One spiritual truth in which I deeply believe is that ultimately we are all part of the One. I also believe that it is possible to view all life forms, appreciate that each has its distinctive characteristics and at the same time experience the common element of soul which unites them.
I say it is possible; I don't say it is probable, and I don't say for a moment that I have achieved that enlightened state. Judgment is the largest of the many boulders which roll onto and block my path.
In the past I used to decide whether I was going to like people or not within seconds of meeting them. Did this mean that I had some great psychic gift? Maybe a small one, but mostly it meant that my judgments were so well-organized that I responded automatically.
When I first became committed to spiritual growth I knew that judgment had to go, but my realization that judgment was wrong only served to make me feel guilty whenever I noticed the automatic program start to play. That I noticed was an improvement; that I was now consciously devoting more energy to judging myself was not.
So I decided to take a closer look at judgment.
In my flower garden it does not seem that the different flowers have opinions about their differences, that one thinks another is too yellow or too red, too flamboyant or too dull. I don't think that the cultivated plants look down on the weeds. Although some species of animals may cast out or kill one whose difference (weakness, injury, or deformity) directly threatens the survival of the rest, others, notably elephants and Canada geese, will take all possible measures to protect weak or injured members of the herd or flock.
As humans, while we retain the animals' alertness to the possible danger of difference, we have vastly expanded the notion of what constitutes a threat to our survival. It seems that no difference is too small to trigger off the need to protect oneself from alien beings or groups of beings.
Since judgment is such a big part of how we as humans relate to each other, it is no wonder that we often worry that others don't like how we look, what we are wearing, how we speak. Fear of judgment can inhibit us from sharing our creativity and our beliefs. We may particularly fear being in a minority, including those of us who have chosen to be different in our viewpoints, lifestyles, and healing and spiritual practices.
Those of you who walk this road know how much pressure there is to conform, to blend into the majority, and how it feels when someone (and often someone you love), says, "Do you mean to tell me that rocks have energy?" or "Someone did some mumbo-jumbo over you and you're channeling healing energy?"
When we're confronted by somone's scorn and/or condescension we may feel some slight damage to our self-esteem. Often we use counter judgment to protect ourselves from the threat of another's opinion. We might say or think things such as, "You take 95 pills a day, your health is lousy, and you haven't spoken to your sister in ten years -- and you think I'm making mistakes with my life?"
We may feel that the judgment of others injures our feelings of self-esteem. I feel, though, that this can only happen if our self-esteem is already in need of some repair. In other words, we can only be wounded where we are vulnerable.
If you feel completely comfortable in and rewarded by your commitment to the wellbeing of animals it won't bother you if someone says you like animals better than people. However if you often think that you really don't like people that much, and that there might be something wrong with you for feeling that way this comment may hurt -- because the remark is a dagger stuck into a wound you've already inflicted on yourself.
Judging others also comes from our own self-judgment. As we may judge others before they judge us we may also judge others instead of judging ourselves.
Some of you may be familiar with the phrase, "Let him who is without stone cast the first stone." This is not only a good rule, but a strong affirmation that behavior which we judge in others is the thought and/or deed which we secretly (and sometimes unknowingly) judge in ourselves.
This isn't always obvious. If you are a worrier you may judge others of the same persuasion because they remind you of an aspect of yourself that you don't like. Sometimes, though, we judge a behavior which we resist in ourselves. I used to judge people who demanded attention, and I was sure I wasn't that way. Self-examination revealed that I had a suppressed desire to be just as obvious and demanding as the people I judged.
It's much more comfortable to go on automatic judgment than to discover such things about oneself. If, however, you intend to kick the judgment habit such discoveries are part of withdrawal, and how effectively you manage not to judge yourself is central to the process of releasing judgment in general.
So a first step to releasing the hold of judgment is to simply notice who/what you judge, and, when possible, write it down. (This is not possible when driving a car, which is an occasion for many of my judgments.) By doing this, you will train yourself to become even more aware of your judgments, and in time, you can take the opportunity to look for a pattern.
Incidents of self-judgment belong on your list, and the process will give you many opportunities to collect them. It will help if you consider yourself to be a detective looking for clues. Instead of judging your judgments be interested in them. Be curious about what you may discover. Tell yourself that your discoveries will help you to be much more open to love in your life.
Once you feel that you have enough data see what patterns you can find, then what they mean. If, for example, you frequently judge people with loud voices, ask yourself if you were ever threatened by this. When you were a child, did it mean an argument? Do you fear that loud people are more powerful than you? Do you have a great desire to shout? Do you feel that you could be more effective if you had a more powerful speaking voice? Or is not volume which concerns you, but your ability to communicate effectively?
With the last possibility you may have come to an answer. You may choose to research ways of improving your communications skills. You may ask a friend to coach you. You may study how people whom you consider effective communicators succeed.
And once you've dissected what loud means to you you will be far less likely to judge it.
If you find yourself slipping into the old patterns just notice them. Say to yourself, "Here I am doing judgment." Let it go.
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, I am in the early stages of moving this boulder from the path. Initially it felt like an effort, but, as with any exercise, I am becoming increasingly adept at it. I am learning to regard people with tolerance, compassion, and love.
The boulder is getting lighter. So am I.
Sugilite, a crystal which is generally used to release hatred and resentment, is considered to be one of the stones for the new millennium. It can be a major mental house cleaner, which helps us to see the beliefs which separate us from unconditional love.
Charoite, another very powerful stone, is traditionally related to the dissolving of known and unknown fears. In this regard it can be very helpful in helping us to identify and release the fear we may have of others' differences.
Green calcite helps to break down mental and emotional rigidities, and thus can be very beneficial in breaking down the rigid attitudes of intolerance and prejudice.
Pink calcite combines the properties of rose quartz and pink tourmaline, simultaneously helping us to experience unconditional love for ourselves and for others.
Speaking of rose quartz, this is always a good stone for helping us to release any mental/emotional blockage.
It's also valuable to contemplate a quartz cluster to see how the diversity of its points contributes to its overall beauty.
Beech (Bach) is probably the most important flower essence for intolerance. It teaches us the true nature of tolerance: that it begins with us.
Rock Water (Bach), because it is helpful for any area of life where one's beliefs make adaptation to change and thus growth difficult, can help to release intolerance and fixed beliefs about people.
Mimulus (Bach) is generally recommended for known fears, and thus can be helpful if you know that you have habitually negative reactions to certain people.
Deer (Wild Earth Animal Essences) teaches us the lessons of gentleness and love. It also can help us in the area of
intolerance by reminding us to stay on our path.