Personal Growth – The Three Fingers of Judgment

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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Although officially retired, I play taxi driver for my kids, trundling their kids back and forth to the school bus and other school activities as well as various and sundry activities from the “family helper” category. We are a nuclear family with each of us involved in all the children’s lives as a team. Sometimes I provide a moving library seat as they read or listen to music. Sometimes we get into some really interesting discussions ranging from cartoons to human behavior to the cosmos and beyond. It was that way with my kids and it is that way with my grandkids as well. Recently as I was doing a school bus run, we had a discussion about judging the actions and attitudes of others. Something my sister said many years ago came to mind and helped to illustrate the conversation.

I am a student of metaphysics and philosophy, and I spend most of my time pondering the meaning of what happens to me and to others. One of my favorite ponderings is to take a seed thought, a single word or phrase that sets my mind to wandering and wondering, and puzzle it through as a working meditation. Some meditations are silent and you sit receptively and wait for universal consciousness to fill your mind or to just rest in its universal stillness. Some meditations are purposeful, entered into to accomplish a specific goal. Still other meditations are active, such as a much-repeated mantra, an active prayer or programming, a journey in consciousness, or a pondering as I described above. During my years of study, I’ve done all of them in one form or another at one time or another. Nowadays I find myself working my way through the pondering type of meditation, particularly with a single thought or theme.

I do not think it is possible for any person to go through life without ever being judgmental, no matter your deepest intent or how hard you try. As I live and progress, my experience will lead me to conclusions and opinions. These conclusions and opinions may be perfect for me, but that does not make them so for others. Should I choose to be honest, truthful, loyal, responsible and a ton of other great attributes, that is my choice for me and for my experience. Again, that does not make it so for others. If their experience has led them to be other than those qualities or to not value those qualities, they will not appreciate or reciprocate my so-called “sterling” attributes. Why? Perhaps they do not know how or they simply believe differently. If I take those qualities I admire and try to naively cocoon others in those qualities or shove those qualities down their throat whether or not they believe in them as a way of life, I would be making an error in personal judgment. 

Why naive? If I place unrealistic expectations upon a person, however well-intentioned, I am setting up an unfortunate fall from grace for that individual and for myself as the person who will be disillusioned by that fall. We are not in this world because we are perfect. Earth is a very large schoolhouse with myriad lessons. There would be no point to being in a school of experience if we did not need experience. We are here because we are going to school, to grow and to become, to improve and to evolve. If I am a student of life, I should not ever be put on a pedestal. Neither should anyone else be placed on a pedestal. Why? Because sooner or later the person on the pedestal is going to fall off. Think about this logically. There is no other direction to go from a pedestal besides “off”. To put any person on such a pedestal is a set-up for eventual failure and the inevitable post mortem judgments.

A few years ago, I helped a long-time friend through some difficulties brought about by a life of lying. Somewhere along the road, the lies caught up with that friend and you cannot imagine the chaos that ensued. The outcome was loss of spouse, family, child, home, all of it, and it was devastating. That is when I truly learned that some people are raised differently than I was and -therefore I was not in a position to judge them as individuals. My friend was raised by liars to be a liar as a way of life. How can I, who was raised by people who elevated truthfulness to an art form, have an open enough mindset not to judge those who were not raised my way? I am not declaring that others have carte blanche to do whatever they will. I can be as appalled and horrified at human behavior as anyone else. I do take a stand where I feel it is warranted. But I was not born to judge others or to set myself up as a perfect example of life and living. I must learn to walk the middle way between opinion and judgment. 

This is incredibly important in today’s political arena as I listen to and watch hypocrisy, lies, misdirection, misinformation and many other such activities occurring most of the time. I am not taking sides at this moment (although I do have a side and I do believe you already know it would be the side where the truth resides). I am merely pointing out how judgmental our society has become. Whether you are right or left, conservative or liberal, moderate or extreme, fired up or politically weary, we as a society are so polarized that we are losing the ability to ponder and negotiate in good faith.

  • If I feel victimized by the lies and attack attitudes, I will judge those people doing those actions accordingly. It does not matter if my sense of victimization is legitimate. If I feel victimized, my conclusion will be that it is truly happening to me.
  • If I feel I have the right to shove my opinion down someone else’s throat, that the end justifies the means and that it is okay to lie when necessary, I have moved out of conclusion and opinion and into judgment. My attitude and actions would not make me right, they would make me loud, confrontive and bullying – perhaps a liar. 

It is not possible to live a life without opinion and conclusion. When I wake up in the morning and decide whether it is or will be a wonderful day or a dud, that is my personal opinion and conclusion. When I decide what color or what clothing to wear that day, personal opinion and conclusion prevails. Personal opinion and conclusion are a necessary result to life and living. Those who are unable to reach conclusions or form personal opinions would be handicapped in this world.  Having said that, such conclusions and opinions are natural. Just when do we cross the line into judgment? It should not ever be necessary for us to take the next leap to the assumption that what we think or feel is right for any other person. That is the judgment line.

As a spiritually motivated person, I must look at that quality within myself just as you will need to look at that quality within yourself. Have you noticed that whatever you judge in a person or their actions appears in your life almost immediately after your judgment, only you are the person performing the similar dastardly deed? Actually, the further you progress in the development of your spiritual self, the faster the personal example will arrive. Chagrin arrives with it. All we can do is observe, take it in as a spiritual poke from the universe and learn from it.

When my grandkids and I were discussing the judgmental quality, the analogy I remembered that my sister used so many years ago was that of the pointing finger of judgment. She believed that you should not go around pointing your finger at others in judgment because if you will look at your own hand, you will see three of your own fingers pointing back at yourself. Experiment… hold your hand up in the air in the gesture of telling someone else what to do. Look at your index finger pointing straight ahead at the person, thumb cocked up in the air like the hammer on a gun, your other three fingers curled back against your palm. Your hand roughly forms a weapon fueled by your words and your judgment. No wonder people are uncomfortable when at the pointed end of judgment. At no time were you appointed as ruler of this world with the right to force your personal opinion on another. You are here to go to school, to learn, to grow and to become – the same as every one else.

Look again at your gesture. Where are those other three curled fingers pointing at that moment? Your single judgment finger is pointed at another, but the other three fingers of judgment are curved so they are pointing right back at you. With your single, possibly rude judgment of another, you are actually judging yourself thrice… or by way of analogy, inviting three judgments to be passed against you. Think about this. Pondering would be good.

Published on EZine online April, 2010, republished with slight editing.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.