The wise say : ‘It is good for ourselves and others to be non-judgmental. Being judgemental makes relationships difficult and sour. Being non-judgemental brews harmonious and wholesome relationships.’ Saying it is really easy isn’t it. When I look at a mean woman who is boasting herself and showing her possessions off or when I look at a nasty friend who tries to backstab me and make his way off, oh well, when I look at those people who call themselves ‘good’ and make it a big farce of ‘goodness’ and ‘righteousness’ with a snobbishness that they do not realize they trouble others with, well how the hell am I supposed to stay ‘non-judgemental’ of them and just what does that mean?
This thought in my mind intrigued me for quite sometime after an incident.
One of my friends was relating to me her experience. Her marriage is going through bit of a rough patch. She visited another couple’s house and related to me how the lady there kept telling her how happy she was in her marriage and how bad my friend’s husband is. And the gentleman there, kept ‘advising’ my friend’s husband of how wrong he is and how bad he is. All the while emphasizing the fact that they ( the lady and the gentleman ) are very ‘lucky’ and special, intensifying the pain for my friend, while she felt more doomed and miserable in her situation.
Hearing this, I felt some uncomfortable sensations passing through my body. I felt this couple smacked of ‘self-righteousness’ and ‘self-aggrandizement’. And to think that this couple was doing all that with a supposed intention of ‘setting right’ my friend’s family was even more disturbing. I would have been just as hurt as my friend had been, if I were in her position.
While I listened to this tale from my friend, I was able to empathize with the pain and hurt that she felt. My friend showed immense courage and wisdom however, in intending to let it go and still wish the couple extended happiness. I felt however that its better that she keeps her distance for now from that couple who are on a ‘high’ in their lives and who would definitely not understand what it is that is needed to actually guide and help my friend’s marriage.
My friend left after a touching tete-a-tete with me. After she left, my mind was for a moment filled with strong dislike towards that couple who are mutual friends for me too, with whom I had long started maintaining a distance. But something was wrong… something… not just in them but in my own thoughts towards them. I could not put my fingers on it. All I knew was that my mind was disturbed and no attempt to look at this couple with loving-kindness seem to help. It simply didn’t come from my heart and peace seemed to run afar from my mind.
I woke up on this Sunday morning feeling quite pained by these thoughts. I meditated for the morning hour as usual. The thoughts ran in my mind for sometime. Before long, my mind was more concentrated on the meditation, ignoring the thoughts which silenced within a few minutes. After an hour’s session, my mind was feeling refreshed for sometime. As I had my morning chaay, the earlier thoughts started to rush in again.
This time however, only one thought struck me dominantly, ‘just what is it, that is wrong with my feelings towards this couple? ‘. It’s true that I strongly sensed the ‘self-righteousness’ and ‘self-aggrandizement’ and what I felt as sheer selfishness of this couple. Whatever was wrong with me, still that ‘judgment’ had less chances to be wrong, I presumed. So if I am to be non-judgmental, just what does that mean and just how does that benefit anyways? Is being non-judgmental something very idealistic that is only the walk of highly evolved saints and not ordinary mortals like us? Oh, but such admonishing is given by saints for ordinary mortals like me indeed, says my conscience. How the hell does it help at all then?, I wondered.
And then a a-haaa struck , a flash of insight , well if I might call it so. Being judgmental does not mean that we brush aside and suppress the fact that somebody’s action is potentially causing unwholesomeness for others and themselves. It just means that when we see something unwholesome in action either in others or in our own selves, we don’t need to DISLIKE the behavior or the people involved. On the same lines, when we see something fine and wholesome in other’s behavior we don’t need to LIKE it. The moment we start Liking, we seed an equal potential to dislike. And once we start preferring things, we brew misery and disharmony.
A simple objective observation of how wholesomeness brews harmony and love is good, but to start to favour the people who behave so, as though that is special is actually a cause of misery, if you look at it deeply. The more we think wholesome behavior is ‘special’, the more we start to hate unwholesomeness in others and in our own selves. The more we hate something, the more we clasp it, and the more incapable we become in truly learning the art of letting go of unwholesomeness. Unwholesomeness needs to be seen for what it is, accepted and simply not meddle with it and wish it to change. Letting go means to simply let it be and let it pass without our impositions and forcefulness. Letting go means not to take action on it and from it.
For long, I have been able to see my own unwholesome behavior with a certain kind of an objectivity, that does not require any shame or guilt. It just requires us to see them ‘as it is’. ‘Ok, my anger or my fear is there. It is impermanent and it will go. It arises with a cause and I don’t have to believe what it says. It has its own nature’. Understanding its nature, I simply allow it to pass when it has to, without having to force it out or wanting badly to change it. Struggling against habitual tendencies to force out my unwholesomeness, eventually I come to a place of peace with it.
Similarly, instead of saying ‘this couple is selfish and insensitive’, I can just see it as, ‘there is selfishness at this moment in this couple. It comes and it passes’. For all the sensibility that I have seen in them previously, this particular nature will heal too. I don’t have to ‘box’ this couple as selfish and insensitive. They are humans just as vulnerable as me to the quirks of the mind and the psyche. I don’t need to dislike the couple for this purpose, just as I don’t dislike myself for whatever unwholesomeness I struggle with, within myself. I know that unwholesomeness in one always harms oneself first before it harms others. It’s a fact that I perceive unwholesomeness in this couple. This couple might suffer due to their unwholesomeness if what I perceive is true.
Now a wish passed in my mind, may they heal and come out of their suffering as soon as is possible. May a higher force help them, just as it helps me. If I dislike them for my perception of their behavior, then I should dislike myself for whatever unwholesomeness I perceive in myself. And I have known that is not wise or beneficial.
Lesson learnt: When there is unwholesomeness in oneself or the other, recognize it for what it is: its potential to harm oneself and others. Accept it and look at it more like how a mother looks at a fractious kid. Just like how the unwholesomeness is handled with care, caution and love within myself and just like how I give it a loving space to heal, just so, the others whom I tend to ‘judge’ need to be given the same space to heal. I don’t need to change them, I don’t need to give them a piece of my mind. I need to let go of their behavior. I need to pray for them and if at all I need to be of help for them to heal truly if they are willing to take that help. At the least, I need to wish that they get every possible appropriate help for them to soon realize and heal their unwholesomeness if what I have perceived is true. At the same time, I need to wish my own friend who suffered their unwholesomeness and wish that she continues to be wise and let go of them for sometime.
To reflect a little deeply, not to judge others as well as oneself is to see things objectively for what it is, just as it is. Not to judge is to recognize the truth of impermanence, of phenomena which arise due to a cause and passes out when the cause is deplenished. Not to judge is to realize that ‘persons’ don’t cause their behaviors. The mind within me, its nature, is the same in others as it is in me. We are all one. We are all the same. Unwholesomeness in others is a manifestation of the same mind, the same nature in ‘me’ too. The moment ‘I’ am separate from others, the first to suffer is ‘I’.
Simply speaking, I was able to feel deeply what the wise meant: not to judge others means to let go of liking or disliking them or their behaviors and allowing them space to be human. And that space is to be allowed within our own minds.
Calm and peace. Then it was that a feeling of loving-kindness from deep within my heart welled up towards this couple just like how it did for my friend and for myself too!. It made my day enriched. I was humbled.
Check out another post on “Sleight of judgmentalism” https://emotionallyintelligentleader.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/sleight-of-judgmentalism-seeing-through-it/