“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy
We live in a world of judgment. We qualify everything in varying degrees of right and wrong, good and bad, pretty and ugly.
We are taught from earliest childhood to judge everything and everyone. We label our days consistently, using adjectives like “beautiful” or “horrible.” Even the weather is not immune!
The presence of judgment is pervasive in our lives, yet subtle enough in some cases to pass unnoticed.
I have worked for years at ridding my life of all judgment, but it’s far easier said than done! Just when I begin to think I’ve eradicated all traces of the poison, it pops up again, wearing a new disguise.
One of the most valuable lessons of my life was witnessing the presence of judgment when I least expected it…
Many of us on a so-called “spiritual path” find ourselves sorely challenged when we observe the suffering of those around us. This was especially true for me when my mother was dying.
In the last days of my mother’s life, she was in severe, physical pain. It’s hard for me to put into words the extent of my discomfort as I watched her, and the effect it had on my personal belief system.
For years, I had lived with the belief that “all is well,” that regardless of any appearance of disharmony, there is a destiny, a plan, order in this great universe of ours. As my mother lay dying, I could not reconcile the image of her suffering with that belief system.
I found myself regressing to the questions I’d lived with throughout adolescence. Why is there suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is my mother being punished this way? This isn’t fair!
For many years now, I’ve been blessed with the good fortune of having an individual in my life whom I can count on for perspectives of peace in moments when I’m floundering. I called him up as I was thrashing around in this confused mindset.
No sooner had I finished telling him how unjust it was that my mother was suffering in this way, than he knocked the wind out of me by saying, “Tiela, stop judging your mother’s process.” The words floored me.
Judging? Was I really judging what my mother was going through? Yes!
Not only was I judging it, I was condemning it, and in some sense condemning her life—in fact, all of life along with it! I was not even respecting that there might be wisdom or a divine plan operating in my mother’s experience that I was unable to see.
I had decided that even though I wasn’t in my mother’s shoes, I knew better than she did, better than her higher self, better than the universe! I knew that what she was going through was “bad” and “wrong.”
Furthermore, by deciding that my mother was experiencing something against her will, I was seeing her as a helpless victim instead of an evolving being on a path of consciousness. At the very least I was doing my mother a disservice. Potentially, I was even adding to her pain.
The minute I became aware of what I was doing, I was able to stop by realizing that my attitude was actually doing harm to this person that I loved.
It’s never pleasant to witness what we call “suffering.” But it’s a form of arrogance to assume we really know what’s going on and whether or not it’s necessary for someone else’s life. Truthfully, it isn’t any of our business.
Our job is to walk our separate paths with presence and awareness, to be available for people when they ask for our assistance and, when they don’t, to allow them to have their process.
I am certainly not suggesting we live our lives without compassion, but there is a world of difference between compassion and pity. The former is an expression of love that emanates from respecting a person’s essence. The latter is a cloying, negative emotion, toxic in nature and void of all respect.
Pity is one of the many, clever disguises judgment wears. In fact, it is impossible to “pity” someone without seeing them in a position that is inferior to our own. Such an attitude is judgment, pure and simple.
The only way we can truly assist anyone in a challenging process is by releasing all judgment and seeing her or him for the empowered being that they truly are.
Photo by Trang Nguyen Xu