Sunday, March 4, 2012

Judge Not

I sat unmoving on the sandstone rocks. Light was coming to the eastern sky, but all remained a deep stillness. The world hadn’t yet awakened.

And then it did. Slowly.

A lone goose honked insistently toward the southwest, passing almost directly overhead. Silence returned. Dogs from a distant yard mounted a barking frenzy lasting several minutes. Quiet came again. Tiny birds rustled the branches of a bush, a car drove down an adjacent street, a slight breeze moved past my ear. Each sound arose from and was followed by a sweet hush.
This silence was glorious and grace~filled. It flowed like an underground stream beneath each sound, every form, all thought, even the slight movements of my body.
This stillness was like air, too. Always present. Always available. Usually unnoticed.

I noticed it now. As the sounds of daytime busyness increased, each seemed a wave rising from a vast ocean and falling back again. The ocean was all, and I vowed to remain in contact with it throughout my day.
Fast forward five hours. I’m sitting in the steamiest pool at the hot springs irritated because the couple with whom I share the water won’t shut up. Believe me, I was well aware of the irony!

I tried to find the stillness beneath their too~loud voices, but I couldn’t. Why was it effortless while sitting on the rocks, but darn near impossible now, immersed in healing waters? I knew the answer. I had been snagged again, caught in a judgmental response that closed me off to all but itself.
I didn’t act, but let the searing mineral water cook me a bit. Gradually, something else arose. Judgment gave way to a clear~eyed discernment.
When I judge, I see simple wrongdoings. A deeper, fuller wisdom comes when I discern. Discernment may acknowledge the same facts, but its vision is broader, with a context that is more complex and, thus, truer. 

In this case, discernment agreed that, by speaking loudly and incessantly, this couple was violating one of the basic norms of hot springs etiquette. But it also saw that these folks meant no harm. Though in their 50s, their love was new and they were in the wrapped~up~in~each~other stage that made them unaware of anything else.
Discernment also highlighted my own harsh reaction. It urged against imposing myself on the situation in a way that, given my level of annoyance, would be awkward, hurtful and ultimately unsatisfying. Discernment accepted the learning this couple offered me. Rather than asserting myself on my surroundings, I was to allow my surroundings to work on me. And so I did.
Rather than indulge and thereby strengthen my judgmental tendencies, I chose instead to give my tolerance muscle some much needed exercise. I let my spa~mates’ need for words override my preference for quiet. Very soon after I made that choice, of course, my unwitting teachers stepped out of the pool, their work complete. As they padded away down the boardwalk, delicious silence returned.
Judgment raised to a higher frequency becomes discernment. Without the aggressive emotional charge, it is free to work in harmony with what is, finding the most helpful way to proceed. Unbound by duality, discernment sees the good within the bad and can sense the Oneness that transcends and infuses them both.
Which brings us back to that blessed silence I perceived so clearly earlier in the day. That silence which is here now as I type and now as you read.
Underground stream. Air. Vast ocean. Whatever the metaphor, it is right here, right now. Always.

Blessings to my fella drops of ocean!

Loanne Marie           

Those who regularly read these pages are acquainted with a certain Monica Wood, who often leaves comments here. I recently came across (without any help from Monnie, by the way!), a story she wrote for Oprah. A link to the online edition is fitting, as in it she honors a dear soul who discerns always and judges never. Here she is~~dear Betty.


Unknown said...

Thank you. Loanne, for the gentle kick in the pants. I am always much too ready to judge and too often NOT ready to discern. I need your wise words to remind myself that discernment is the higher and more admirable state than judgment.

Loanne Marie said...

And I need YOUR wise words, too, to remind myself that this is simply part of the human condition~~a facet of our primitive brain structure that all of us need practice in overcoming if we are to continue to evolve, personally and as a species.

Thanks for reading and for writing!

Anonymous said...

Ah blessed silence! Sometimes we forget to be quiet and just let the world take over. What a nice reminder to not enforce our feelings, too!

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, a blessed silence. I love knowing it's there, just beneath all our racket~~ and even during those moments when silence may feel lonely.

Thanks for reading and for writing!

Rena said...

Lovely words and even sweeter sentiments. Oh, to be in hot water and silent bliss!

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, silence. Golden, indeed!

Thanks for reading and for writing.

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