I see people in awareness practice paralyzed by conditioned fears of having judgments, and I want to write a simple encouragement on the importance of discerning the difference between discriminating and being judgmental. After a few hours of researching definitions, I’ve decided to toss out all definitions and go for “gist.” Words just don’t seem to mean what they tend to mean to us!
For example: Judgment. According to the dictionary, judgment is the ability to make considered decisions and come to sensible conclusions. That seems useful, doesn’t it? Discriminate means to recognize a distinction, to differentiate. Yes, that’s very helpful. Discern, by the way, is to perceive or recognize something. Again, quite useful. Wouldn’t want to be without any of those.
But according to egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, all judgment and discrimination is wrong.
I want to communicate here that it’s important to be able to tell what is what. If the recipe calls for baking powder, you want to be able to discriminate baking powder from baking soda or sugar or flour or all sorts of other white substances one might come across in the kitchen. We need to be able to judge whether the recipe needs more sugar or more salt. We need to be able to discern which one is which.
My teacher used to point to this by saying, “If you want to get out of a room, it’s important to be able to discriminate which part of it is the door.”
As we know, ego/conditioning will use anything to fulfill its purpose of getting attention and causing suffering. If we can be convinced that we must not notice anything for fear of being judgmental, ego has us in an excellent position.
Someone does a slipshod job. Mustn’t say anything; that would be judgmental. Someone fails to do something they’re tasked with doing. Mustn’t notice that; that would be judgmental. You notice that someone is not following the guidelines at a retreat, doesn’t wash their hands before eating, blows their nose and drops the used tissue on the dining table…. Conditioned mind is going crazy with, “I can’t believe it,” “How could he?” “What’s the matter with her?” But you can’t say anything because that would be judgmental.
And here’s the kicker: Even though you can’t say anything because that would be judgmental, you get a beating for having had judgmental thoughts! True?
It would seem that the difficulty is not with judgment, discernment, or discrimination but with another word with which we’re all familiar—wrong.
Where are we to go with this? How about back to my teacher’s very simple approach? If you want to get out of a room, it’s really important that you can discriminate/discern/judge the difference between walls and doors. There’s nothing wrong with the wall that it’s not a door!
Can we allow the Intelligence animating all to inform us what needs our attention without ego dragging us into a conversation about wrongness and being judgmental?
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to be receptive to Life’s guidance and act without fear of retribution from the voices in your head, while finding the balance between paralysis and interference.