One of the “tricky” faculties of the human mind is our ability to judge. We need to be “razor-sharp” in using the quality of discrimination – knowing first the two sides of that “coin” – while refraining from making judgments based on insufficient information, hearsay or our own narrow perspective. To clarify what might sound rather complicated in that sentence, I have two examples.
- In Matthew’s gospel text for this morning I heard Jesus say to his disciples: Stop judging, that you may not be judged…Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?…(MT 7:1-5) Jesus is so clear in asking us to look in the mirror of honesty rather than thinking too much of ourselves in relationship to others.
- I always explain to people who ask, that the major positive effect that my ten years of centering prayer* has had in my life is that it has made me a less judgmental person. The practice of letting go of thoughts during the prayer allows me to “let go” of other things in daily living. Circumstances that would have previously caused me consternation are often “just the way it is” now – including times when I have felt myself less than successful. That helps me to allow other people to be imperfect as well.
The key to all of this discrimination (the good side of seeing honestly, i.e. the difference between one thing and another, as in “discrimination between right and wrong” rather than a prejudicial stance toward a category of things – or people) is awareness. We need to wake up to our thoughts and where they come from, to our motivations and where they move us. Walking mindfully through our days is a goal to be achieved one moment at a time.
*See Cynthia Bourgeault’s book Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening and/or Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart.