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­­­Why Judging Others Is a Spiritual Practice

photo: Daniela Vladimirova on flickr

photo: Daniela Vladimirova on flickr

If you’re a good little spiritual seeker, one of the first things you learn is you’re not supposed to judge others.

Judging others is baaaaaaaad.

Wait. Is that a judgment? Kinda sounds like one.

Let’s try this instead: Judging others is not an optimal way to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Or is it?

Another truism of the spiritual path is that there are no absolutes. Everything can be seen from many different angles, many different perspectives.

Including judgment.

Check it out:

If you believe that consciousness is creative – i.e. that your thoughts affect your reality – then I have a little experiment for you. Actually, even if you don’t believe that consciousness is creative, I have a little experiment for you.

For a period of a week, observe the people around you.

And by “observe” I do not mean you should check to see that their socks match their pants and their fingernails are spiffy and clean. (Though if you want to do so, go right ahead.)

photo: Calitar on flickr

photo: Calitar on flickr

When I say observe others, I have a particular focus in mind.

First, notice the way they talk about things. Do they look for the negative in the world around them, or the positive? Are they hopeful about life, or pessimistic? Are they closed to the world, or open to it?

Then notice the circumstances of their lives. Do they have friends? Are they happy in their vocation? Are they healthy?

Once you have accumulated a wide range of subjects, step back and notice the correlation between the attitude of your subjects and the quality of their lives.

What do you notice?

In my free-range, non-scientific observation of those around me, I have found that those who have an open, optimistic attitude toward life seem to draw to themselves circumstances and events that support their open, optimistic view.

photo: Koshy Koshy on flickr

photo: Koshy Koshy on flickr

But Z, you say. My best friend is ill. She’s the most optimistic person I know and she’s really sick.

I’m not saying that those with optimistic attitudes will not attract challenges. But they will approach those challenges like they do everything in their lives: with an open expectancy for good. Indeed, they often emerge from the challenges stronger than ever, with a deeper faith in the power of positive expectation.

On the other side of the coin, curmudgeons living in lavish circumstances are rarely able to enjoy those circumstances. Their quality of life is hampered by their attitudes.

photo: Daniela Vladimirova on flickr

photo: Daniela Vladimirova on flickr

It’s a lot harder to see the correlation between attitude and outcome in ourselves.

Shit  Stuff happens and we feel justified in complaining. We feel justified in focusing on the negative, thinking that by fixating on what’s not working, we can change it.

But all you have to do is look around you and see how this approach is “working” for others. Bringing a focus of discernment toward our neighbor – which some might call judgment – can be eye-opening.

So that’s Step One: Observe others to confirm the correlation between attitude and quality of life.

Then, if you really want to have fun, you move onto Step Two!

In this step, you notice which issues in others especially bother you. You notice where your judgment of your neighbor is particularly acute.

It really bugs you when others are not financially responsible.  You find it reprehensible when others aren’t good stewards of the environment.

And there, my friends, is your work.

I’m not saying you’re doing the exact same thing as they are. But somewhere, in your judgment of this other, is a pearl.

photo: cornelianesseth on flickr

photo: cornelianesseth on flickr

Maybe the fiscally irresponsible are aggravating your scarcity consciousness. Perhaps the environmentally hostile are triggering the part of you that isn’t as nurturing to yourself as you’d like to be.

Who knows what your judgment is telling you. Only you do.

Are we having fun yet?

photo: Leonardo Shinagawa on flickr

photo: Leonardo Shinagawa on flickr

In Step One, we notice a correlation between attitude and quality of life. In Step Two, we turn this back on ourselves and find areas of potential healing.

What’s next?

The final step both embraces judgment and moves beyond it.

In allowing our judgment of others to be fuel for spiritual practice, we enter a whole new arena of freedom.

In Step Three, we accept the fact that we judge. We judge others and we judge ourselves. The more we can allow this, paradoxically enough, the more loving we can be.

We can love ourselves in all our humanness, including our judgment. And we can love others for helping to shine a light on our own dark places.

In this final step, we relax into a place of acceptance of everything – our shit stuff, other’s shit stuff, the whole world’s shit stuff. We use this acceptance to bring compassion to ourselves and others.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

photo: saragoldsmith on flickr

photo: saragoldsmith on flickr

So what have we learned?

Step One: Judge

Step Two: Contemplate

Step Three: Love

In completing these three steps, we embrace the full spectrum of who we are – human and Divine.

And not to be judgmental or anything, but isn’t that the best way to live life?

photo: Dustin Moore on flickr

photo: Dustin Moore on flickr

How do you work with judgment? How has it helped you grow? Share your comments below!

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16 Responses to ­­­Why Judging Others Is a Spiritual Practice

  1. Wendy October 15, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Z,
    What a powerful message. The syncronicity of this article is, in my judgment of things, delicious! It is exactly what has been coming up for me to work on and change. Your graceful words allowed a different perspective, A fresh perspective on the “work” to be done on myself in the arena of judgment. Perhaps it really is just a gentle shift to “allow” that judgment to be there. To allow the emotion and feelings that come up around that judgment. And finally to allow the freedom that comes from simply accepting what is to be. Just as it is. Noticing that it is easier to breathe when I am not constricted with absolutes about people, places and things.

    Thank you Z. What a timely message.

    Keep being beautiful self. It looks really good on you.

    Smiles
    Wendy

    • Z Egloff October 15, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It’s really amazing, isn’t it? When we allow ourselves the freedom to simply accept what is. It’s powerful stuff.

      I’m grateful for the delicious synchronicity of this post for you. That is, in my judgment, awesome! :)

      XOZ

  2. Julie Schmidt October 15, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    WOW Z that was a great post! I loved all of this – especially the last step. That of love and acceptance. We (meaning me too!) have our dark – shadow sides and so often I would rather ignore this or pretend it does not exist. But when I embrace this shadow and ask it what I need to know right now – or what does it want – it is amazing what I can learn about myself. This is only possible with love and acceptance. Without agenda, without expectation – just accepting what is – in all the crazy ways in which it shows up. And here is the good part – when I accept myself, I find acceptance and love for all of life and it mirrors it back to me! Great practice. Thanks for the reminder and for the creative ways in which you expressed this allowing me to see this with a new perspective! Blessings to you Z!

    • Z Egloff October 15, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Hi Julie,

      Fun to see you here! :)

      Yes, I love what you say about the shadow and the importance of embracing this. I believe that this is SO important in doing any spiritual work. But, like you say, bringing in acceptance as well is a key piece. It’s all so rich, isn’t it? Especially when we can view it all with soft eyes. With love.

      Thank you for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  3. Angela October 15, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    One of my first spiritual teachers suggested that when I was hyper-judgemental that I look for what was being mirrored to me. I felt that way because there wad a major clearing opportunity that was my work and the person was allowing me that gift. It is still a tough exercise but has been really helpful for me.

    Great message. Thank you!

    • Z Egloff October 15, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      Hi Angela,

      I agree with you that it can be a tough exercise at times. Sometimes I just have to bask in the judgment for a little while before I’m willing to turn it around and look at what is getting triggered in me. And when I do turn it around – boy oh boy! The payoff is amazing.

      Thank you for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  4. Karen October 15, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    I don’t really think in terms of judgment or lack thereof. I simply think in terms of, “Does this thought I’m thinking or this subject I’m dwelling on feel good to me or not?” If it doesn’t, I reach for ways to soften it and find some relief. :)

    • Z Egloff October 15, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Hi Karen,

      Sounds like you have an approach that totally works for you. I have no judgment about that! 😉 Feeling good is feeling good, and that’s always . . . good!

      XOZ

  5. Barbara October 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    So well said Z. What I notice is that when I look in the mirror of judgment sometimes it is a little smoky and I have to look a little closer (contemplate) and when I finally take ownership I can then accept the pearl of freedom offered. Sometimes it takes longer to open to the pearl but oh so worth it.

    • Z Egloff October 16, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Barbara,

      Yes, so true. That mirror can be quite smoky at times. For me, that seems to be part of the process. Rushing it doesn’t work. But being patient and finding the pearl is so worth it, as you say! :)

      XOZ

  6. Erin October 15, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Thanks Z! Well said!

    • Z Egloff October 16, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Thank you, Erin! Glad you stopped by. :)

  7. sherry vierra October 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Loved this! Great teaching, delivered with enough humor to keep me reading. The insight of an angel with devilish wit! Good combo.
    With appreciation and love…Sherry

    • Z Egloff October 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Sherry,

      Ha! I like the angel/devil comment. Oh so true! I guess we all have a little of both in us, don’t we? Thanks for stopping by! :)

      XOZ

  8. Donna October 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Dearest Z, it is amazing to me that you bring up things I have known before and totally forgot. I learned that my making judgements about others, and situations,(I learned quite a while ago) is really about me. It’s mostly about what I fear is true in me, or know is true in me. I am seeing it in others, and forgetting to look within to see where it lives in me. Thank you for the reminder and giving me to opportunity to look within. Blessing to you and thank you!!!
    Donna

    • Z Egloff October 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you for your articulation of this process. I am appreciating how everyone speaks of this process in their own unique way, and each perspective helps me to understand judgment, and self growth, a little better. Thank you! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post! :)

      XOZ

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