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Friday, August 21, 2015

Practicing Non-Judgment


Imagine someone close to you has hurt you in ways that will be very difficult to mend. Or imagine one of those things we all hope will never happen to us, has happened to you: losing your job, losing your house, being diagnosed with cancer, losing a child in a custody battle, discovering that your child was molested by someone close to you, living through a natural disaster, etc. etc.

At first glance most of us would say that those are terrible things to happen; that surely if something like that happens to someone, it would be a simple matter to justify their anger, their pain, their railing at the injustice of life.

But what if we looked at it another way? What if we could see, perhaps just around the next corner, or even many years into the future, how this particular - seemingly terrible event - had created change in this person, such that they are now living - on some level - a much better life, or that they have come to much greater inner peace thanks to these events, or a much greater acceptance of the self (which is tantamount to inner peace as well). What if these events brought them - over time - to inner joy? It's not ludicrous to think like this if you have been there and seen or felt it happen for yourself.

There is a wonderful Zen tale of which many versions can be found on the web (this one here), that epitomizes the ideas I've just expressed.

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbours exclaimed. 

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

Practicing non-judgment means that you are able to view with dispassion that which occurs in your life. You don't feel the need to label it as 'bad', or 'painful', or 'cruel', or any other descriptive you care to use. Instead, you are able to "allow" it to be, without it having to conform to whatever you believe about it, or, as Chris Griscom said in her book Ecstasy is a New Frequency: "where there is no resistance, there is no pain". Practicing non-judgment signifies not resisting that which is. Eckhart Tolle says in his first book The Power of Now: "Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it". Finally, Krishnamurti said that the secret to his happiness was not minding what happens.

As you can imagine, I'm not suggesting that practicing non-judgment is easy. Nor am I suggesting that this will work for you the first time you try it. But as you keep these thoughts in mind, and as you continue to apply it to your life - perhaps at first to the little things - you will find that it becomes possible.

Image: Horse. Costa Rica by Jacob van der Veen

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