“Do not judge” is one of the spiritual essentials of “moral conduct”. Yet anyone who tries to completely eliminate judging from their experience as a human being may find it impossible. Often spiritual seekers feel great frustration for not being able to practice being “non judgmental” and perceive this as destructive to their spiritual evolution.
Let’s see why “no judging” is such an impossible thing to eliminate completely from your perception and yet how you can integrate the non-judging practice into your spiritual daily life.
If you are interested in exploring this matter, please keep flowing with me.
Life is suffering
Our identification with our physical body as the definition of who we are causes existence to manifest as ongoing suffering with short breaks of periods of happiness.
The reason for this is that the physical body, as a temporary and fragile substance, is in a constant survival mode. It needs food and shelter, it ages, and it can be easily injured or infected by disease. It can be eaten externally and internally; it can be destroyed by the elements and it ceases to exist when its time comes. As a consequence our experience, in the physical body, is based on fear of cessation.
Being conscious of all of the above and fearing it is the ultimate configuration for suffering.
As a result of the above, existence in a physical form turns survival into our first and most powerful drive.
Judging as a survival drive
Making judgments is a device used to evaluate situations, in any given moment, from the point of view of our safety.
The action of judging will always be based on our concern: “Is it good for me or not?”
I do not think he is a nice guy…
She seems very aggressive…
She is very selfish.
He is not trustworthy.
The dictionary definition for judging:
- “To infer, think, or hold as an opinion;”
- “To assess; to form an opinion about something or someone.”
- To estimate.
- To criticize someone or something, especially severely; to condemn.
- The cognitive process of reaching a decision or drawing conclusions
So we can say judging is an evaluation instinct for our safety.
As survivors, we have an instinct that indicates to us in any given moment what is good for us and what is dangerous — who is our ally and who is our enemy. It happens simultaneously with every change that occurs in our environment that we are aware of. Our reaction is based on our instant safety evaluation (or judgment) and it may vary from moment to moment as we rely upon the conclusion of our judgments.
When you walk on the street and you see a small puppy you will judge the dog (“what a cute one”) and react by walking towards it to play with it. If you see a huge scary dog, you will judge the dog (“this dog is not a nice one”) and then react by crossing to the other side of the street. In both cases, you judged the dogs and the situation.
When your mother enters the room where you are sitting and reading, you judge her and the event as she enters the room.
- You may not even lift your eyes off the book you’re reading because you quickly evaluate the occurrence as a completely safe one.
- You may find her annoying as she is making too much noise and distracting you from reading (“she is so annoying”).
- You may find her sweet as she is bringing you cookies and milk (“she is a cool mom”).
- You may jump up panicky if you are reading a Playboy magazine, knowing the reaction won’t be in your favor if she finds out (“she is so nosey”).
In each of the above examples you are judging the situation and reacting or not reacting upon your evaluation of the situation in relation to your “safety”.
Your judgmental device will act even more intensely when a total stranger enters the room, as you have no advance information about him the way you have about your mom.
He is a weirdo…
He is so unpleasant.
He seems kind…
I do not trust him.
He is phony.
He has an attitude.
He seems aggressive.
All of the above judgments are evaluations from the point of view of your own safety.
Not only do we survive to exist on the physical level, we must also survive on the social level as a remnant of our long ago circumstances when being part of a group or a tribe was crucial for our physical survival. Groups were the protection of the individual.
As a result, judging developed beyond just “fight or flight”. We also use it as a constant classification of the people around us depending on their social relation to us.
So we judge people:
I like him; he is a nice guy,
I do not like him, he seems snobbish.
I like him, he is a gentleman.
I do not like him, he is too superior.
Judging is a surviving reflex that we do instantly and constantly no different than dogs who sense and evaluate other dogs they meet on the sidewalk; we just do it in a more sophisticated way.
Sometimes we are tuned in and our judgments are deadly right. But sometimes we come with old perceptions and we project them onto people and situations; by doing so we may be missing the point. If you meet a person that reminds you of your nasty childhood teacher you may instantly judge this person as unlikable even though she is great. Being aware of our judging reflex and knowing that it can serve us (as well as lead us astray) makes us in charge of our moments. Instead of being driven by being judgmental, you simply use it when it is useful.
To discuss this posting or to comment, please visit the forum topic dedicated to this article.