“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you
While I had said I was not going to publish a Daily today, Thanksgiving Day, I changed my mind after I read the following on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Thanksgiving blog. I think many of us would do well if we were less judgmental and more understanding.
From Michael Berg:
“It is easy to judge others and find fault in them; it is sometimes even enjoyable. Yet in reality, if our aim is to draw greater blessings and fulfillment into our lives, it is one of the most dangerous things we can do.
When we judge others we often think that we are simply making an observation, and that this action or thought will not affect us. However this is not the case. When we judge others we are awakening and connecting ourselves to a force of judgment. It is like trying to throw mud at someone – we might or might not hit them but we are definitely tainted by the mud. And by acting in this way we don’t necessarily affect the other person, but we most definitely draw the energy of judgment and lack into ourselves.
I am often asked, ‘We know that there are no coincidences, but why, then, do we see faults in others if it is wrong to judge people?’ The kabbalists teach that as easy as it is to see shortcomings in others, it is almost impossible for an individual to truly find and assess his or her own faults. In order to change and grow we need to be able to know what it is about ourselves that we need to transform. Yet if we are never completely capable of seeing our own faults, how will we change?
In order to assist us, the Creator created endless mirrors for each of us that allow us to clearly see what we have to change. These mirrors are all the people that are in our lives every day. Every fault we see in another person is an indication that we have an aspect of that issue within ourselves. In fact, the reality is that the only reason we are being shown these flaws in others is to realize that they also exist within ourselves. How silly is it then that we often disregard this and focus on what is wrong with other people?
The kabbalists use a simple story to illustrate this lesson. A man spends all of his day in a coal mine and his entire body and face are filthy. As he arrives home he sees a mirror his wife has bought. He looks at the mirror and sees that his reflection is dirty, so he takes a rag and starts cleaning the mirror. He tries and tries with all his might but his face still remains dirty. Of course this man is acting foolishly, as it is not a problem with the mirror but rather his own filth. This is how we usually behave—we see a reflection of our less-than-perfect traits in others, and rather than realizing that we are seeing this in order to change and perfect ourselves, we stay focused on the faulty mirror.
If we truly integrate this understanding into our lives, the next time we feel the urge to judge others we will instead look inward and find how we too possess the fault we see and forget about judging anyone. By acting in this way we protect ourselves from drawing the energy of judgment and lack into our lives. And most importantly, we gain a clear direction for own transformation and growth.”
Michael Berg is a Kabbalah scholar and author. He is co-Director of The Kabbalah Centre.
From Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel:
“What I hear in this question is a common concern for all of us: we want to be able to respond to our relationships with skillfulness and clarity. But when we critically examine, say, a conflict we might be having with a friend or family member, we often find ourselves judging others based on ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ So to me the fundamental question comes down to this: ‘Is there a way of working with relationships without judging or ignoring?’
For me this question opened up a query into the difference between discernment and judgment. When we look at another human being—or ourselves—we see that we are not ‘one way.’ Human beings are creative and destructive, cranky and kind, joyful and miserable…it’s impossible to pin down a human being. We are always a ‘work in progress.’ So when we judge others (or ourselves) we are objectifying or seeing them in a one-dimensional way. There is a closing down around a negative idea, and simultaneously, there is a non-acceptance of the “fullness” of who they are. This is why, when we judge others, we experience first and foremost the negativity of our own mind.
One thing I like to do when I find myself in these situations is to try to remember at least two other qualities about the person whom I have just ‘put in a box.’ For instance, aside from what is irritating us, we may acknowledge that she is a good mother to her children. We may remember that she brought us soup when we were sick. In this way, all of us move out of our tendency to judge them—to form a solid picture of them—which in turn moves us out of our own negativity. This helps us see this person more fully, which, if we are honest with ourselves, is more accurate.
This doesn’t mean that this person doesn’t exhibit habits that challenge us. Nor does it mean that we shouldn’t also find a way to work with or even communicate with this person, set boundaries, and so on… But when we don’t shut down by making judgments, the atmosphere of our minds is open, gentle and non-reactive. This gives us a greater capacity for clear seeing and how to relate to them skillfully in order to obtain a positive outcome.
I deeply believe that seeing the fullness of others, in all their pain and glory, allows us to express the greatest love and respect we can offer. It is an unconditional kind of love. And this kind of love has a profound effect on our own minds.
Not long ago a dear friend of mine lost her father. She told me that after his passing, her family and friends began to praise and deify him. Although she adored and respected her father, this was hard for her. She said that her father was many things: he was intelligent and kind, but also sometimes rough and gritty, ‘like a prickly pear cactus.’ She had trouble listening to people describe her father in such a one-dimensional way. She felt that her love for her father included the fullness of his human-ness.
I found this touching because her love for her father was inclusive … she didn’t have to forget or disregard him in any way. She could accept him completely for who he was. She was able to see him clearly and accept him fully, both at the same time.
We can have an inclusive stance that makes room for the full humanity of others. From this ground, we can respond to a parent, friend or co-worker without judgment. When we realize that we can be both open and discerning at the same time, we experience freedom from negativity and meaningfulness in our relationship with the world.”
Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel is a Buddhist scholar and the author of the book, The Power of an Open Question
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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