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Sunday Service Discussion Notes for October 14 and October 21, 2012

For two weeks we discussed the subject of Judgment, as we referred to chapter 6 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

We started off our discussion reading from Perceptions, and one passage called out the differences between Judgment and Discernment:

“Your judgments could have nothing to do with the truth, they are just your judgments. The most important of all is the “Last Judgment.” You will look back at your life and see what you have or have not done with that life. All the judgments you have placed on others will stand before you and by those judgments you will be judged. It is written, “Judge not and you will not be judged.”

Discernment, on the other hand, is a gift of the Spirit. It allows you to know where YOU should or should not identify yourself without needing the belief that someone different is wrong. You judge whether an experience or a thing is right or wrong for you without thinking or saying what is right or wrong for another.”

We talked about how we often find ourselves suffering from the Why-can’t-everyone-be-like-me? disease, and how this can cause us to judge others when they don’t think and act like we do. We discussed that while it can be frustrating and even upsetting if others do not think or act like us, that the alternative, which would be to have everyone thinking and acting alike, would be even less desirable. As Damien stated, “If twelve people think alike, eleven are unnecessary.”

Many people noted that it was sometimes easier for us to judge those who are closest to us. We felt that this may be due to the greater influence on our feelings caused by our loved ones. When we care deeply for a person, our interactions with them are more intense, and therefore when they take an action that harms themselves or the relationship, we judge more quickly because we have more at stake in this situation than we would have with an acquaintance or a stranger.

We agreed that we were less likely to make blanket judgments about others if we have knowledge of the other person’s situation and history, interaction with the other person, and empathy for them. We saw that stereotyping people can be an easy way out – it is simpler for our minds to place people into broad, clean categories, than it is for us to really get to know someone.

We may judge others based on unrelated past events, creating a false correlation in our minds, whether consciously or not. One example given involved people’s names. We may have a bad experience with someone, and then in the future, we may meet another person with that same name as the original transgressor, and already have a bad taste in our mouth for a new person that we barely know, due to the association of negative experiences with their name. Much like stereotypes (mentioned above), our mind may decide, “If one person with this name/age/religion is that way, they are all that way.”

It is best, we said, to simply enjoy what we experience with and learn from another person. We should not demand or expect, but see them as another human working through their shortcomings, good or bad. In this way we won’t miss the good that could come from a so-called “bad” person, or be disappointed from expectations not met from a so-called “good” person. A quote was shared from The Nature of Personal Reality, A Seth Book by Jane Roberts, that advises us to consider that our fellow human beings are each contending with their own issues:

“Your own consciousness is embarked upon a reality that basically can be experienced by no other, that is unique and untranslatable, with its own meaning, following its own paths of becoming. You share an existence with others who are experiencing their own journeys in their own ways, and you have journeying in common, then. Be kind to yourself and your companions.”

Our judgments of others are useless because they come from our own personal experience of reality, and the reality of another person inherently cannot be the same as ours. What is real for us is not real for them. We can only judge what is right and good for ourselves, not for others.

We also noted that our judgments of others can reflect what we fear or hate about ourselves. What do we hope to gain from judging others? A sense of greater self-worth? Judgment is an action that harms both parties. We harm ourselves by limiting our perspective, but how do we harm others? We should ask ourselves, how do we feel when we are judged? We agreed that when we are judged that we feel stressed out, afraid, and worried. So when we judge others, we must be aware that we are now the cause of another person experiencing those negative feelings.

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We talked about the ways that our behavior can be affected by our fear of being judged by others. The story of The Emperor’s New Clothes stood out as a good example – we all recalled the emperor, so ashamed that he was not able to see the clothes, as he was told by the fraudulent “tailors” that the cloth was invisible to stupid people, that he chose to walk through town naked for fear that he would seen as stupid if he admitted that he could not see his new garments. The same happened to his ministers and even the townsfolk; they feared to speak out, lest others think they were stupid as well. Finally, a child, too young to understand judgment, cried out that the emperor was naked, and this caused crown to begin to admit that they too, saw nothing, cementing the emperor’s humiliation before everyone. To what lengths will we go because we are afraid of being judged?

We agreed that we will all be judged. The question is: what do we do when we this happens? Will we allow ourselves to be molded by society, family, coworkers, or friends because of this judgment? Because of expectations of what the norm should be? What is normal, anyway? We decided that when we are judged, we should try to use the situation as a learning experience – to teach us about other people, and to grow ourselves.

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