I occasionally muse on how much of our psychic energy we waste in always making mental judgments about this, that & the other thing. (Of course, I’m often as guilty of it as the next person…)
We leap to judgment constantly, without even skipping a beat.
I remember walking along a busy sidewalk one time & being caught behind a woman walking so slowly I felt certain she must surely be deliberately being a pain in the neck (after all, everything is all about me & my convenience, right?)
When I got past her, I discovered she was hugely pregnant, with a toddler walking in front of her. Then I felt pretty foolish for jumping to such a totally self-centred conclusion.
Another time, I had to rent a car to get to an event I was coordinating in a town an hour’s drive away. The only thing available was an SUV – a vehicle of which, as an environmentalist, I’m not overly fond. And I thought, “Yup. If someone judges me just because they saw me arrive in this vehicle, they won’t know how off the mark a snap judgment can be.”
Of course, Eckhart Tolle & the Buddhist writers are always reminding us to “be in the present moment,” & if we do our best to stay firmly planted in the present, there really isn’t psychic “room” for tons of opinions, judgments, resentments, inflexible plans, ideas, etc.
What brought this up for me this morning is this: I’m sitting at my corner table at my local coffee spot, which happens to overlook the drive-through lane.
I’ve been re-reading & editing some of my scribblings. I re-use paper in my printer, & when I turned one page over, discovered part of an article from the Utne Reader (November/December ’93 issue) I’d recently trimmed out of my files. It’s about pollution & environmental injustice, & there was the photo of a woman with her young son, born with most of his limbs missing as the result of her exposure to dangerous chemicals while picking grapes in California.
I started crying (I’m crying as I write this); what are we DOING on this planet??????
And then I thought, anyone who drives by & who knows me at all might assume I’m crying over my own personal “stuff” – & that would be a very inaccurate conclusion to jump to.
Note to self (& others, if they think it’s worthy advice): Let’s try to just be.
Be here now.
The Christian admonition to “Judge not, lest ye be judged” can also help.
p.s. I’m glad my tears are flowing a little more readily of late. This is a healthy thing, I think…
p.p.s. Joanna Macy has pointed out that all of our problems are mind-made. Eckhart Tolle emphasizes this too. He says we tend to have “noisy minds.” I’d hazard a guess that some of us have minds that are positively deafening. I know mine is often pretty goshdarn busy. Some things do help still it. Walking, sitting by the river, canoeing & singing really help keep me present. For many, yoga & meditation are invaluable for this…
p.p.p.s. I recall writing a little essay once in which I said, “Jumping to conclusions takes too much energy!” A useful thought, maybe…
A Few Relevant Quotations:
“When I pray, I ask for guidance in my life to be the best person I can be, to learn what I need to learn, and to grow from what I learn. Always when I pray, I ask to let go. Letting go is the hardest part.” – Julia Butterfly Hill in The Legacy of Luna - The Story of a Tree, A Woman, & the Struggle to Save the Redwoods
“At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. Then, there would be a real New Age.” ~ Ken Wilber
“There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
“The criteria for success: you are free, you live in the present moment, you are useful to the people around you, and you feel love for all humanity.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar