When you find yourself deciding that someone is unworthy – that they are lacking moral fiber, dedication, intelligence, or whatever – you have in your hands a great tool of self-discovery.
Of course, your judgment says nothing about the other person. But it speaks volumes about your attachment to the context the judgment arose in. And by discerning attachment, we discover how to be free.
If you feel critical about someone’s performance at work, you have emotional attachment to work – you’re full of desire for success in that endeavor. If you feel critical about your spouse, you’ve created similar pressure in your relationship. The same holds true for the rest of your family, your friends, your neighbors, and even the world at large.
Judgment is an indication that you have mentally assigned roles and responsibilities that you fabricated and conjured to other people, and that you are full of anxiety that they might not meet your expectations. How can any child of God be truly bound by your expectations?
That goes for you too. Your judgment of yourself also says nothing about you other than your attachment and the depth of the dream you have conjured.
When we are attached to the outcomes of our endeavors, we’re engaged in ego-based, lower-mind thinking. That small, transient, and flickering consciousness of your lower mind exists for only an instant in eternity. It’s the conjurer of the dream that separates you (the real you – your higher mind and spirit) from the gates of Heaven, which is enlightenment. There’s nothing to be gained in any of the tiny imagined games of life if they’re taken too seriously – the entire truth of your judgment is that it wouldn’t exist if you approached that part of your life with humor, detachment, and peace. And if you did approach it that way, there would be much to be gained there.
Judgment is a temperature gauge. Before it can exist, you have to set a pot boiling around yourself.
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
So turn off the stove. Let go of your angry desire to succeed and the condemnation of your brothers and sisters that arises out of it. Be it through meditation, prayer, or the simple sharing of hearts in conversation – let go of the attachment to outcomes. Chances are, you’ll succeed better without that distracting anxiety anyway. When we come out of a relaxed, happy mindset, the world responds in kind.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon…. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.
Gautama Buddha (source)
One of the loveliest ways of letting go of anxious dreams of the future is mindfulness, presence in the current moment. That’s more than merely focusing on what you’re doing now – it’s also letting go of your expectations and fears in favor of that experience. An affirmation from A Course In Miracles (Lesson 3 in the Workbook for Students) is a profound way of clearing that slate:
I do not understand anything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].
A Course In Miracles
When you deny your preconceptions, you’re allowing spirit to define the meaning and purposes of your experiences. You no longer perceive the interpreted world you have imagined and are open to the holy lessons.
Without that dream of interpretation, you’ll find yourself in the relaxed bliss of the present moment where intentionality and spirit are the core of the world. The weather is balmy and pleasant in that place, and no judgments or criticisms blind you to the light.