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The Judging Mind

‘There′s so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behoves any of us to talk about the rest’ Saying from my grandmother, Jessica Hannagan

It amuses me to find that whenever I judge another person or their behaviour, what comes back to me is an experience of when I too have done exactly what they have done, or some variation of what I′m now judging. This certainly contributes to keeping me mindful of when I point the finger at someone else – there are three fingers facing back at me.

This isn′t to say that some behaviours aren′t downright destructive. And in response, we need to take skilful action. However whenever we use our judging mind towards others, we stand a good chance of entering into one or more of the three power games – the right/wrong, good/bad and dominance/submission, all of which create havoc and profound suffering both personally and globally.

Have you noticed that as soon as we get into any of these three games it′s a no-win all round? As adults, as soon as we make someone wrong, or bad, or use ‘power over’ tactics, we all end up furiously treading water. Unless they are emotionally very competent, they will try to jockey themselves into the good, right position, or somehow covertly or overtly, get back at the people who have dominated them and robbed them of choice. And on it goes … round and round.

The challenge of course is to let go of the judging mind as soon as we spot it. This may sound simple but it isn′t easy.

Jack Kornfield shares a story about a man who got on a train one afternoon with his children who were out of control. He looked very weary and sat next to one of the clearly disapproving passengers. After a while the father said – ‘they lost their mother this morning’. We just never know what drives other′s behaviours until we check it out. And how many of us make the effort to do this?

There was a young lad who used to live around the corner from me. His Dad suffered from alcoholism and I never saw his mother. He was rather wild and from time to time behaved rather badly. I was rather wary when he was around. One morning I was out for a walk and I heard a little fellow screaming.

His foot had caught in the chain of his bike. What blew me away was the wild lad, down on his knees – holding the little fellow, and talking softly to him, while he disengaged the chain ever so gently and skilfully.

Sometime later, the wild lad appeared, breathless, at my front door. He was being chased, probably for good reason. I could see his fear – like a frightened child and remembered my grandmother′s ‘ there is so much good in the worst of us ’.

Looking back, I′m glad I let him in.

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