Judge Not

I’m not going to blog about Bob Marley again, but the concept of “judging” has been on my mind, and of course his prophetic lyrics come to mind: “Judge not before you judge yourself.”

In the works of various Spiritual Masters (Echkart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Thomas Moore, Mooji, etc.) judgement is an important concept. Gabby Bernstein just wrote a book on the subject. The collective lessons around judgement are the same: to judge is to withhold love from oneself.

The challenge with judgement is catch ourselves in the act of it. We are so accustomed to having opinions that it’s hard to realize the stronghold they have over us. It’s not that opinions are the problem. It’s that often times we allow our opinions to distance us from others. We often think in terms of buckets – them vs us, in vs out, yes vs no – which can easily, almost effortlessly morph into “right vs wrong.” And that’s where judgement comes in. Judgment is an opinion that carries moral weight.

The thing is though that we don’t have to take other people’s ideas personally. What someone else thinks is not a reflection of who we are. When we remember that we don’t have the power to control any mind but our own, we intercept our opinions and prevent them from becoming oppressive obligations. Instead, we can recognize that differing opinions doesn’t obligate or even permit us to judge the person who has the opinion. Because after all, we are also just another person with an opinion. So when we judge anyone, we are also judging ourselves.

What I’ve been working on is separation – separating the idea from the person. I don’t have to like or agree with anyone’s thoughts and opinions. In fact, I can vehemently, passionately disagree with them. But I can still respect the person, for all they are is another spiritual being having a human experience, just the same as me. They are doing the best they can with the circumstances, experiences, lessons, teachers, environment, and exposure they’ve been given. They may change. We may be able to help them change, but we are not able to make them change. In fact, to want them to change is judgmental. It’s the same as saying my way, or this way, is better than your way. Show them an option to consider, and then let it be. Love the person.

It’s worth noting that freeing ourselves and others from judgment is not the same as giving permission to inflict personal pain. We should always have and uphold standards for how we allow ourselves to be treated. Likewise, we should hold standards for what we are willing to be exposed to. I’m dealing with a personal situation where a person near and dear to my heart is struggling with a very self-destructive addiction. And I’m doing my very best to separate my opinions on the decisions this person is making from who this person is. Because I love this person. But I do not love his decisions. Putting appropriate boundaries in place is not a form of judgment.

Top Three Reasons Why Not to Judge:

  1. It allows us to remain connected.
  2. It frees us from feeling responsible. (With the exception of children and the incapacitated, feeling responsible for others and being able to control their actions is not the same.)
  3. It allows us to love.  (We can love others and ourselves more deeply because we aren’t actively, many times unconsciously, distancing ourselves.)

As my dear friend Rebecca and I were just joking about, we attract into our world that which we judge, which is of course no coincidence. These lessons from the Universe are what we continue to need to learn. We are given multiple opportunities to learn how to react differently. And when no longer judge that which we are attracting, it no longer appears for us not to judge. Ok that is hilariously confusing. Matt Kahn says it better: we attract what we judge, until we no longer judge what we attract.