“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” These words from Mother Teresa deeply strike the human heart. The condition of our relationships with others depends upon our maturity and awareness. I’ve got to laugh at many of my own follies. In my youth, filled with an electric zest for life, I was so convinced I had all the answers, not only for myself, but for everyone else. I was going to set the world ablaze with my righteous conclusions. But, wait a moment… as I grew more mature, I realized that many of my answers weren’t mine: they were hand-me-down beliefs I’d received from others. What did I really know?
I know now it is unfair to judge others based upon the illusions I’ve created about their conduct. It’s unfair of me to judge them for what they believe. It’s unfair for me to judge them for their convictions. There are as many different ways of looking at life as there are minds. It takes great maturity to realize that we’re all seeing others through our own filters. So many of our sufferings start when we misread what others say and do. Oh, yes, we feel certain we are correct in our judgment, but the glaring fact remains that there are always two sides to every issue. Compassion is what allows us to stop and view another’s behavior from the other side. I’m not saying you have to agree, just to understand. In such understanding, anger borne of judgment dissolves.
It’s very mentally tidy to make this a black-and-white world of absolute rights and wrongs. Let’s face it: self-righteousness feels good. Anger feels good, but the damage and the hangover don’t. Critical, judgmental behavior doesn’t prove we’re right, and it doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to be kind and fair. How can we be fair unless we understand both sides of an issue and examine them without bias? Here lies the human challenge of conscious awareness. We must first be aware of the conclusions about life and others that we’ve stored away in our subconscious. Our emotions, especially those that burst forth from seemingly nowhere, are actually long-held conclusions that have been formed by our thoughts, beliefs, and habit patterns. We often receive our biases from others rather than figuring them out for ourselves. How many of us take time to see what we actually believe and think?
We judge because we want to be right. We want to be right and prove others wrong to make ourselves feel more righteous, more clean, more elevated, different, and separate from those not like us. And isn’t it just this sense of separation that blinds us to others’ goodness? Our unexamined conclusions become our filters. Our filters become masks that we hide behind, pretending to be what we’re not. Any threat of exposure brings anger. The greatest pain, and the greatest fear, is that we are unloved and unworthy. I, for one, do not wish to inflict such hurt upon others by my judgment of their behavior or their beliefs. Therefore, I take myself to task by daily examination of the thoughts that flow across my mental screen.
Setting aside time each day for contemplation and meditation allows us to begin to see the thoughts which create our filters and blinders. Sitting quietly and just observing them, noticing them, is the first step in allowing them to dissolve on their own. Bear in mind, we always judge ourselves first before we judge others. Yet how many of us are aware of this? The moment the bubble of “me first” bursts, our separateness is gone and others are seen without judgment. They are seen for the beauty that so often hides from exposure. We see their beauty, because we see our own beauty first. We see all the many ways we are alike. We see beyond the surface of beliefs, theories, and stories. We see beyond the mind into the real beating heart of a person who just wants to be loved, to be held, to be wanted, who seeks to come home.
Without judgment, love rushes to fill the void! Let us all love others as we wish to be loved.
Reflections from Turtle Lake