This weeks blog is on JUDGMENT PART 2
One of my New Year's resolutions will be to try and follow some of the thoughts below.
Hence this weeks blog will also be a bit longer than usual.
Modern medical research has shown that people who are critical and easily angered are more prone to certain diseases. Compassion enhances our immune systems, cynicism harms it. The Mother Theresa archetype is not just good karma but healthful as well. Therefore, if for no other reason than our own sakes, we need to try and suspend our tendency to find fault. Judgment also takes us out of the present moment. If one is judging whether this is the best sunset one has ever seen, there is little energy left for being with the sunset. This space becomes occupied with the analysis of the event.
Unfortunately, to be effective in the Western world, it is difficult to get rid of judgment entirely. We need to judge and evaluate others to see if they can do the job or not. It might be more appropriate to use a softer word, like discernment.
Kabbalah has another term called,
"SWEETENING OF THE JUDGMENTS."
When I was conducting Inward Bound trips into wilderness we endeavored to let personal judgment slide - there were no deadlines to meet and no goals to achieve. The Bushmen have a gentle pace of life and possibly this is one reason why judgment is not a big part of their behavior. When there is peace, calm, harmony and equanimity, judgment falls aside. When there is no judgment, peace and calm result. Noticing and being aware of one's breathing puts us immediately in touch with our mood. If we are anxious or upset, our breathing is shallow and rapid; if we are calm and relaxed, then so is our breathing. We can control our state of mind by controlling our breathing. We can change a feeling of being upset and harried to one of being tranquil and at peace just by altering the breath. If we can control judgment with a similar practice we can have a powerful effect on our spiritual progress. Self judgment is also harmful. Neuroscience has show that beating ourselves up about who we are or what we have done or not done, does not enhance our progress as we may have thought growing up but rather inhibits it.
All spiritual traditions rest on a firm moral foundation and have tenets to reinforce righteous behavior. We cannot aspire to high ideals if we have a poor image of our character and behavior. Our own self-critical feeling that we are not good enough leads us to invest a lot of energy into judging others to compensate for our feeling of deficiency. Judgment of others and of ourselves makes us angry and takes away our power. We suffer more from judging another than the person who is being judged who does not even know what we are thinking. Furthermore whenever one points a finger there are usually three fingers pointing back at ourselves.
We are incapable of recognizing a shadowy quality in someone else unless it is a part of our own shadow as well. More often than not, judgment is a projection of our own shadow onto another.
Maybe we can forgive others, their failings and idiosyncrasies if, at the same time, we forgive ourselves for something. We can make a trade, forgive and let it go as we forgive ourselves for a failing we do not care for in our own personality. This barter system might work a little more effectively, since being non-judgmental in a situation that evokes strong emotions can be extremely difficult.
Ayurvedic medicine or the science of life, believes that we have a basic nature or Prakriti. There are three main Doshas which can make up anyone's Prakriti. These Doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each of which represents a spiritual-mind-body type. This is more sophisticated than the simple Western definition of endo, meso and ectomorph. Vata represents movement, Pitta metabolism and Kapha structure. The following are some of their characteristics.
Vata people typically are thin, bony and have tremendous energy. They are excitable, vivacious and anxious, and exhaust easily if they overexert themselves. They are hyper-excitable and, true to their Vata principle of movement, they move about a lot. They grasp concepts quickly, but are quick to forget. When out of balance they tend to display anxiety and nervousness.
Pitta people represent the typical mesomorph and have more strength and endurance. They have excellent digestive capacity and cannot miss a meal without becoming ravenously hungry. They have sharp intellect, are enterprising, become angry with stress, take charge of situations and are demanding, sarcastic and critical.
Kapha people tend to be endomorphic and strong. They have steady energy, but tend to put on weight easily. They have compassion and empathy and are slow to anger. They tend to wake up slowly, improve their mood by eating and have good retentive memories. They often remain attached to relationships and ideas.
These are some of the qualities of these three Doshas and we may have one or more operating in our basic nature. We are unable to change our makeup. If we try to be someone else and not true to our Dosha, we may go out of balance. Ayurveda gives many recommendations for keeping a particular Dosha in balance, by paying attention to whatever it is that gives our Dosha equanimity. There is no such thing as a good or bad Dosha; the Dosha just is! That is the way we are and the Dosha is the body-mind card we were dealt when we were born.
Some of us are single Dosha types and others can be a mix of di- or tri- Dosha. It is the dominant Dosha that is likely to go out of balance. Of these, Vata is the most active and most likely to be adversely affected first.
Yoga also affirms with the greeting Namaste - I see the God within you.
This mind-body classification can give us insights into judgment. If we can look at people in the light of their having a particular Dosha, we can forgive them and ourselves more easily for some of our "faults." The overanxious, irritable Vata personality who has been excessively stressed, has not slept and is exhausted, no longer is seen as a jerk, but recognized as manifesting the signs of his Vata Dosha which is out of balance. Kapha personalities who have trouble getting up in the morning and constantly gain weight can be appreciated for their inherent Kapha nature instead of being regarded as lazy and undisciplined. By the same token, we can recognize some of our own behavior patterns and not judge ourselves so severely for our own deficiencies.
Judgment can be positive or negative, and we are inclined to think that as long as we are saying good things no harm is done. Certainly praise is preferable to criticism, but it is still judgment. It has been my experience in the group setting that lavish praise can be just as harmful as strong condemnation. When we praise in a close-knit group we are comparing one person's performance to the others, and this can lead to a feeling of inadequacy on behalf of those not being praised. It may be more constructive to the group as a whole to take the individual aside and say what must be said in private, be it appreciation or otherwise.
We may need to take another lesson from the Bushmen in this instance. Living in a close knit clan, they have ways of keeping everyone humble and holding egos in check to maintain harmony and equanimity. Anthropologist Richard Lee describes what he has called "Insulting the meat." This is an indifference or even a negativity displayed to the good news of a successful hunt by members of the clan. An accomplished hunter will tend to understate and be self-effacing and modest about what he has brought for the group, and the happy onlookers are more apt to say something derogatory about a kill. Even something as impressive as a giraffe may be met with a statement such as, "Do you expect this puny specimen will feed us all?" The hunter furthermore is expected to reply in a deferential way. This type of light-hearted bantering is vital in keeping more arrogant individuals in check and preventing judgment arising from envy. The Western equivalent of a "roast" to celebrate someone's achievements may be a similar idea.
The shadow archetype with its judgmental temperament is apt to come up especially during close interactions such as on groups in wilderness or other ventures where there is a lot of intimate personal interaction and often added stress. This can frequently be a disruptive force in the group. If the group has an understanding and awareness of the psychodynamics of this shady side of the ego self each individual can take responsibility for their shadow rather than assign blame and point fingers.