I recently asked the Abbot of the Blue Lotus Temple if he ever makes judgements on people based on how they look or what they say. He immediately answered “of course!”. He then went on to explain that it is natural to judge, but the key is to do that without wishing any harm on another. Great words, and sound advice to be sure. Except that I question his answer. And remember, this practice is to question everything. Whether it is said by Bhante Sujatha, or the Buddha himself, it is wise and skillful to question everything, until we can verify it to be true and correct by our own testing.
So here’s the thing. Why I am far from being free of judgment, I do practice to extinguish this in my own life. Sometimes fairing extremely well, while other times failing miserably. But as I remain mindful of this, I find that I judge less and less – or at least, catch myself almost instantly as these judgements arise in my mind.
This practice is intended to soften and open our hearts, not harden and separate us from one another. Whether we are different colors, sex, religion or even species, there is a deeply rooted connectedness. We all suffer, feel joy and pain, and are impermanent.
All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?
-Dhammapada 129, 130
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
I think you can see, that two of the greatest teachers in history have both pointed the way toward peace and acceptance. And my imperfections only serve as another chance to grow, and follow their loving example as best I can. Moment by moment, with each interaction being a great opportunity and blessing.