by Michael Ketterhagen
The third yogic contemplation that would lead all of us to peace and harmony is being non-judgmental.
This non-violent guideline is an extreme challenge because almost every human being evaluates the behavior and performance of ourselves and other humans. We even evaluate the weather— “It’s too hot!” “It’s too cold.” “Why don’t we get more rain?” “We have gotten too much rain.” Every opinion about ourselves or another or the world around us is a judgement.
We evaluate (judge) every relationship and even every person who loves us and whom we love.
I became aware of this just recently when someone told me that her spouse never showed her that he loved her, even though he said that he did. “He really doesn’t know how to love others,” she told me.
Upon contemplating about what love was, I recalled a book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, and Christianity’s belief that we are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27). According to Chapman, people express their love in five ways: words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving/receiving gifts, performing acts of service and through physical touch. Each person also has a preference as to how s/he expresses that love.
If Christianity is correct and if God is love (1 John 4:16b), then all human beings are love at our core. We are made to express love. The Yoga Tradition agrees when it says that we are divine, infinite and perfect beings (DIPs) at our core. Therefore, each human loves others in one or more of those five ways.
Each of us also defines the meaning of each of expressions of love. For example, one person might think giving “constructive criticism” is affirming the potential of another. However, the person receiving the “criticism” might judge that as “not at all helpful.”
Or someone may bring home a paycheck or buy little things for the house or partner and view those actions as service to the family or the marriage. They might call those actions as loving their spouse or their family. However, the family or spouse might think (judge) that that behavior is just doing one’s duty, and, therefore, doesn’t come up to the level of “true love.”
Why would people judge the actions of a loved one in that way?
Because they think that the other person is not expressing love in the way they think (judge) s/he should express love. This is being judgmental of the other person. This is being judgmental of one’s spouse or partner.
As I said before, being non-judgmental is a challenging practice. It takes deep contemplation and continued dedication to the realization that we are all doing our best to fulfill our nature—Divine, Infinite and Perfect—even when that method of loving another contradicts everything that we believe.
All humans long to love others and long to be accepted for the way they love others.
“Being non-judgmental” is a challenging practice and one that is necessary if we are to live in peace and harmony.