Judgement vs. Discernment


When we become attached to pleasure, desire and validating our own limiting beliefs, we often become quick to make judgements about anything that doesn't fit into our bubble of comfort and anyone who seems to threaten our perceptions. This is not only not healthy but can be dangerous. It is the seed that sometimes grows into misunderstanding, revulsion, hatred, and even violence. Our mind makes judgements to protect our limiting beliefs and create a false safety net from which to move within. We often form our social circles from groups of other people with similar beliefs who see life through the same glasses we do. However, this often restricts our vision and closes our minds.

When we judge others, we often become reactive and argumentative. It is the ego that judges, and causes us to stereotype others and polarize ourselves - separating/segregating ourselves from others. On the other hand, it is necessary to be able to tell what is good from what is bad, what is right from what is wrong...what is healthy for our bodies and minds, and what may harm us. Although even these terms can be subjective.

"Discernment" is defined as "keen perception". The Sanskrit word for discernment is "Viveka". Viveka is about seeing things as they are. It requires practice and is part of "Svadhyaya" - or self study. Being able to discern self from True Self, Ego from Reality, what is rational from what is irrational, what is real from what is unreal, what is "Truth" from what is "Fake news". "If we understood the essence of the other religions of the world and saw that, despite their differences, they all have a similar bottom line – be good to each other and a good human being – there would be little to fear from that understanding." (Constance Habash, https://www.awakeningself.com/writing/judgement-vs-discernment/)

By practicing mindfulness, we begin to cultivate the "Witness" through self-study and discerning what we are and what we are not. We begin to be able to separate our thoughts, emotions and reactions from who we really are. When we can do this, we can witness our actions and reactions and decide if we want to continue to act ignorantly and thoughtlessly or if we want to begin to be more mindful. We begin to see that humans are more alike than we are different. We begin to see the humanity in all humans and have compassion for all beings. Namaste.

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