes how things are, have been and should be, according to mind. Eckhart Tolle talks of taking a walk in nature, looking at the trees and flowers and practicing not naming them – just seeing them, experiencing them.
The morning sky blushes as daylight creeps over the horizon, the stillness of a new day pervades the air – fresh and untouched – wind chimes tinkle in the distance. My dog sleeps at my feet and the rest of the world slumbers still. The coffee in my mug is hot and welcoming. Is this heaven? Heavenly? Perfection? My mind thinks so. It is relaxed and at one with the world it sees and hears and feels.
But … I have just named a world of my experience. Can I look at it without naming it? Again I sit and look – and listen – and feel. There is a sense behind everything that I can’t put into words. The minute I do, I have named it, and am, at least partially, in my mind again. Perhaps this is what is meant by being IN the world but not OF it. Being IN the world is the naming of what is seen, heard, felt and also tasted and smelled – the senses. Not being OF the world is the energy perception itself, the field of Presence that experiences the seeing, listening and hearing etc. It is a sense, but of a different kind, because the minute you put a label on it, it disappears and the named object comes into view.
Mind Needs to Create Meaning and Interpretation
When a something is named, we form ideas and concepts about it. Mind assigns meaning. Presence simply experiences what is.
The essence of a flower becomes the love of gardening I have experienced throughout my life, or the flowers I received on a special occasion from a loved one, or the special times I spent outside working in the garden alongside my Dad as a child.
Making a mistake in a project, if it involves others, becomes being in front of the class at 8 years old, in trouble because I scratched out my math sums too many times and was made to feel stupid and ashamed.
As a child I didn’t know how to say to that shame and guilt and fear that arose, that maybe it just meant I made a mistake and that it is OK to make a mistake. I can learn from it and be more careful in the future. Instead I came to the erroneous conclusion that there’s something wrong with me. Hence as an adult, making a mistake results in all those judgments of something being wrong with me all over again – waiting for the inevitable criticism and shame.
Naming is a Form of Communication
We name things to communicate. This is a dog. This is a flower. All good. Simple facts. The trouble begins when we assign subjective values (judgments) to these facts. We decide, based on past experiences, that dogs are scary because we got bitten when we were a child, or we should avoid making mistakes at all costs, and we become unrealistic perfectionists and/or procrastinators.
Separating fact from the fiction of judgment lifts you up from the trough where the pigs are feeding, to the skies where the birds are flying overhead, free. Maybe you don’t have the whole picture and this is a part of something bigger for you to learn and grow through. Maybe there’s another way to look at this.
Classic Forms of Judgment
‘Shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’, rights and wrongs, good and bad, feeling not enough, feeling superior, are all classic judgment modes.
I made a new years’ resolution to go to the gym 4 times a week. Fact.
It is now a month later and I have only been twice. Fact.
I am weak, pathetic, unreliable, hopeless – all judgments.
It is raining. Fact.
The weather is horrible – judgment.
That politician just said x,y,z. Fact.
That is so wrong, how could he say that? – judgment.
He should be doing a,b,c. He’s a stupid, ignorant, arrogant person – judgments.
I do not have the money in my bank to pay my electric bill this month. Fact.
I am so useless/hopeless. I should be able to manage my money better – judgments.
I have a Lamborghini car. Fact.
This means I am better other people – judgment.
I am so stupid, I shouldn’t have said that – judgment
What Does Nonjudgment Say to All Those Judgments?
Nonjudgment is a voice of compassion. It understands one important thing – that at some level we are all doing the best we know how. We have amazing opportunities (challenges) for learning and growing on this journey through life. Just as we wouldn’t chastise our toddler as he takes one faltering step after another, neither do we need to condemn ourselves when we make mistakes, or find ourselves in situations outside our control that we are resisting. (The weather for example, or the way someone else is acting).
Self-Compassion and Kindness
Susan Pierce Thompson of Bright Line Eating said on a call I recently listened to, that self-compassion, or the lack of it, is now thought to be one of the biggest causes of depression and other such illnesses. It makes sense when you think about it. It is very difficult to live with a voice that constantly condemns and criticizes, especially if those criticisms are aimed at you.
The world can be a very harsh environment, especially for sensitive souls – hence the dire need to learn how to live IN the world but know that we aren’t OF the world. Compassion, particularly self-compassion and kindness are essential qualities to develop. When we can be compassionate and kind to ourselves, we can then truly be of service to others.
This isn’t to say you give in to every childish tantrum your ego might have, rather you practice becoming more and more aware of what is going on inside you and being the most gentle, loving, kind angelic self you can be, to you. You nurture and care for yourself in ways you might not have previously considered.
And remember ‘maybe’. Maybe I should be a better money manager, maybe not. Maybe that politician should say/do things differently, maybe not.
We have a very small perspective of an infinite universe. Often, what looks bad or wrong looks quite different as time goes by and we rise above that perspective and see a new ‘truth’.
Struggles Can Be Openings to Awakening
I recall many years ago listening to Byron Katie work her brilliance with a man whose 20-year-old daughter was a heroin addict. Obviously he was very afraid for her life, but the way he was going about trying to get her to quit wasn’t working. It was a long session which I can’t cover in detail here, but the takeaway for me was when Byron Katie said to the father, What if this was her only way home to God? Would you deny her the experience she is choosing right now?
It really hit home to me that at some much deeper level, those struggles we have in life can so often be doorways to awakening to who we really are and that the very best we can do to help ourselves and others through our struggles is to first have deep compassion and to remove entirely, all judgment.
What Judgments Can You Surrender?
When we can surrender mind’s need to know, need to be in control, need to put life into little boxes, we open up to a world of infinite possibility, inspiration and healing; a world of acceptance of what is and faith in the process of awakening to the reality of who we really are.
What are predominant judgments you make about your life, either yourself or the world ‘out there’? Think of ways you use shoulds and shouldn’ts, right and wrong, good and bad, even if only to yourself. To each thought, follow it with maybe. Notice how that feels inside, to take a step back and consider there might be other ways of looking at the situation.