by: Leatrice Evanne Asher
One definition of judgment is the ability to make thoughtful decisions, such as when to safely cross a street or deciding which car to purchase. Another meaning of judgment is criticism or condemnation of someone or something, which is our usual way of perambulating through life—judging all that is not to our liking. The significance of these aversions is greater than we may realize – whatever we judge we cannot fully know.
We undermine our ability to perceive the essence of anything that we want to be other than what it is, like wishing for a sunny day instead of rain. We may think this type of thinking irrelevant and inconsequential, but it isn’t. Each time we desire something other than what is before us, we are distancing ourselves from the knowing of reality—the Ultimate Reality of every living thing. We are also distancing ourselves from love; whether our disapproval is of the weather or another person, judgment and love cannot coexist.
Love is not possible with preconditions that must first be met. If we do find someone aligned with those conditions, we may then declare love for that person. If there isn’t an alignment, not only do we not profess love but often disdain for anyone we may conclude is not good enough for us. In this way, we amass a truckload of what we consider to be “unacceptables.” Fault-finding is like a film that overlays Truth and our ability to experience greater degrees of consciousness. If we can open to experiencing ourselves in the act of fault-finding, we can change course. We can’t change what we are not yet aware of, but we can choose to be aware. We can choose to observe how judgments keep us in an unloving state.
We have different associations with the word love—love for a child, a parent, a friend, love of our country, love for things of nature. Because love tends to have a different and particular significance when applied to that which occurs between two people who are smitten with one another, it’s important to look deeper. We often refer to these relationships as “being in love,” but the language speaks for itself. When we’re in something, the potential exists to be out of it as well. And isn’t this often the case that we are perpetually in and out of relationships? Love is a creative force, not something we give and retrieve at will. Its motive is itself, not ownership, mere attraction, or desire. If we give our attention to another while wanting something back in return, and if that “something” isn’t forthcoming, we may no longer wish to be with that person but will seek someone who will give us what we want or be what we want them to be. It’s no wonder that most expressions of love are also anchored to judgment. And no wonder as well that so many “in love” relationships don’t last.
Of course, we have preferences: we like the color blue, want to live near the ocean, prefer dogs to cats and so on. You may ask, so what’s the problem? The problem is not with preferences but negativity and rejection toward anything that is not of our choosing. We certainly have a right not to accept conduct from someone we feel is unprincipled, but then rejecting that doer puts us in an unloving state. And really, who are we to judge, to declare someone or something better than another someone or something? Each time we dislike, devalue, reject: days that are too hot, too cold, too rainy; body parts that we hate; all the people who disturb us because they are not the way we want them to be, we distance ourselves further from what is actually before us. This tendency to turn away from people and things that are not of our liking keeps us moored in an alternate universe, not the original state of the Now.
Agape, a word of Greek origin, speaks to greater love, not one based on preference. Agape is being love. Although some declarations of love may be an expression of this higher form of love, for example, a parent’s love for a child rarely is this the case in romantic alliances. How many divorces and other relationships that terminate have one or both parties declaring in the aftermath that they no longer love the other? Likely, a good many. True, we may not be able to continue a relationship (with a partner, family member, friend) for justifiable reasons, but to say we no longer love someone suggests that we never loved them to begin with. Agape is unconditional love, not predicated on our needs being met. The pain and turmoil that arises in many relationships are often due to rejecting whatever doesn’t align with our desires.
Relationships are also Karmic, those who have been part of our learning environment throughout many incarnations. It will be helpful to regard these associations as a way needed lessons are brought to the fore. When relationships are approached from this more expansive viewing field, the tendency to judge will diminish as we will be perceiving from a broader perspective. We don’t have to ignore traits in our chosen mate, in others, or ourselves that bother us as that would be an untruth. When we acknowledge the karmic necessity of being positioned in a particular relationship, even if at that moment we don’t fully understand the lesson before us, we are opening up our territory for new information to reach us. We can assist this process by noting recurring patterns in the people and situations that become part of our storyline. Our lessons are embedded there. As we can continue to stay open to whatever information is trying to reach us through those people, those circumstances, we can bring ease to our troubles as we awaken to the exact lessons seeking our attention. There is joy in being fully present in the unfolding of precisely what is before us.
Regarding the natural world, there is nothing that is not a perfect, authentic representation of itself because there is nothing that is not a part of consciousness. Examining the world through a lens of good or bad, acceptable or not acceptable, is the single greatest hindrance to seeing clearly; ultimately, to Conscious Awakening. As we are dismissing the parts of our earthly experience that we don’t like, we are shoring up untruths about ourselves and the everyday world we inhabit. This propensity to judge almost everything can be brought into our awareness by experiencing ourselves censuring in-the-moment; if not then, at least upon later reflection. We censure from preconceived notions about how the world is supposed to be, not from the Truth—that we are being provided exactly what we need to awaken to what we are but don’t yet know.
Truth is not quantifiable. It is not of degrees nor attributes. It’s humans who assign quantifiable attributes to things, including other humans. This ranking and rating is not an innocent undertaking. All this comparing and labeling diminishes our ability to perceive accurately; yet, almost everything that makes up our world is subject to this scrutiny—a sunset is beautiful, a garbage can is not; we love flowers but hate weeds; we celebrate life and dread death. These examples are just a mere part of all that we not only judge but often brace against. If we’re not sighting/in-sighting from an actual state of things, we are not in a loving place. This should concern us—that we may not always be as loving a person as we think we are. If we can open to experiencing unloving tendencies and do so without recoiling from or judging them, we then have the opportunity to change course. We can’t alter what is not yet known. We can make those unknown tendencies known.
It can’t be said often enough that there are no good or bad places to reside; yet, the psyche continues to entrench in this concept. If you are fully present, whoever you are with, wherever you are, whatever the situation, that is as straight up as you can get. That presence is what situates us in the reality of the Now. We unsettle ourselves by separating from what we don’t like and don’t want to face. This penchant for fault-finding drives almost all human actions and leads to the contraction of our being and the ensuing pain and difficulties that result from that closed-off state. When only certain things, certain people are acceptable to us, deserving of our attention, we reside heavily in rejection – of all we encounter that is not to our liking. The tragedy is in all the missed opportunities to merge with the intrinsic essence of this world we inhabit.
We can realize this propensity to judge by observing it operating. First, we must decide if we are open to new information reaching us, even if those particulars are difficult to witness. It may be frightening to behold unflattering aspects of ourselves, especially those gnarly places we tend to avoid or pretend don’t exist. But the only way to fine-tune our awareness is to stay-put through those images, that fear, through whatever arises. That willingness is the pathway to self-knowledge. Once we see how judgment disconnects us from a more expansive, loving state, we will bring that understanding to the many situations that arise in our daily operations. The outgrowth of this resolve is to abide in joy as we experience just this moment being enough.