The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating.
— Indian philosopher Krishnamurti
Can you think of the last time that you noticed something that someone was doing, and you made a judgment about that person?
We do it every day.
Instead of seeing the wholeness of a person, we label.
We use all kinds of words to describe people. Even if we don’t use them outloud, simple words like rude, mean, ignorant, or stupid float in and out of our minds as we take in the world around us. We are always assessing.
We see someone doing something we think is wrong and we immediately begin to draw conclusions about that person instead of just observing them.
We have been taught this way of viewing the world for so long that we can hardly tell the difference between simply observing and evaluating.
But observing is the way of Loving Kindness.
In Vipassana Meditation, the most often repeated phrase is “Just observe. Just observe. Just observe.”
You learn the practice by observing your breath. In Vipassana, you don’t try to change your breath or even to control it. You just observe it. Just observe.
When you observe, you are in Pure Presence. You have no need to evaluate. You just are.
One of the reasons we evaluate or judge is that it helps us to defend ourselves. It is on the basis of making others “wrong” that we are able to declare ourselves as “right.”
Byron Katie says that “defense is the first act of war.”
If we observe instead of defend, if we remain present instead of beginning to judge, we choose an act of peace instead of an act of war.
Choosing peace is always the way of Loving Kindness.
And with all the practices of Loving Kindness, first you begin with yourself.
As soon as you walk away from reading this email, you might catch yourself in the middle of a judgment. You might be tempted to make a judgment about yourself for being judgmental. Instead, try to just observe yourself.
That’s interesting that I made a judgment of that person.
Just be with yourself in Loving Kindness in the moment of observing.
The more you practice observing yourself with Loving Kindness, the more you will be able to offer Loving Kindness to others.
And in doing so, you will be decreasing duality in our world.
May you live more and more, dear heart, into the practice of Loving Kindness!
PS. If you’re unfamiliar with Byron Katie’s work, you can listen to her interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Conversations Podcast.
PPS. Also, if you want more Loving Kindness in your life, I wrote a whole book on practicing Loving Kindness. Order it right here.