Many people begin a spiritual practice with a sense of enthusiasm and vibrancy. It can be very inspiring and uplifting to begin to have insights and 'awaken'. And yet the flip side of this can be that we start to judge others. We start to judge others who are not doing the same practices as us. And we judge others who are doing the things that we used to do, “If only they knew!”
Or it can be that you have been on a spiritual journey for a while and yet judgements have started to creep into your life.
So in this article we will be looking at spiritual development and how judgements can arise in our practice. I am also going to be sharing 3 ways of starting to release these judgements and start to become more open to others on different journeys.
Beginning of Spiritual Development
Spiritual development in the beginning can be a wonderful time. The Buddha often talked in his discourses about how people either have a lot of dust in their eyes or a little. His analogy spoke of those that had a lot of dust – the people who are very stuck in their ways and are not interested in change. And then he spoke of those that had a little dust – the people who saw that they had baggage but they were interested in change or saw that they could change and were willing to do the work needed.
In the beginning when the dust starts to be taken out of your eyes and you start to see clearly – life, your patterns, the joy that life has to bring, the stillness and beauty of the internal world, then it feels wonderful.
And in that wonderful space, in that enthusiasm you could well believe that everyone needs to be doing what you are doing. You want to tell the world. You want to let them know that they need to know this and be doing this – yes, they really do!
But as you have found out if you have already tried to do this – most people are not interested. Remember there are those who have a little dust and those who have a lot of dust. There are those who can hear you and there are those who cannot.
So in this space of inspiration but also disbelief that others aren't doing what you are doing, then judgements can arise. “Well, they drink alcohol – don't they know how that affects them...” “They use vulgar language – that's not spiritual!” “They eat meat, well do they not understand that eating meat is bad for you...” And so it can become a habit to judge people in our minds.
Judging Those That Are Closest To You
Often times it can be those that are closest to us that receive our judgements the hardest. Here we are 'waking up' but those that are closest to us, like our families, our children, or our partners seem to be fast asleep.
And again in this space of disbelief that they are doing the things that they are doing, judgements can arise. Due to the fact that those closest to us are exactly that - close, these judgements are often verbalized. “Don't you know, what that's doing to you!” “You just sit and watch TV – you need to be meditating!” “You're always on Facebook – you need to get out and exercise!”
While we feel justified in our judgements, those that are receiving our judgements or watching us make these judgements don't like it at all. In fact, rather than being inspired by your spiritual practice your loved ones and those closest to you, can look at you and think to themselves, “If that is what being spiritual is like then I am not interested at all!” And they become more adamant that they are not going to change – and so our judgements can increase!
To the onlooker we can come across as judgemental or arrogant – as if we know better than everyone else. But do we really know better than the next person?
What Do We Really Know About Spiritual Development?
In the beginning of a spiritual practice it can seem like we have received the keys to the kingdom. It can seem like we know everything. But how much do we really know and how much do we really understand?
In the beginning it can feel that we know everything. And comparing to what we used to know with what we know now this is true. But compared with all the knowledge in the world we know very little. But in the beginning of a spiritual practice this is not so obvious to us. And so we judge others who are not doing 'spiritual things'.
A key in spiritual practice is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge can be gained quite easily and quickly. In the beginning of a practice we gain a lot of knowledge.
But wisdom takes time. Wisdom takes experience. Wisdom comes from years of making mistakes and being able to step back and admit – maybe I don't know it all...
So our practice is to become aware that maybe, just maybe we don't know it all. And maybe we have not had the discernment yet which of the teachings we have received will benefit others. If we judge others that they need to change, maybe we don't know that either...
Being Judgemental Affects Us
Being judgemental of others not only affects what others can think of us but also affects our practice. So you have got really inspired and enthusiastic about your practice. But the judgements you might have start to weigh you down. The momentum of your spiritual practice starts to falter.
Rather than being uplifted and inspired your practice can become heavy and intense. Others might look at you and not feel inspired by your example. You seem tense and in your mind you are often criticizing others and yourself.
This can be seen in those who have been on a spiritual journey for a long time as well. Those that become teachers can start to become judgemental of their students or those not on the spiritual path – to somehow see that they are better than others.
I have often heard it said that a teacher wants their student to become better than them. They want them to thrive so much that they excel the level they are at. But how many teachers are truly like that? How many teachers want their students to do well but not better than themselves?
So if this is you, the below practices will also help you to start to release your judgements and start to help you remember the happiness and joy that teaching others to thrive really brings.
3 Practices For Releasing Judgments
Where Can I See Myself In That Other Person?
So when you start to notice your judgements arising ask yourself the question, “Where can I see myself in that other person? Where can I see myself in that other person's actions?”
So I will give an example from my own life. Sometimes I can have the judgement that others are lazy. I look at their external actions and I can judge that they are lazy. And yet I have learned over the years to do the above practice. I ask myself, “Where am I lazy?”
To start off with I can look and say, “Well, I'm not like them. I'm not physically lazy.” But as I investigate I can see that actually, I can be lazy mentally. I can judge others and rather than find the good in them I can get lost in judgements and be lazy mentally.
So when you see this you can see the gift in what the other person is offering you. A door opens. A light turns on. The person you have been judging has been offering you a gift. They have offered you some insights into your own behaviours that you have not be conscious of.
And rather than give your energy to judging others, you can turn the light of attention onto your own behaviours and start to change.
This Being That You Are Judging Is A Spiritual Being
When you get lost in your judgements the person in front of you can be a source of annoyance. But what if you were to see this being as a spiritual being. Rather than seeing them as broken or needing fixing, what about seeing them as perfect?
Pierre de Chardin is quoted as saying, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience.” Having this reflection opens the heart and sees beyond the action being perpetrated and leads you into love, compassion and wonder.
Sure the action hasn't changed but no longer are you judging.
You can say, “In front of me is a spiritual being. They are as much connected to source as I am. I send them love, joy and peace and wish that they be well.”
Ho'oponopono is a Hawaiian technique for healing. It is very useful for combatting judgements.
The practice is very simple.
1. You notice someone with whom you feel annoyed and you have judgements towards.
2. You start to see them as spiritual beings as in part 2.
3. You start to say the words in your mind's eye, “I love you, thank you, please forgive me, I'm sorry.”
4. You keep repeating these words until you feel the charge or annoyance or judgement start to soften.
Ho'oponopono is a very simple yet powerful practice. And you can do the practice with the person with whom you are judging in front of you or later on when you are on your own.
In my own personal experience I find that my heart starts to melt when I do this practice and so the do the judgements too.
Developing a spiritual practice does take time and patience. A spiritual journey of releasing judgements takes practice. See earth as your school and that you are constantly learning and growing. Releasing judgements brings great peace and love.