There isn’t anybody, as far as I can tell, about whom I don’t carry some form of judgment.
I discovered this earlier this year while I was on a retreat and as I looked around the room at a large group of people whom I know fairly well. Was this true? I tilted my head a little, like a German Shepherd trying to decipher a peculiarly new sound. Looking around, row by row, person by person, it indeed was true, I had a judgment about everybody, with seemingly nobody excluded. But I love some of these people, I argued to myself. I looked around the room again, row by row, person by person, and this is where it became interesting. Not only was it true that I loved some of the people, but I loved all of them.
I played with this for a long time, going back and forth between judgment and love, and came to realize that I have a switch which I can toggle back and forth. One moment judgment, the next love, the next judgment, the next love. I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring and playing with this and the marvel that seems to be arising is that I actually have a choice as to the state of my mind when it comes to my relations with others. If I find myself feeling a judgment about someone, I can simply toggle that switch and love seems to naturally arise in its stead. Although this love can have many flavors – fondness, appreciation, empathy, feelings of kindness, all of them feel like they are part of a greater sense of love.
This judgment isn’t just a clear discernment, but rather is a subtle negative energetic, reflecting in some way a “faultiness” of the other. With most people it is very slight, but it’s still universally there if I look. I’m not fully sure what to make of this, but I am actually quite excited about it, not about the judgment per se but more so about the recognition that these judgments are simply a state of mind and are not necessarily reflective of an actual truth. Perhaps even more exciting is that there seems to be a practical intervention, a switch that I can flip as soon as I recognize that judgment is arising.
I’m not saying that judgment or love are the only options available, but there seems to be a direct toggle between the two, almost as if there is a universal equation where
judgment = the absence of love
love = the absence of judgment
We all have judgments which arise in our lives. But why? What purpose do these judgments serve? For me, I can only conjecture that there is a sense of safety/comfort in being separate from, distant from, other than. In some cases, perhaps some form of projection is at play. Whatever it is, it seems to have a protective function and I’m pleased to be learning that it is gloriously optional.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”