Today I wondered about Judgment. It is so darn pervasive in culture. Advertisements on how to be better, stronger, prettier, more this or that… It continues perpetually. Of course all of this implies that you aren’t “that” whatever “it” is yet, and you need to buy/acquire something something so you reach that of perfection if you see yourself as less than and are looking up to an imaginary ideal.
I am grateful that I gave up on trying to impress others or be the smartest, most attractive, etc., etc. years ago. I stopped wearing makeup more than ten years ago when I learned how toxic the chemicals were and didn’t see the point to the daily rituals of putting on a face and then taking it off at night.
Or, you see yourself already at the pinnacle and look down to others around you. This is the judgment I struggle with. It can be sneaky. The news is filled with horrific stories of someone hurting another or traumatizing another. I am guilty of saying, “Well at least I’m not as bad as that.” Or there’s a person who appears to weigh about five hundred pounds and I think, “Well at least I have more self control in what I eat.” You get the point.
Judgment is really a reflection of myself, of an aspect of myself that I am rejecting. When I judge someone for hurting another, there really is a part of myself I don’t want to acknowledge that hurts others, such as when I’m impatient with a telemarketer on the phone. When I judge the obese person, there’s something I don’t love completely about my own body size and and shape.
I asked Sri to come into my meditation and help me understand how I could break from judgment, starting with understanding what was at the root of judgment.
“Shame,” Sri told me, “Is at the root of judgment. Little programs run in your subconscious mind that tell you you’re not perfect. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not rich enough. You’re not disciplined enough. These programs rattle on day after day. You learned them when you were very young and they moved from the conscious to unconscious. There they sit running and humming along until you take the time and do the work to release yourself from the programs.”
I wondered about how pervasive even the word “Shame” permeates our language. Phrases like, “You aught to be ashamed…”, “Shame on you…”, “Shameful. Simply shameful,” are all part of our lexicon. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to completely remove shame from my being. And once I could remove all aspects of shame, I would see everyone and everything as connected and One.
Logically, I understand that if I am angry at someone for no apparent reason, it is really I am angry with a part of myself that the other is reflecting for me. I get that. If I am annoyed with someone cutting me off in traffic, it really means there’s a part of me that is impatient in life. Ding! Ding! Guilty as charged.
I asked Sri how I could remove the shame programs.
He thought about that for a few minutes as he closed his eyes and he very end of his tail swished ever so slightly. Then he spoke, and said simply, “Love. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Love the person you see in front of you who is reflecting a part of yourself that you don’t like.”
The golden rule of “treat others how you’d like to be treated” is a simplified component to the Law of Reflection.
Law of Reflection
I asked Sri to tell me about the law of reflection, and how it relates to judgment.
We are all One. Everything you see is you, is a reflection of you. If you respond harshly, it is a part of yourself you don’t want to see. If you respond joyfully, it is like sweet nectar or mango juices. If you respond in a neutral position, it is integrated into your being. Everyone you encounter reflects back to you some aspect of yourself. If you see someone who has harmed many, and you respond in anger, then there is a part of yourself which you have not fully integrated which can harm another. With that same person, if you respond in love, seeing the hurt infant within them that cries out in pain, you are on the way to wholeness.
“Look at everyone and every situation with love. Everything, no matter what the situation is love or is lacking in love and needs your expression of love and is a call to love. Love is the resolution of judgment.”
“This is much easier in theory than in practice,” I thought to myself. “It is so difficult to drop those old habits and suddenly love everyone and everything.”
“Start with small things. Love the person who cuts you off in traffic. Perhaps they are on the way to the hospital to see someone gravely ill. Or they received bad news and are in a fog of distraction. You never know what is going on inside. What they may need most in that moment is compassion. Do this with other little things which may have annoyed you. Send love and compassion. Soon it will become habit like reaching for a glass of water when you are thirsty instead of reaching for a soda.”
I thought about how I used to drink soda. At least one, and sometimes two cans a day. But I had shifted away from soda about ten years ago. There was a time when it was habit to go to my favorite vending machine and drink a soda about mid-afternoon. But I changed that habit and went to drinking water. At first it was difficult because I felt plain water lacked the excitement and taste of soda. But slowly, I found I craved water the more I drank it. Now water is my beverage of choice. It has been over four years now since I’ve had a soda and have absolutely no cravings for it.
So this is my homework now—to look with compassion on the small annoyances in life and then move up to bigger and bigger things, seeing love in all.
The journey continues.