What is Love? Love is the absence of judgement
– Dalai Lama
Ironically, this post did not start out life on the topic of Non-Judgement. Infact it was pretty much the opposite, a very judgemental and opinionated rant about plant based diets (I apologise.)
It was only when I was looking back at the draft I had written a few days later that I thought, “Who am I to judge?”, and more to the point, “Why do we, as human beings judge others?”
You never see cows, sheep, pigs or chickens eyeing one another up, making assumptions about who they are and where they are from? Take your domestic companions as an example; the cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters and other creatures you share your lives with. They don’t ‘dismiss you’ because your’e not wearing the latest hip brand or because your’e spending Saturday night…….. ALONE….AGAIN……Hell!NO….those critters love you, no matter what you do!
(N.B – Except when you put Stitch ears on them….pugs don’t appreciate that….Mummy is still very sorry Frank!)
A friend was telling me a story the other day about going into a very ‘upmarket’ shop in Luxembourg. Where she is originally from in the North West of the U.S.A, people are rarely judged on the clothes they wear. What with Silicon valley and multi-billionares in shorts and flip-flops, it would be foolish to judge someone on such superficial criteria. However, here in Luxembourg, she was judged, even dare I say, dismissed, because she didn’t “LOOK” like she belonged in that shop…..Think of the moment in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts says, “You wouldn’t serve me yesterday, you work on commission, BIG mistake!” Then you have the picture.
I’m not blaming anyone in particular; it seems to be part of our culture and our ‘conditioning.’ Your parents, friends, family,rightly or wrongly, install in you their version of what is acceptable in society and what is not. You then take-away from that what you believe to be correct….but is it really correct?
Most of us would agree that some things are not socially acceptable, such as murder, rape, theft etc. These are ‘moral’ judgements between what is deemed right and wrong and are, in the most part, covered by most religions and faiths.
Where things become less black and white is the judgements WE as individuals have made through our own belief system.
From a Buddhist point of view, the ego is something made up by the mind. It’s the sense of self — a flash of “I” or “me” that we believe in and cling to. It’s the basis of our feeling of self-importance. It’s a story, a myth of self that we keep telling ourselves and we judge others in relation to this sense of ‘self.’
In order to practice liberated judgement we must practice “upekkha,” a Pali word that means “equanimity” or “nonattachment.” In all my years as a Buddhist, this is one of the practices I find most difficult and as an ‘Activist’ sometimes impossible. However, if we try to practise upekkha, in time we will see the benefit not only to ourselves but to those around us.
Zen Buddhist’s have an acronym to help with this, which I find particularly useful – ‘DUAL’
D is for Don’t pass judgment. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes alot of awareness , so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step, so just gently remind yourself to observe. Once you are more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental.
U is for Understand. Instead of judging someone for what she or he has done or how she/he looks, try instead to understand the actual person. As Atticus Finch said, “Put yourself in their shoes and walk around a while.” Try to imagine their background. If possible, talk to them. Find out their backstory. Everyone has one. If not, try to imagine the circumstances that might have led to the person acting or looking like they do.
A is for Accept. Once you have begun to understand, or at least think you understand, try to accept. Accept that person for who she/ he is, without trying to change her/him. Accept that she/he will act the way she/he does, without wanting her/him to change. The world is what it is, and as much as you try, you can only change a little bit of it. It will continue to be as it is long after you’re gone. Accept that, because otherwise, you’re in for a world of frustration.
L is for Love. Once you’ve accepted someone for who she/he is, try to love that person. Even if you don’t know them or if you’ve hated them in the past. Love that person as you would a brother, or sister, or how your non-human companions love you! No matter whom the person is, old or young, light skinned or dark, male or female, rich or poor, love them.
Love seems the hardest task to accomplish, but when you realise that there is no ‘Self’ and that we are all ‘One’, it is much easier to achieve. Non-judgement starts with yourself and then extends out to others.
When you surrender judgment, like your dog or your cat, you begin to see the good in everyone and this, as the Dalai Lama said, is the true meaning of love.
“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman