Nothing creates separation and discord among human beings more than when we judge each other. While this is true, judge is a word that causes confusion for many of us.
On one hand, for centuries humanity has received countless messages through spiritual masters from all walks of life instructing us not to judge. Two of the most well-known are the biblical verses citing Jesus as saying,
“Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and,
“Let he who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”
On the other hand, most of us would agree that we certainly need to use our judgment skills to navigate through this very complicated, polarized physical world of experience.
No wonder we are confused! In the strictly literal sense, some of the definitions of judge are:
- a person qualified to decide on the relative worth of anything
- to criticize or censure
- a person designated to determine the winner
Wow! When we apply these definitions to how we engage with other people, it brings up a lot of questions. For example, who among us is the one person who is supremely qualified to decide on the worth of anything? Who among us appreciates being criticized or censured? And, how about, who among us is the ultimate judge of who is a winner?
In order to understand what is meant by letting go of judgment of others, we need to adopt a more neutral interpretation of the word judge. Rather than construing the word judge in a polarized way that involves attacking or assessing the value of another person, we can rise to a higher perspective by perceiving judgment as an act of discernment. We need to use our skills of judgment to discern situations, opportunities, agreements, and decisions to determine what is in our greatest good.
How do we differentiate between the polarized perception of judge versus the more enlightened, neutral interpretation?
A good point of reference to determine this is to ask ourselves, “What is the source of my judgment?” If it is coming from an intuitive space guiding us to make choices that are in our greatest good, we are most likely coming from a space of spiritual integrity. When we judge from this neutral perspective, we are assessing and evaluating objective things, such as a baseball game, a career opportunity, deciding on a financial investment, or choosing which college to attend. If we find ourselves subjectively judging another person, then the source of our judgment is coming from ego in that we have determined our superiority over some else. When we do this, we are, in essence, proclaiming ourselves to be the expert in someone else’s life. The ego perspective implies that we think we have the answers to someone else’s problems. Judging others is usually a sign that we have decided someone else needs to act the way we want them to. We are saying we are right, and someone else is wrong, which almost always creates conflict.
How can we let go of judging others?
We begin by reaching into our hearts (not our heads) to remember compassion. Compassion is a deep level of kindness in which we are open to trying to understand where other people are coming from by putting ourselves in their shoes. We acknowledge that we have not experienced their victories, their losses, their relationships, and their pain. We draw on our own experiences to understand other people more than we seek for others to understand us. We practice treating other people the way we want to be treated. We also take responsibility for the fact that when we judge another, we are also judging ourselves. Whatever we find annoying in another person is an aspect that, to a greater or lesser degree, we need to heal within ourselves.
Being non-judgmental requires that we choose to look beneath the behaviors we are witnessing and focus on the soul level of our fellow humans. There is a principle called the “Pygmalion Effect” (from the popular book of the same name or the movie, “My Fair Lady”) that exemplifies this state of grace. This principle states that if we expect the best from another and communicate such to them, they will respond by adjusting their behavior to match. The main idea concerning The “Pygmalion Effect” is that if you believe that someone is capable of achieving greatness, then you have created a space of potential for that person to achieve greatness. Stated simply, when we let go of judging others, we focus on the goodness (Godness) within everyone, rather than what is wrong with them. When we practice being non-judgmental, we offer others the opportunity to find themselves and to meet us partway.
The famous Sufi poet, Rumi, expressed this truth so eloquently when he said:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Love and Light,
I welcome your comments, insights, and experiences on how we can let go of judgment of others.