Beyond Separation and Judgment
Have you noticed that in our shame-oriented culture we tend to judge everything and everyone? These assessments come so naturally that we barely notice them. One glance and we estimate that an issue is right or wrong, an idea is good or bad, a person or nation is a friend or foe. If we’re really honest, we assess and judge 24/7 – even down to what someone is wearing. So ingrained and buried is this habit that it’s truly a challenge to change it.
Yet every religion and philosophy I know suggests that when following a true spiritual path, judgment must be abandoned. Why? Because when we judge we create separation. Instead, the true spiritual way leads beyond judgmentalism and separation toward an understanding that we are not separate: We are one in the deepest sense.
The author, artist, and photographer Doe Zantamata writes,
“It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.”
The religious and philosophical traditions I am familiar with speak of each person as a spark of the Divine. Traditions may vary in the way they explain it or the vocabulary they use to describe it, but all share this understanding. The Abrahamic traditions, for instance, say that each of us is created in the image of the Divine.
Recently I have been exploring Sufi traditions and have come to appreciate the way Sufism asserts that nothing is outside the scope or reach of the Divine. In fact, everything is the Divine. Don’t you think it would be life-changing if we humans truly understood – and acted on – the truth of that? I think this is what Doe Zantamata is reaching for.
As I am shifting out of shame, the following poem has been helpful to me as I come to terms with my own and others’ judgments. You, too, may find it especially pertinent to all the turmoil we are witnessing in the world. I share it with you in the hope that we may all live into this way of being:
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase
doesn’t make any sense.
(Sufi Mystic 1207-1273 C.E.)
Translation by Coleman Barks
Meet you in the field!
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