Breaking the Judgment Habit

Rumi's field

“Beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.

The ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing that Rumi speaks of come from judgment. Judgment comes from the negative ego and, as such, is restrictive. It is a tool, designed to keep us from growing and progressing, which allows our negative ego to stay in charge.

Judgment binds us to karma, both ours and the karma of others, and keeps us out of acceptance.  Karma is a choice. I’ve always envisioned it like a backpack full of rocks that we choose to pick up and carry. Every time we are judgmental, every time we have a resentment or choose to hold on to something from our past and carry it forward, we put another rock in the backpack. We carry this backpack forward through all of our lifetimes. Sometimes we’re lucky and manage to get a rock out and leave it behind, but our backpacks almost always end up being really heavy.

Part of the path to enlightenment is to learn how to put the backpack down. The first step is to make the decision. You have to make a conscious choice to not carry around a backpack full of rocks. Some of them are easy, some of them require more work, but it’s a process. Anything that can get triggered, that’s a rock; defuse the trigger. Any absolute (always, never, I can’t, etc.) is a rock; it’s also usually a trigger, so look at it with the goal of defusing it. Any time something happens and you feel disconnected, there’s a rock there somewhere; take some time to figure out what it is. Some of this work is more easily done with the help of another person, so consider asking for help when you feel stuck in the process.

Then you have to practice not picking up new rocks while you’re still learning how to put the backpack down.  Picking up new rocks is just a habit to be broken, just like any other habit. If you’ve learned how to disengage from the thoughts generated by your negative ego (usually through meditation), you can see when the judgment impulse comes up, and you can choose not to participate. You might even have the rock in your hand already, but if you can manage to catch yourself, there’s still time to put it down before the rock ends up in your backpack.

The opposite of karma, the goal of all of this, is to live in forgiveness. You’ll know when you’re there, or at least well on your way, when you feel absolutely no resistance to the idea of forgiveness being your goal.

from 365 Days to Enlightenment

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