Judgments: Defenders of Ego
The Quest for Purpose Continues
Judgments are what the mind makes. Constantly, incessantly, relentlessly weighing, analyzing, churning with alternatives and outcomes. Judgments are rendered in the form of adjectives, such as good, bad, beautiful, ugly, right, wrong, sturdy, decrepit, and so on.
Judgments create an illusory separation between the judge and the judged, when in reality there is no separation; we are all one, it is all one thing. When we judge another person, we are putting them either above us or beneath us. It is not possible to have a relationship with someone we put on a pedestal, or with someone we place beneath us. When we hold something in contempt, we consider it to be unworthy, beneath us and thus unacceptable. When we think of something as desirable, we admit it is not a part of us, we deny our oneness with it.
The mind is a goal-seeking, literal, humorless binary machine, not unlike a very advanced computer. The mind sees everything as either-or (binary) and not as a continuum of infinite variations (analog). The mind is programmable to seek goals and in fact needs goals or it will create some. The mind is literal, it interprets events and situations literally, as concrete facts and not metaphorically. The mind does not have a sense of humor any more than your computer does.
The mind is an exceptional tool for solving problems of analytical nature. It processes billions of sensory inputs every second and generates thoughts (conclusions, results) in even greater numbers. The mind is an incredible resource when used properly, for the challenges and tasks for which it is best equipped. The mind can bring about phenomenal innovations, inventions and revolutionary theories. The mind is not your enemy; it is not something to be vanquished.
Many years ago I was working as a project manager in HP's Operating Systems Laboratory in Cupertino, California. We were working on a new release of two operating systems, MPE and HP-UX, both built on a revolutionary new processor architecture called Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC). During the final year of the four-year project, we were all working seven days a week, 12 to 16 hours per day. The pressure to bring the new machines to market was intense.
By the time we released the software, I was completely burned out. I was making great money, had lots of stock options, stock grants and other perks but my life was not working for me — I was just working for a living. My marriage was on the rocks and my kids started to have problems. I was not alone. One of the firmware engineers committed suicide and several others had severe breakdowns.
I went to see my lab manager and told him that I am no good to myself and no good to HP in my present state. I told him I wanted to take a month off, go to Hawaii to recharge my batteries. He offered to pay for the trip. On the Kailua side of Oahu (away from the rush of Waikiki Beach and all the tourists), I ran into some people I later came to refer to as my Master Teachers. My teachers told me that if I wanted to have my life work better, I had to quiet my mind.
I was besides myself. "I make my living by using my mind!" I exclaimed. I argued with them, "I am not willing to have a lobotomy just so I could have some inner peace". They gently coached and guided me ("And how has your stinking thinking been working for you so far?", I still hear their words) until I surrendered and became willing to give their methods a try. I started observing my mind, watching it make judgments. I started meditating and a regimen of regular exercise. I studied the books they gave me and attended regular sessions with my teachers.
By the end of the month I was a different person. I have discovered a spiritual path. I continued with the practices I learned in Hawaii and the transformation accelerated. At first I was content, then happy and finally I was living in bliss. I had more than I ever dreamed I would have or need; I wanted for nothing. Through the years I have continued to develop and travel along the path started back on Oahu.
The linchpin of my transformation was the recognition and acceptance that my mind was not the ultimate arbiter, that it was not in charge of my life. I allowed my Higher Self to have a greater and greater voice in making life decisions. My mind was still functioning just as it has before except its scope of responsibilities has been curtailed to analytical problems — balancing the checkbook, choosing investments, organizing, planning tasks and such.
Because you are on a spiritual path it does not mean that all traffic lights will be green or that you will never get a flat tire or catch the common cold. These things happen. But if you follow though with the work ahead, you will not become upset or angry or frustrated or disappointed regardless what happens on the "outside".
The mind is not the instrument of spiritual evolution. It is not set up to make life choices.
Judgment and Discernment
When you express your feelings about a painting by saying it is "beautiful" or "ugly", you are making a judgment about it. When a waiter asks you if you would prefer soup or salad with your meal and you opt for the salad, are you making a judgment about the soup? No, you are simply stating a preference. If you would have said about the painting that it is not to your taste or it does not appeal to you or that you like it, you would not be making a judgment but showing discernment. This difference might be subtle but important none the less.
It is especially impractical to judge people. When we judge others we create separation between them and us thereby denying the unity which is the essential nature of the universe. When other people trigger emotions within us, it would be to our great benefit to recognize that they have something to teach us about ourselves. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, try to remember that the trait or behavior that irks you might be the quality within you that you are unwilling to acknowledge and accept.
When someone impresses you, it might be beneficial to examine if the impressive act or trait is what we ourselves aspire to but cannot find within. Anything which evokes an emotional response is a signpost that we may want to take a look within. It is not important to act on each of these signposts but it is important to recognize, acknowledge and honor them. This way we will notice if there is a recurring pattern.
When we become aware of a recurring pattern (notice absolute words like "always" and "never"), it will be helpful to start dealing with the underlying issue. Doing so will start eliminating the greatest causes of stress, discomfort, frustration, anger, jealousy, envy and so on.
The Christian Bible says (Matthew 7:1)
Judge not lest ye be judged.
and in Romans 12:19,
Judgment is mine saith the Lord.
yet Christians seem to judge others more harshly than most other faiths.
Elevating judgments (and the ensuing emotional responses) to discernment expressed as preferences will greatly increase inner peace and emotional stability. In other words, you will be happier.
Recall the example from Chapter I about the planned camping trip and pouring rain. If you would have expressed your preference for clear weather and then opted to make the best of the current situation, you would not have been upset. After all, you cannot control the weather so you might as well accept it!
Judgments lead to an attachment to a specific outcome (expectation) and attachments lead to disappointments. Expectations are a prescription for disappointment. Discernment leads to acceptance because it avoids separation. Homosexuality is not for me but I accept homosexuals just the way they are, without judgment or an emotional response. I also accept my choice of heterosexual lifestyle, not because it is "right" and homosexuality is "wrong" but because it works well for me, it is my choice and preference. I respect that others may make different choices.
Keep observing your mind making judgments. Make a conscious choice not to react to them, just let them go. Notice that over time your mind will start making fewer judgments. Recognize that the key to enduring happiness is to accept the emotionally unacceptable. We will look at acceptance a few chapters later but first we must address a much larger issue and that is taking responsibility for the choices we make.
In this chapter we looked at judgments and our mind's role in making them and examined how we can reprogram our mind to express preferences rather than to judge. In the next chapter we will explore the importance of personal responsibility and the many ways we seem to find to escape it.