Carrying Judgment

Two monks were casually walking by a stream. As they passed, a woman standing at its waters edge was struggling to get across. She asked softly if one of them could help her complete her mission (Buddhist Monks, you may know, are not suppose to touch anyone of the opposite sex.) One of the two, without much thought, went to her side. He lifted her up and with great care, carried her on his back across the river safely to the other side. After accomplishing his mission, she thanked him and went on her way. Upon returning to the other side to join his fellow monk, he noticed his friend shot him a stern glaring look, but without comment, they continued their walk, in silence.
About an hour later, the monk turned to his friend and said, “You know, that was inappropriate for you to do–carrying that woman across the river back there.” His friend, smiled rapidly to the Monk holding question, and gently put his hand upon his friends shoulder to stop their walk. Peering into his eyes, he replied, “My dear friend, I carried that woman across the river and put her down well over an hour ago; however, since then, I see you are still carrying her on your back. Let us rest a while, you must be exhausted!

I enjoy this story very much, because to me, it exposes with simplicity the multiple layers in reference to the topic of judgment while demonstrating the enormity of potential difficulty we (conscious or otherwise) incur when we judge others. Unknowingly, we ultimately wind up carrying their doings on our backs for as long as we hold onto whatever particular judgment (for whatever reasons) we’re attached to.

Observe how this may relate to yourself in the present moment with someone you work with. Perhaps with your partner or maybe consider how it demonstrated in a recent past situation. It doesn’t take long to realize that all of us carry around a lot of judgments about other individuals we know and many we don’t (how about the guy who cut you off on the freeway yesterday!) Similarly, political organizations, social groups and even inanimate objects are a “bulls eye” for us to fire the arrow of judgment at. When you think about it in this way, we just become more easily aware of how ominous the load can be!

But before we even approach the easiest target for this introspective exercise (the enormity of “how we judge ourselves,”) let’s look at how we viewed and continue to view, our parents. More precisely, ask the question of: are we holding onto judgments about how they did or didn’t perform they’re specific roles as Mom and Dad?

Most psychotherapists put this item in the top 5 as potential watersheds during therapy–and refer to this as a patients necessary exercise for the transcendence of consciousness in their process of healing. When appropriate, walking through this issue can unfortunately be painful, but at the same time, it can be extremely liberating. As Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity!”

A quick for instance: A woman I know was never able to cognicize (cognate and recognize) that she was schlepping around a heavy loaded “blame game” about her parents that in particular, had to do with her sexuality. She was in fact, an unhappy, angry Lesbian. Angry that she didn’t wind up like her sisters: “familied” and living the “American Dream” THAT she felt, left her out in the cold.
The stress and anger she unconsciously had toward her parents got acted out with almost everyone she encountered. Those who she allowed into her life (to be close with) were stricken with the weight of her pain and suffering in a multitude of unhealthy ways until finally, she was able to cross the river, put the load down, and release the chains that bound her.

Having the realization in therapy and then the ability to embrace the idea that her Mom and Dad did the best they could with the resources they had at that time, allowed her to finally release the bundles of blame-issues she had been carrying around most of her young adult life. She realized that this simple (albeit deep) judgment, held in the back of her mind, was preventing her from experiencing many of life’s delights (not unlike the monk who was holding onto his judgment for an hour.)

The very simple story and this real life example, shines a beam of light on a complex psychological issue that sometimes can evolve into becoming a vicious psychosis: that we all participate (at some level) in “demonizing with blame” those who raised us. However, when we begin to sit and take a breath, and give ourselves the time to watch how our mind really works, we then, and only then, are able to allow ourselves to receive the gift of unloading the heavy judgments we’ve been carrying around…making our own lives less burdensome and as a result, more joyous and loving.