"Blossoms and Thorns"
- in my meditation garden -
All sorts of spiritually destructive forces seemed to have been unleashed in the wake of the recent presidential election in America, and while we have seen many heinous instances of a renewed racism on our city streets, I personally think that one of the most disturbing things I have observed is how “judgmental” so many people seem to be.
Everyone seems to be pretty sure that their side was right and the other wrong in these post election days. Accusations of racism on one side or elitism on the other occupy most of the news and the social media, and while I firmly believe that we should identify hatred and “call out racism,” I also believe that this may be a good time for all of us to take a few steps back and look at our own faults before we too-readily judge the faults of others.
In fact, in my experience, I have discovered that whenever I see something about another that I dislike or something in another that offends me, more often than not that very fault I see in others is something within me that I don’t like but may be afraid to admit.
Interestingly enough the scriptures and teachings of all the great world-wide religious traditions identify “judging others” as a serious impediment on any spiritual path. They all offer a clear warning against condemning the faults of others while failing to see one’s own sins.
Why do you see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the log in your own?
First take the log out of your own eyes
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of the eye of another.
The Buddha likewise taught:
The faults of others are easier to see than your own faults.
The Holy Quran also teaches:
Glad tidings to the person more concerned about his own faults
than bothering about the faults of others.
Yes, I am concerned about the potential for division and hatred and I reject those instances of prejudice and racism that have surfaced in our culture in the wake of the recent election, but I also hope that these days may offer all of us opportunities to first look at what is inside our own hearts before we condemn what is inside another. Instead of judging, I want to use this time to do some serious soul-searching, to ask how I might make my own heart softer and my own life more compassionate.
I’ve heard lots of people tell me that they have cancelled their “Thanksgiving Dinner” plans with their extended families because they know they will be fighting with one another over whatever side they were on in this election. Maybe we should all keep our plans and come to the table with an awareness of our own faults in mind before we start judging everyone else.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian pastor who was sent to a Concentration Camp during the second World War once wrote this message from his prison cell:
By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil.