Becoming More Mindful

Judge Not

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Many of you know this phrase from the New Testament; some of you may even be an adherent. Yet, sadly, I know that many of you also have a very difficult time applying this to your lives. If you are willing to stay with me to the end, I can break this phrase down for you, so you can truly understand the depth of his teaching and the apply it to your life.

What is judgment exactly? The problem we face is that there are actually two principle definitions of judgment. Essentially judgment is a comparison, but one form goes deeper than the other.

Let’s start with the more basic form. If I see a large ball next to a small one, I can judge one ball to be heavier than the other. If I am in traffic about to take a turn, I can judge whether or not based on the oncoming traffic I can make the turn safely. This is the first type of judgment, which we can call objective judgment and principally concerns itself with facts or objective reality. Once a judgment has been made, the train of thought is finished and you go on about your day.

The second form of judgment, which we can call subjective judgment, comes in this form: I see myself as better because I am more beautiful than another, therefore I judge the other as ugly and therefore worse. “Being beautiful” is a relatively defined term that can only exist if its opposing term is defined, i.e. ugliness. So this second form of judgment differs greatly from the first in that it concerns itself with opinion and a subjective reality. There is no scientific basis for what is “beautiful” or “ugly”. The problem with this form of judgment is that once the judgment has been made, it doesn’t go away. In fact, it is self-perpetuated in order to exist and therefore far more pernicious compared to the former. If I judge myself as beautiful, then I need to continue judging another as ugly so I can feel superior to the other.  The other is less worthy and inferior from the point of view of a relative standard. Similarly, the more the Israeli judges the Palestinian as less worthy and inferior to itself – the more superior the Israeli feels, the more it needs to continue judging the Palestinian as inferior. The Christian feels superior to all other religions because she believes that she and her tribe are going to heaven, while all others are going to hell.  And this type of subjective judgment, which is self-perpetuated, must lead inevitably to conflict and violence. The Nazi must feel that Jews are inferior and sub-human, only then can he herd them to the gas chambers. The policeman must dehumanize and animalize a black man in order to treat him more viciously.

We can continue to extrapolate this same mechanism in multifarious aspects of our lives and thus we arrive at a standard that delineates and judges that which is better and superior and that which is worse and inferior.  After a while, as we can see in this world, this dualistic standard takes on a life of its own. The standards of beauty might change, but the underlying mechanism to feel superior exists all the same. One polarity needs its opposite and needs to remain in conflict with it, in order to exist. Therefore, judgment creates and perpetuates conflict.

As we see, subjective judgment ALWAYS leads to more subjective judgment.  It is a quagmire that sucks us down, and once we start, we cannot stop until either we destroy ourselves or we eventually begin questioning the arbitrary standard itself from which we are judging.  And to question the mechanism of subjective judgment is particularly difficult to do in our world because it requires us to think critically about it, which as you will see, is very difficult to do.

As ubiquitous as water is to the fish, so pervasive is subjective judgment in our society.  It permeates the air we breathe, we are bombarded with its agents on TV, and it has gone largely unrecognized for the malignant cancer that it is.  The very foundations of many institutions that we have today would crumble if the world truly started questioning these arbitrary standards upon which we are perpetually judging all around us. The military industrial complex survives today because the citizens of one country have judged citizens of another countries’ as less worthy.  Some lives are dehumanized and looked upon as bearing no more importance than that of insects, and this allows one nation to embark upon a war as an aggressor towards another, to engage in wars to kill, to exterminate, to count casualties as if treating vermin and not human beings.

As a result of the human species’ propensity to divide itself into sections of better or worse, we are now living in a win-lose paradigm that is rife with struggle and conflict amidst varying classes of ideologies.  The very fact that so many people have idolized violence in our society indicates that the human species, in general, is in need of tremendous healing as well.  It is the epidemic of subjective judgment run riot.

When you see the wars on TV, the violence that is rampant on our planet, do not think that you are an innocent bystander and have no hand or responsibility at all. As Krishna explains in his wonderful treatise, there is no such thing as non-action; hence, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men and women to stand idly by. If you have stood idly by, then at some level of your being, you have accepted that it is okay to judge another acceptable of being killed.  Make no mistake – you are an unconscious but nonetheless willing accomplice in such crimes against humanity and not acting is the same as allowing evil to persist. 

If you are a frequent reader of this blog and are open to the ideas presented here, then you have made the effort to raise yourself above the fear-based consciousness.  You, therefore, have a responsibility to speak out in whatever way that you can by whatever small or large means, as I am, upon the madness that you see all around you. You have a duty to overcome the propensity to judge, to renounce it completely with every fiber of your being, in the hopes that those who are wandering in darkness around you may be awakened to the Light.

If there are agents of judgment all around you, which there inevitably are, then it is your responsibility to become an agent of non-judgment.  Do not turn others into the enemy as this is the very trap of judgment itself. Instead, you must look upon all around you, even those who you think unworthy, those least-deserving, and somehow see the humanity in them. When others may judge you with disdain, anger and resentment, you have no choice but to return the volley with compassion, forgiveness, and kindness.  You have no other choice because you know that judgment only leads to more judgment, which leads to conflict and then inevitable violence.

So, we must see the humanity in even the most so-called wretched, for if we judge them as wretched, then we are simply taking the other side of wretched and in our petty desire to feel superior, we need the wretched to exist to feel better about ourselves.  To be an agent of non-judgment, you must see the humanity in all. 

Try, for example, to see the humanity in the violent criminal, in the prostitute, in the drug addict, in all those who you have deemed as less worthy.  It may be difficult at the onset, but it can be done with persistent effort and with right practice. Don’t forget to start at home and see the humanity in yourself, when you are at your worst and least-deserving.  It’s not in the scope of this article to go into exactly how to transcend a specific judgment you may have – we will do that in other articles. But know that it is always, always, always possible to dismantle subjective judgment by seeing through the lens of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness, provided that you are looking in the right way.  

Judge not therefore – let’s make a better world by leaving subjective judgment behind!