A song often played this time of year in the U.S. commemorates that poor reindeer with the red nose that caused him to be greatly abused by the other reindeer at Santa Claus' North Pole home. They called him names and excluded him from whatever they did when they weren't pulling a sleigh.
Imagine poor Rudolph. While the other raindeer playfully raced around the pasture or licked each other, he stood alone, not only uncomforted by the warmth of other bodies, but tormented by his own kind. At one time or another, most of us have identified with him.
We often feel, especially as children, that something sets us apart from others. It may be a physical attribute; it may be thoughts or ideas we're certain no one would understand. We may feel persecuted for a desire to be alone that's interpreted as anti-social behavior, or for a psychic gift we feel we must hide.
While we humans can be bold, adventurous, and fearless about exploring the unknown, we can also be cautious and and reluctant to ask a question for which there is no immediate answer. We can be afraid of anything that threatens our picture of how things should be. In a world where everyone's nose should be identical, chaos might be unleashed by the one nose that's different.
Except for those rare ascended beings who've returned to help out the rest of us, there are few judgment-free people. This is no less true when we're humans who've decided to consciously work at becoming more spiritual. When we decide to free ourselves of negative thinking and reactions the universe obligingly provides us with many opportunities to practice our intentions in the form of undesirable events and people.
We forget that it would be valuable to experience them. What could we possibly have to learn from a bounced check, a computer failure, or the person who promised faithfully to repair the roof and then disappeared into the void? If we form a strong dislike for a particular human lesson, we may resent the individual who provided it for making us feel unspiritual about him/her.
Judgment can turn our spiritual journeys into a guided tour of the House of Horrors, especially when we aspire to spiritual development and are so dismayed by our failure to be loving or even tolerant that we double our load by judging ourselves for judging others. We may heap on yet another burden by judging ourselves for judging ourselves.
It may seem that the best way out of this vicious cycle is to resolutely abandon judgment, but that's another form of resistance. Imagine saying to yourself, "I will not judge this reindeer with the red nose. I will pretend that his nose is just like that of every other reindeer." This is a little like not thinking about elephants skiing in pink pajamas.
It's more practical (and more kind to oneself) to accept that we judge, to, when we feel the dreaded urge coming on, say to ourselves, "Well, here I go judging again." Watch yourself getting all worked up over someone's prehistoric attitudes or general stupidity. Notice that your own reaction is just as antiquated, and laugh about it.
Then ask yourself if there might not be some particular reason for this individual to have strayed onto your path (besides to test your judgment reflex). Experience the possibility that a soul exists within that mass of ignorance, that this person, like you, worries and loves, hopes and fears.
It has been said that all judgment is self-judgment. Another version of this statement is "I only meet myself." Consider the idea that a human characteristic only bothers us if it's something that we don't like about ourselves--whether or not we openly acknowledge that trait in ourselves.
I used to get really annoyed with people who talked too much. I didn't do that, absolutely not; I was a good listener. One day, while getting bored with the latest windbag in my life I realized that I felt she was taking my time. I had things to say that were far more interesting than anything she was saying, but I wouldn't want to risk that people would be thinking about me what I was thinking about her.
To be afraid of something different about someone else is ultimately to be afraid of our own differences. To mistrust that which makes us unique is possibly the greatest obstacle to following or even finding our particular path in life (mine now includes more talking), and ending that spirit of mistrust makes it more enjoyable to follow our individual paths and to have the experiences most useful to our souls' journeys.
Though his story is sparse in detail, there's no evidence that he went off to weep on the frozen tundra or compensated for his humiliating experiences by deciding that he was in fact superior to those other jerky reindeer. I find no testimony that he made fun of their special traits so that they could experience what it was like to be tormented.
I have a sense that this reindeer was a highly evolved being. I believe that he waited patiently, knowing that one day his shiny nose would not only be appreciated but needed.
I do know that his patience was rewarded. One stormy Christmas when visibility was poor, Santa Claus asked him if he would guide the sleigh. After that Rudolph's former tormenters wanted his hoofprint and became his most devoted admirers.
It could happen to any of us.
Silvery, shiny hematite was in ancient times used to make mirrors because of its reflective qualities. This property is both physical and metaphysical, for by working with this stone we can remind ourselves that our opinions are reflections of our opinions of ourselves.
If all judgment is self-judgment (I have so often wished that this weren't true) then the place to end the cycle is with ourselves. Rose quartz nurtures our ability to love ourselves unconditionally. When we can do that we can love (or at least tolerate) just about anyone else.
When we work with clear quartz, often called the "mirror of the soul," we grow closer to understanding and feeling our unique purpose in being. Thus it can help to remind us that what we experience in life is intended to help us grow. (Even when the pipes freeze.)
Bach Flower Remedies
Beech is the the Bach Flower Remedy most directly connected to judgment. When we're judgmental we separate ourselves from others and cut ourselves off from our deepest need to love and be loved. This flower remedy helps us to understand that we are all part of a One, and that each individual expression of Oneness is essential.
Larch can be well described as one of the floral counterparts to Rose Quartz (Holly, our profiled remedy for this month, is the other). The negative Larch condition of not considering oneself as good or capable as others, of expecting failure and thus taking few risks is very often what lies beneath an attitude of judgment, and needs to be dissolved for judgment to disappear.
In the negative Vine condition, we don't find secret or surreptitious judgments, but someone who has no qualms about saying, "My way is best. Do it this way." The ease with which we may dismiss the Vine personality by assigning it to the dictator category indicates how easily it may flourish, unsuspected, in the rest of us. Consider it when you're sure you're right, when you find yourself angry that other people don't see that you're right, when you find yourself telling others what to do without listening to their opinions. It can happen to the best of us, and when the strong arm tendencies of Vine are corrected, the natural leadership capacity emerges, and Vine may be known as first among equals.