red roses

red roses, Canon 300D

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
– Edward Abbey

At the dharma talk I attended the other night, the teacher brought up the topic of the “judging mind.” We all immediately groaned and smiled in recognition. He said something that surprised me though: “Whenever you place yourself above, below, or equal to someone else, that is the judging mind at work.”

I had only thought of judging as putting someone else down, but we are constantly (without realizing it) placing ourselves below others as well. The point of all of this is that none of it is true! and we can’t help but do it anyway. We judge. We are judgers. We are human. That’s what we do. All we can do is begin to notice it. We can begin to separate ourselves from that which is judging and say, “Oh, there I go again doing that judging thing I do.”

The problem is when we buy into it and believe our own insanity. You are never above, below or even equal to anyone else. You just made that up (with likely very questionable criteria). You just are. And the rest is an illusion.

I have been letting this one sink in all week…



  1. Posted August 5, 2004 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    andrea –
    this is exactly what i was talking to you about awhile ago when you asked, “what have you learned?”
    this is so hard to do when you see your age, your life and others lives with their ages factored in. sometimes you can feel like such a loser and other times you let out a huge sigh of relief. your life is your life and it’s just as valuable as anyone elses. even if they have a husband and you don’t, they have a wife and you don’t, etc.
    still hard to to compare and contrast. we’ve been taught that for how long now??

  2. Posted August 5, 2004 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    *still hard not to compare…* :)

  3. jenn
    Posted August 5, 2004 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    What an entry…. so interesting that you chose to write this today. Last night I was thinking about this exact topic. I find that I am always compairing myself to others. 99% of the time what I get out of this is that I put myself lower than others. Like I’ve done things “wrong” or “different” than society believe I should have done them. This week I am sitting with the idea of letting everyone around me be just who they are, and that also means letting me just be who I am. It’s a lot harder than I realized. It’s so imbedded in me. This internal dialog that’s been going on for so long.
    I am currently reading a book that was given to me as a gift. I believe it is the best gift I have ever received. It’s named the 72 names of God. I found this meditation in there that really touches on this. It goes like this….
    I need to be painfully honest! I acknowledge every person or group that stir up feelings of anger, envy, malice, total disgust, or any compination thereof. With the Light of this Name, I have the power to drop the poisonous nagative feelings that exist inside me!
    thank you for the great post today andrea.

  4. Posted August 5, 2004 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “we buy into and believe our own insanity.” True that! How do you stop your own insanity?

  5. samantha
    Posted August 5, 2004 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    i like that, just saying to ourselves, ‘Oh, there I go, judging again. Myself AND others.’
    great thoughts, and thanks for sharing them with us. Love the picture as well!

  6. samantha
    Posted August 5, 2004 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    i like that approach, instead beating ourselves up for being judgemental, to simply notice that we are judging ourselves AND others. I like to remember Anne Lamott’s advice, to treat myself like a beloved relative.
    Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing them. Of course I love the picture as well.

  7. jenn
    Posted August 5, 2004 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    it seems nice in theory, but where do morals factor in? if no one is indeed better or worse than me, than what motivation do i have to aspire to be better? if that is the case, does that mean that a man who has murdered ten women is equal to me on all scales? just something to think about.

  8. Posted August 5, 2004 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Yep, it’s hard not to judge. To me, judging someone harshly and negatively is unhealthy, but judging someone to be more successful or more beautiful than myself – well, that’s just being honest. It’s hard not to compare yourself to everyone else in the world. And so much judging disguises itself as truth. It seems natural to place yourself above or below someone…. I do it all the time. That’ll be a hard one to overcome.
    I’ve been offline for a while, so rather than commenting on all of your fabulous entries individually, I’ll just say that I love, love, love your contribution to Photo Friday’s “Mother” theme, that green cake looks delicious and the flower girls like angels, and Michael Bernard Loggins makes me smile and I don’t even know him.
    I hope all is well in your little corner of the world. :)

  9. Caroline
    Posted August 5, 2004 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I was just looking over the site, and the comments, and Jenn’s question got me thinking. Then I read your entry again. Deciding we are equal to someone is also judging. You are just you, and striving to better yourself is not striving to make yourself better than others. Thank you for making my day, yet again.

  10. Posted August 5, 2004 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, beautifully put.
    In a similar vein to your comments about judging ourselves, mention loving kindness and compassion and (rightly so) we all think of others. However, showing loving kindness and compassion towards oneself was one of the important early dharma lessons I had to let sink in.

  11. kim
    Posted August 6, 2004 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Great post! But my question is WHY do we judge the way we do? What is it about humans/human nature that causes this? Is it just a western culture thing?
    I feel like I’m constantly surrounded by people who are always competing with “The Jones’” and try to be above others by all the things they need to buy. This is judging themselves by saying “I will feel better and be better (successful) than others if I have better and more stuff than they have” – essentially, I’m afraid to appear below others.

  12. Julia
    Posted August 6, 2004 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Such true words!….But so hard to put into practice. It’s difficult to turn off the internal dialogue. But I’m working on it daily. Thanks for your thought provoking and inspiring words. :)

  13. Posted August 6, 2004 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Those words are powerful stuff.

  14. Paul
    Posted August 9, 2004 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I thought I could recognize judging when I see it and now realized I was only seeing 1/3 of what judging looks like, the putting someone else down part. They key phrase for me is “someone ELSE” as in besides myself.
    It seems that the one single element necessary for the other 3 judgments to occur is to judge myself first. I have to take inventory of me in order to have a reference point for the rest of it, no? And no one else is better at judging us, especially negatively, and beating us up, than our self. We are the absolute best at it.
    So shame on everyone! LOL
    Like you said, begin to notice it. Andrea, after searching for an hour for something that would seem completely unrelated, I just found your site and it looks edifying. Thanks for providing an unexpectedly great moment in my day.

  15. Posted August 10, 2004 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I think it’s because society is programed for us to believe we have to judge people..
    Is that a Hispanic church? That sure brings back memories.