How often these days do we hear someone say, “Don’t judge me!” In my experience, what that usually means is, “I deem you unworthy to hold me accountable for my actions!” As a verb, “judge” means “form an opinion or conclusion about.” Forming an opinion is what we should do to exercise sound judgment – it’s in coming to a “conclusion” that our challenge lies.

I spent more than a decade of my life with accountability partners and participating in accountability groups. I’ve cultivated a habit of confession and the process of allowing more mature Souls to judge my actions so that I can progress in my spiritual journey. When I hear someone say, “Don’t judge me,” I automatically know they are mired deep in the spiritual quicksand of duality. The Master-student relationship is always one of correction and adjustment.

If you see a drunk lying in the gutter, will you pass your car’s keys to him? Would you choose to store a gun in a child’s room? Ever considered leaving a baby unattended next to a swimming pool? Does eating razor blades sound healthy? Of course not! The Divine gave you a brain to discern between actions that are beneficial or non-beneficial, positive or negative. This is our “free will,” the choice to pick our path and live with the consequences thereof.

Would you take marriage advice from a person in the middle of a divorce? Financial planning from someone in bankruptcy? Home security advice from your neighbors who just got robbed? I trust you would instead search for the best expert you can afford in each area. Something like a “certified marriage counselor,” “licensed financial planner,” or a “former law enforcement officer who now does private security.” You wouldn’t Google a “divorcee,” or a “business failure,” or your “foolish neighbors.”

Consider for a moment how most people will describe someone who has hurt them – liar, cheat, thief, gossip, addict, etc., or some other holistic description (conclusion, label) like “horrible person,” “worthless,” “pathetic,” “son of a bitch,” or worse. These are condemnations, and this is what the scriptures speak of when they say, “judge not or be judged,” better spoken as “condemn not or be condemned.”

Ram Dass often told the story about how many times we reincarnate before reaching liberation (moksha). “Imagine a mountain three miles wide, three miles high, and three miles long. Once every hundred years, a bird flies over the mountain, holding a silk scarf in its beak, which brushes across its surface. The time it would take for the scarf to wear down the mountain completely is how long we’ve been doing this.”

Millions of times. Hundreds of millions of times? So many times that the human mind cannot grasp the concept. It’s like talking about “a trillion” of something or the relative size of our Universe – when humans try to picture it, the mind goes blank. It’s just too big.

On how many occasions have I lied, cheated, or stolen throughout my lifetimes? Countless times! How often have I exercised anger, jealousy, violence, or other forms of fear? Innumerable! When analyzing pain that comes my way, I must remember that ALL the situations I face this lifetime are solely my previous actions (karma). I must choose not to erroneously blame the vehicle who delivers my comeuppance! Pain caused to me by another should always trigger compassion – “forgive them Maharaj-ji, for they are clueless about what they are doing!”

If I call someone a cheat or liar, how incredibly grand are my hypocrisy and delusion! However, if someone steals from me or lies to me, I can say “you’ve lied” or “you’ve stolen” and make adjustments to ensure that it doesn’t happen again while at the same time not condemning the person as a “liar” or “thief.” I must leave room for everyone to change. If I add negative emotion to my “you’ve lied” or “you’ve stolen,” I’m just as trapped (attached) as if I had condemned that person.

When we see someone behaving negatively or in a non-beneficial manner, we need to use good judgment to avoid getting caught in their drama. We create negative karma (debts) when we condemn the person as unredeemable, a hopeless case unworthy of our compassion and agape, or when we accuse with malice. We extinguish non-beneficial karma when we realize what’s happening to us is our own doing and accept it. That doesn’t mean we have to let it happen again.

The issue Souls always struggle with is separating the action from the actor. That’s what we all are – performers in a play, Maya, the grand illusion, Shiva’s lila. The reality is that we will do the drama together again and again for thousands of births to come. If we only see humans, then we demand justice – if we see Souls, we recognize truth.

We must separate the “sin” (missed mark) from the “sinner” (mistake maker, learner), who is essentially us at heart. All of us have missed the target of perfection and fallen short of deserving God’s grace. If you don’t wish to be judged, be a hermit and stop interacting with other people. If you don’t want to be condemned, stop putting stickers on people.

I have faith that there’s an essence within John that has lived through millions of incarnations. Today, what I observe in him is my soul’s best condition ever. Presently, you are your best self as well! We are the actualization of our samskaras – all the tendencies we’ve cultivated in previous lifetimes. Jesus would say, “You are the sum of all the treasures you’ve ever stored in heaven (your Soul).” How beautiful!

When I see Souls in the same karmic predicament as myself, what other proper reaction could there be other than to render aid? Practice non-emotionally using good judgment so you can know the truth. Don’t sticker, don’t label, don’t convict. When we slam the book on a Soul in condemnation, we’re destined to walk in their shoes until we fully understand their pain.

Blessings,

Ram Ram,

JC

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