Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 26, 2012

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Not Judging Others: Acceptance

(Learning to Be: Part 2)

Once we begin letting go of judging ourselves, we have a chance to begin letting go of judging others. But is that even possible? We seem hardwired by evolution to judge and assess other people. Is this person a threat, a potential competitor, friend, or ally? A potential mate? We may be compelled by our genes and by the exigencies of life to make such necessary evaluations of the people we encounter.

But we go well beyond necessity in how we look at other people. One way is by measuring them against our personal obsessions of the moment. If we are overly concerned about our weight, we see whether they are fatter or thinner than us. If we are overly concerned by money, we see whether they are richer or poorer. If about popularity, status, looks, or smarts, we see where they rank relative to us. And so on. Our perceptions follow our obsessions.

Even these comparisons are not particularly problematic for our spiritual work, but the next step is. That is where we descend into feelings of envy and jealousy, superiority or inferiority, attraction or repulsion. This pushes us deeper into our illusory ego, and further away from other people.

By judging, we mean something different than assessing or evaluating, something different than a clear-eyed perception of other people, their qualities and deficiencies. In the sense used here, judging means assigning a negative or zero value to particular people, inwardly criticizing and finding fault, consigning them to unimportance, and depersonalizing them.

This seems so ordinary, so commonplace, simply the way we all live. What does it have to do with our being? First, can you imagine a person with real being taking such an attitude toward others? More on that in a moment.

Second, all this judging focuses us on externals and takes us out of ourselves. We focus on what others do or have or what they look like. But what they are escapes us. What we are escapes us. With spiritual practice, with the work of presence, we balance the noticing of externals with remaining at home in our selves, in our being. We rest in the place of seeing and are not taken by what we see.

This whole business of judging others opens an opportunity to notice when and how we do it, or rather when and how it happens in us. We notice how we identify with comparing ourselves with others, how we feel better if we can find fault in someone, especially someone who otherwise surpasses us on some dimension. Yet every instance of judging others diminishes us, weakens our being. It costs us energy. It costs our conscience. It strengthens our ego, our disconnection. It costs our presence. It makes us small.

And it is a lie, a lie that we believe. We cannot see into the depths of other people, the unfathomable value there. If we could, that would be because our being had been purified to the level of love.

But we can practice toward that, just as we are. The practice is to accept other people just as they are. We do not need to judge them. Yes, we might need to assess and discriminate in our dealings with them. Yet even if we must refuse someone in some external way, we can still inwardly accept that person as a person, just as we are persons. We can see them as a person like us, a person with awareness, hopes, and dreams.

One mark of coming into more being is coming into the peace of consciousness, where we can just be. When we can just be, we can let others just be. And then it becomes more obvious that their being and our being are not so different, so separate. The boundaries grow porous. We are here together, just being, just doing what we do. We share this one infinite field of consciousness. In it we live and move and we have our being; they do and we do.

We could just relax and be here with others. We donít need to inwardly harass every passing stranger with our criticism and dismissal. They are and we are. This is enough.

For this week, notice how you judge other people and begin to let it go. That does not mean trying to stop our ingrained habits of thought and perception, which would be fruitless anyhow. It does mean seeing how we criticize and devalue others and not buying into that devaluation, not believing it.


     

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