How many times in a day have you noticed yourself thinking or saying one of these 4 things?
I don’t mean to say that it’s good, bad, right, or wrong to think or say one of the above(ha, I said it). It’s the habitual, unconscious inclination to be drawn to thinking or saying one of these things with great fervor, that is more important to be aware. Just to be simply aware. Without judgment.
So just to be clear, that one thing that almost all of us gravitate to doing that could be holding us back from being happier is … judgment.
You’ve probably heard this story that was, as I understand, also mentioned in Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth book. Here’s how it goes, in brief.
There was a famous Zen master known as Hakuin, in a town where he was highly respected by the entire village. One day, the parents of a beautiful young lady who got pregnant, got infuriated and marched forth to see him. The young lady had told them that this Zen monk had fathered the child. The parents were so angry that they brought the baby to him, insisting that he care for and raise the child.
To this, Hakuin simply said with calmness, “Is that so?” And took in the baby, attending to the baby’s every need, even when the village lost faith in the Zen master.
After some months, the daughter finally confessed to her parents, that the father of the child was not Hakuin but a young man she had not mentioned about. The parents went back to Hakuin in remorse and explained what had happened.
To this, Hakuin said, “Is that so?” And returned the child back to them, in calm.
If we think back, I’m sure you too, can think back to an incident when you initially thought was disastrous, but that eventually turned out to be non-destructive or even useful after all.
That said, I think judgment, in terms of discretion, is necessary for us to exercise, to live empowered lives. Again, just to be clear, the kind of judgment that I’m talking about that would give us more freedom and internal peace in our daily lives, is the one that is NOT incessantly chattering in the head.
So how do we get from the mind-chattering judgment and head in the direction of wise discretion?
The key tool that can help us clear the fog and shift the way we perceive “reality,” is the practice of awareness. Awareness of whatever you’re thinking and feeling.
Now here comes a tricky part – if ever you find yourself aware that you’re judging something or someone as being good, bad, right or wrong, just leave it as that – an observation. At first, it might be tempting to add another layer of judgment to that, and say, “Damn, I judged my judgment.” If so, just give intent to let it be so. In time, the power of awareness will decrease the stronghold that the incessant chattering judgment thoughts, will have on you. They will fade into the background as simply thoughts with no energy to pull you get you in a mode of reacting from fear.
Eventually you will come to know not only intellectually, but in your being, that YOU are not your thoughts. Knowing this, you will then feel free – unencumbered by judgment be it yours or others – to do what you love, and let your gifts shine on as an expression of who you really are.