Swami Kriyananda was meditating in the Portiuncula (in a town near Assisi, Italy where St. Francis used to live). He prayed to St. Francis and all of a sudden felt his presence and a great blessing.
He said he had never imagined that it was possible for a human consciousness to be so sweet. And he asked St. Francis, “How is it possible to be so sweet?” And the answer came to him: “By seeing everyone as your brother and sister. By judging no one. By being humble. But above all, by judging no one and accepting everyone as your own.”
I have been thinking about this a lot recently.
A few years ago, I spent some time in our Ananda Assisi community where I got to dive deeper into studying art and consciousness at the Awakening Arts academy there. Being in that beautiful setting among the expanse of the mountains, I felt inspired to try a landscape painting.
Now let’s say that capturing perspectives and landscapes is not one of my greater strengths. So, I got really frustrated with the process and kept talking about how much I hate the outcome of what I’m painting! “I’m so bad at this” was my inner and outer voice! And a friend kept saying, “No!!! Love what you’re doing!” But I just couldn’t bring myself to that, and you can well imagine how it turned out! The outcome was pretty dull indeed!
Not judging begins with ourselves, and then also extends to everyone around us. One exercise I’ve been finding helpful is to consciously try to find something positive about the person or situation we find ourselves judging. There’s always something positive we can focus on. Then our thoughts start shifting from being judgmental to being appreciative. After all everyone is trying their best!
I recently found myself in a situation where I was faced with a person speaking very strongly and sharing their opinion. It made me a little uncomfortable and I started to think “oh no, I can’t handle this”, and “why do they have to be so…” But I realized this was making me become more and more tense and unhappy. So, I tried to find something positive in them. And when I shifted my focus to the tiniest positive thing about them, the situation became bearable and I relaxed. I felt I could be supportive and give back to them.
Swami Kriyananda says: “Respect others for who they are, and if they are trying sincerely to grow, support them. Give them a chance to grow in their own way, with the God-given right we all have to do our humble best in life.”
If we really pay attention, we can catch ourselves in the most subtle “judgments” about ourselves or others, and try to put out positive thoughts! Our thoughts have power. By paying attention and expressing positive loving thoughts, we begin to overcome our tendency to judge. And this can make a huge difference in how we approach our lives.