Kevin B. Burk, author of The Relationship Handbook: How to
Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.
I’ve noticed that many of us who embrace the power
of positive thinking have very strong feelings about judgment.
Judgment is bad. Judgment is wrong. Judgment should be avoided
at all costs. The irony is that we are in judgment about judgment.
Why is judgment so powerful? Because judgment is
one of the most essential ways that we can meet our Safety Needs.
Judgments allow us to make the choices that will protect us and
keep us safe. Judgment is how we know when it’s safe to cross
the street, how we know not to eat green meat or brown vegetables,
and that it’s probably not a good idea to invest in ocean-front
property in Kansas. Each day, we make thousands of judgments that
support our health, safety, happiness, and general well being.
Since this is the case, how can we judge judgment to be bad?
Once again, the challenge with judgment comes from
the ego. The ego believes that its job is to keep us safe from
what it perceives to be a hostile, lonely and dangerous universe.
In fact, this is not the ego’s job. The ego’s job is more or less
to help us remember where we left our car keys. The universe is
hostile, lonely and dangerous to the ego, because the ego can
be destroyed. We, on the other hand, are not our egos; we are
eternal, multi-dimensional beings who are currently having a human
experience. This human experience becomes increasingly challenging
when we forget the truth of who we are and believe that we are
The ego gets very excited about any tool it finds
that can help it to keep us safe. Unfortunately, the ego doesn’t
always use these tools in skillful ways. When we exercise
judgment, we protect ourselves and this helps us to feel legitimately
safe. The ego, however, can often take this too far. Instead of
exercising judgment, we end up being in judgment.
While exercising judgment keeps us safe,
being in judgment makes us feel less safe. When
we are in judgment about something, we buy into the illusion that
we are separate from that person, thing, experience or quality.
In fact, being in judgment about something specifically denies
and distances that thing from us. When we are in judgment about
something, we push it away from us. The truth, however, is that
we are all part of All That Is and there is no separation. The
more we experience this truth, the safer we feel. The more we
are in judgment and experience the illusion that we are separate,
the less safe we feel.
We are often unaware of the fact that we are in
judgment. Often, our judgment comes from our point of view. We
spend most of our lives buying into the illusions of our day-to-day
life that our perceptions are based on the small picture rather
than the big one.
Consider, for example, our relationship to beauty.
Beauty is eternal. It is one of the fundamental qualities of All
That Is. Beauty is, in fact, part of the essential nature of the
Universe. But how often do we experience Beauty on its own terms?
(This, by the way, is what Keats meant when he wrote “Beauty is
truth, truth beauty.” He was experiencing divine beauty.)
Rather than seeing beauty everywhere, most of us
experience beauty as a judgment. The filter of our conditioning,
perceptions, expectations and self-judgment causes us to evaluate
the surface appearance, and prevents us from experiencing the
truth that is Beauty.
The bigger the concept, the more powerful our judgment,
and the more difficult it is for us to accept that what we experience
as truth may merely be a point of view. We are immersed in such
immense concepts as “good and evil” and “right and wrong” and
yet we can rarely grasp that there is no such thing as absolute
good or absolute evil; there is no absolute right or absolute
Just because a thing is true for us, does not mean
it is a Universal Truth. The fundamental nature of the Universe
is Good; however, the universe contains all things, and all things
include suffering, loss, and pain. These experiences must therefore
be Good. Of course, we are rarely able to accept them as Good,
especially when we’re in the middle of them. We experience loss,
suffering and pain, and we almost automatically step into judgment
about these experiences. Unpleasant experiences trigger our egos
and make us feel unsafe, and our egos step in and try to protect
us by passing judgment on these experiences. Unfortunately, when
we pass judgment on these experiences, we increase our sense of
separation, and feel less safe.
If we want to experience true safety, true security
and true happiness, we must learn how to identify and release
our judgments, wherever we find them.
It should come as no surprise to any of my readers
that my political and social views are extremely liberal. I believe
in a world that works for everyone, and support the greatest amount
of freedom and dignity for each and every individual on the planet.
Needless to say, I don’t agree with or support anything about
the current Presidential administration in the United States.
Right after 9/11, I spent quite a lot of time feeling
angry and frightened. Initially, I was frightened of what could
happen to my country from the outside. As the dust began to settle,
I became frightened of what was happening to my country from the
inside. I could not watch the news, and I certainly could not
look at or listen to President Bush without getting angry and
frustrated, and without experiencing tremendous and powerful judgment.
Just the thought of this administration and what
was occurring in the world was enough to raise my blood pressure
and drain my personal Safety account. I realized that I needed
to take a few steps back and try to see the larger picture.
Most people are aware that something is going on
in the world. We live in interesting times. In fact, we are preparing
for the largest, most dynamic shift in human consciousness in
history. Collectively, our species is waking up and becoming aware
of the truth of who we are. In ten years, we will not recognize
the world. Technology, science, politics, economics, and spirituality
are converging, creating unprecedented change.
As a teacher, a counselor, and a healer, I have
always been very sure of my role in facilitating this change.
But as I considered the bigger picture, I realized that individuals
like President Bush are also playing a vital role in this process.
Change, growth, evolution—these all require conflict. It is only
through the tension created by the interaction of opposing forces
that we learn, that we are challenged, and that we discover our
potential. In order for there to be conflict, someone has
to play the role of the villain.
When I consider things from this perspective, I
find that I am able to release my judgments about people like
George Bush, Sadaam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, and the many others
who, throughout history have been willing to play the role of
the villain, to be the adversary, to help to create conflict and
to raise the collective awareness of the planet. It requires tremendous
strength, power, and love (yes, love) to be willing to assume
these roles and to bear the burden of humanity’s anger, fear,
and hatred. We judge these roles as being unpleasant, even evil.
But the truth is that these roles are necessary. It has been said
that history needs its butchers as well as its shepherds.
By confronting us with the truth of how much pain
we can experience by embracing the lies of fear and separation
and ego, these individuals also offer us our greatest gift. They
reveal to us that we also have an equal capacity to experience
love, freedom, abundance and unity. They help to wake us up, to
make us aware of our potential, and remind us that it is our responsibility
to choose which world we create.
When I began to embrace this perspective, I found
that I no longer experienced judgment about President Bush. He
no longer made me feel unsafe, and news about the actions of his
administration no longer raise my blood pressure. While I, personally,
will still dedicate my life to fighting against everything he
stands for, and to helping elect representatives who will create
positive and lasting change in the world, I do this without judgment.
I can honor and respect President Bush for the role that he is
playing in the universal shift in consciousness. I can be grateful
to him for the role he has played in the evolution of my own consciousness.
And I can know that the outcome of the conflict between he and
I will be a world that truly works for everyone.
By releasing my judgments, I once again felt safe,
and with my Safety needs met, I could direct my energy and attention
to the things that matter most to me.
Kevin B. Burk is the author of
Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every
Relationship in Your Life.
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