Don’t Judge Me; You Could be Me, in Another Life, in Another Set of Circumstances. – Sting
In the first Zoom session in March, Swamiji mentioned that regardless of anything else, there is one person who will not judge us – Him of course – brightening the hearts of the many attendees. In our families, communities and societies, we are often judged for our views and actions. And in turn, we judge others. I had occasion to reflect on the topic of judgment. Here is my take.
My definition of judgment is to assume a higher pedestal and think lowly of someone for following a choice that one doesn’t approve of. This is not to say that we have to agree with everything that others do – we are most certainly entitled to disagree with the actions of others – but the freedom that we give others to exercise their choices and the respectfulness with which we disagree forms the difference between disagreement and judgment.
It also struck me that judgment and gossip go hand in glove with each other. If we remove the element of judgment from gossip, then gossip loses its fizz.
Yes, the person being judged feels bad, but non-intuitively judgment can almost never help the judger – this is a waste of time and energy, and has zero spiritual quotient, and invariably reduces spiritual progress.
Okay, let us say that step one is complete – we do not judge others. Does this mean that we pay no attention to the company we keep? If we choose certain company and insulate ourselves from others, does this amount to judging the people that we insulate ourselves from?
My answer is a resounding NO. It is said that we become the five people we spend the most time with. Therefore, we have to choose our company very carefully. While we don’t judge people for the choices they make, we must absolutely strive to associate with people who are positive, uplifting and virtuous. This requires an observation of people and their views/choices. Now comes a fine line between observing people to determine if they are positive company, and judging them for their less-than-desirable actions. It requires mindfulness to catch oneself from judging people while at the same time evaluating whether or not to associate with them.
Almost everyone has been judged. Being judged is a terrible feeling. Not letting this affect us adversely is a muscle that can be built like any other. And it is a worthwhile muscle to build. For, while it is natural to feel bad on being judged, it is not productive.
Now, all of this might be obvious to many, they were certainly not obvious to me. I have been guilty as charged on all three counts; I have spent a lot of time and energy judging people for their choices. I have either not paid attention to the company I keep, or if I decided not to associate with someone with less-than-desirable qualities, I felt like I was making a mistake. When judged for my choices, I have experienced extreme anguish. Therefore, these points that I have listed in this article were revelations for me. Intellectual grasp of these points was the first step for me – practicing them is a gradual process, why, a Sadhana even.
Image Credit: Keira Burton from Pexels
Thanks to my brother Raghu Rajkumar for introducing me to the Sting song “Tomorrow We’ll See” as well as for drawing my attention to the lyrics.