We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
In this quest to know what I am – the truth – sometimes takes me on an interesting path. Sometimes it leads me on a course that shows me what I’m not in order to get to know what I am. A kind of process of elimination.
In the Upanishads, this process is called neti neti, which means not this not that. It helps one to understand their true nature by negating everything that they’re not.
Judgment is something I want to do a radical inquiry on. Is judgment – to judge oneself, someone or something else – inherent in us from the day that we are born? Or is it something we acquired and learned in our childhood, and strengthened in adulthood? A nature vs. nurture question. Is judgment part of our egoic identity, our personality? If so, perhaps it points to what we’re not.
The ego is a thought system that believes it is separate from God, Oneness, the Universe. It is a belief system that creates a self construct, a personality such as – I am a woman, I am Canadian, I am Asian, etc. that I, Marina, identifies with. This identity of Marina is comprised of preferences – likes and dislikes, as well as beliefs and ideology that create the makeup of what I believe I am.
The ego thought system also includes positive and negative beliefs of who we are – I am generous, I am self-centered, I am lazy, I am healthy, etc.
We have judgments of the experiences in the world based on who we think we are. We measure an experience against the created identity of the ego and judges it as good or bad.
Either judgment, however, reinforces the self construct of the ego.
Here’s an example of judging an experience based on an ego construct.
Marina is a punctual person —-> Experience: she’s running late for a meeting —> judges this experience as bad, based on the self concept that Marina is punctual. Marina then feels annoyed.
On the contrary:
Experience: she’s on time for a meeting —> judges this experience as good, based on the self concept that Marina is punctual. Marina then feels happy.
The judgment exists to strengthen the ego, and it doesn’t care which way I lean, as long as I’m judging. For if I’m judging, the ego construct is upheld. The self construct and judgment serves as a distraction and keeps me in constant pursuit of superficial happiness.
What is the harm in believing that I am the personality?
On the surface it seems innocuous and this is where the ego wants to keep me at. But something is nudging me to dig deeper. When I do a radical inquiry into the purpose of a self construct that Marina is punctual, I start to see a hint of what is not the truth.
The ego construct of a punctual Marina was created in order to prop up a false belief about herself:
Marina wants to be punctual because if Marina’s late, then she’s not respecting people’s time.
Marina wants to respect people, because if she respects them, then they’ll respect her.
If they respect her, then they will like her and accept her.
In other words, if she’s on time = she receives love, if she’s late = she’s rejected.
I’m starting to recognize that the ego construct is there to seek love outside of me (being punctual = receive love), or it is used to seek punishment (being late = rejection). The entire world of time and space was created by the ego to validate itself.
This was on display one day when I was driving and I needed to get gas.
I saw a gas station where the price of gas was cheap, but I couldn’t get to it so I kept driving. Then I saw another gas station but the price was more expensive, and I got annoyed and thought I should go back to the first gas station I saw. But I needed to go somewhere in the opposite direction, so I kept driving.
I ended up going to a 3rd gas station but it had the highest price of gas, so I got even more perturbed. And it dawned on me that I was judging that paying more for gas was bad. And then I asked myself what is the self construct that I’m validating? It was a belief in lack.
This experience of getting gas is completely neutral, but through the lens of the ego, I judged it and made it personal. And I allowed my peace to be disturbed.
According to Eckhart Tolle, judging an experience is resisting the present moment. When I’m bored or have nothing to do, the impulse is to grab my phone, read a book, or do something to fill that void. Here I am judging an experience of having nothing to do as bad, so I immediately want to change that experience.
What am I resisting? What is in the present moment that I am opposed to? Why am I afraid of the unfiltered now?
What would happen if I just surrender to the present moment? What would happen if instead of grabbing my phone, I just focus on my breath and allow myself to experience what is?
Perhaps the resistance prevents us from knowing what we are. And judgment is one of the tools of the ego to maintain the veil to keep us blind from reality.
There is also the judgment of someone outside of us, whether it’s a partner, parent, child, friend, stranger on the street, or a political or celebrity figure. According to ACIM, the judgment of my brother is a projected thought that reflects an inner judgment of ourself.
Non-duality teaches that there is only one Mind or one Awareness. And the world that we experience, as well as the people who inhabit it are illusions. They are perceptions from a split mind that think we are separate from God.
If I think someone as bad, then that is what I really think of myself if there is only one Mind. Typically I would focus on forgiving or correcting the negative projections, but I’m recognizing that the positive is also a judgment.
I’m starting to understand that words like kind, gentle, talented, etc, although positive, limit the magnificence of what I am and what my brother is. While having an experience in the time space world, could one ever come up with words that describe the qualities of Christ consciousness?
Note: A beautiful self-inquiry that I use all the time is by Byron Katie’s The Work, which contains four questions that take you to the truth.
I start to question everything including the people in my life. Are my friends, my friends, to prop up the ego? Are they in my life because I judged them to be good? Are certain people not in my circle because I judged them to be bad? Either way though, there is something underneath each relationship to be learned. It’s always an opportunity to surrender and process a radical inquiry on.
Is there judgment that we can trust? Yes. I would describe it more as a knowing that comes from within. It’s a knowing that arises from a place of mindfulness. When we are in the “isness”, the what is, the present moment experience stripped of self construct, or any thought of the past, the future, or any fantasy or imagination, there is a knowing that can be accessed.
In ACIM, it teaches that true judgment is the domain of the Holy Spirit or Inner Guide. If there is an experience that we have judged or misperceived, we are to hand it over to the Holy Spirit and It will help us to see rightly. Through this process, we see clearly that we have perceived a neutral situation and gave it meaning based on the past or a false belief (past trauma, fears, guilt, ego construct, etc.).
Judging rightly or truly with our Inner Wisdom or Guide reveals the fears from which we are operating from. And we can see that correcting the error of perception removes the intensity of the trigger out there or rids it altogether. I’m discovering the beauty of this process is that I don’t have to change anything in the world, but through the release of how I interpret it, allows me to experience peace from within.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer
I’m recognizing the power this brings. It helps me to see my invulnerability. Instead of letting the world out there affect my peace, I can change my mind about how I see it. This can be a simple or challenging process depending on how deep our attachments are to our false beliefs and fears.
Some questions to ponder:
- Do you notice how you judge yourself, someone or an event in the world?
- How do you feel when you judge something as good or bad?
- What self construct are you validating in your judgments, decisions, choices?
- Think about someone you dislike. Why do you dislike them? What traits do they have that upset you? Are the judgments you have of this person true of how you think of yourself?
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of ACIM, mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.