Open Heart Extra - On Judging Yourself Less Harshly



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I think that part of [less self judgment] is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image:

When you go into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees… and some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens and some of them are – whatever. And you look at the tree, and you just – allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is, you sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way, and you don’t get all emotional about it, you just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that, and you’re constantly saying, “You’re too this,” or “I’m too this,” or – that judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are.

There was a period of time where I used to have a picture of myself on my puja table, and people would come in and say, “My God, what an ego this guy’s got; he’s got his own picture on his puja table.” But really, what it was, was a chance for me to practice opening my heart to myself, and to appreciate the predicament I’m in. And it’s finding a place in yourself from which you see the unfolding of it all. That Mother did this, and Dad did this, drugs did this, Maharajji did this – all of it is just an unfolding of a storyline, a drama. The Ram Dass story. There he is. How will it come out? How did it come out? You’re just sort of watching the stories unfold.

But at the same time, it’s nothing to do with me, because I’m not that. That’s just a set of phenomena happening. And when you look at yourself as a set of phenomena, what is there to judge? Is that flower less than that? It’s just being different than that. You begin to appreciate your uniqueness without it being better or worse, because it’s just different. Cultivating an appreciation of uniqueness rather than preference is a very good one.

It’s just when you get inside identification with your personality that you get into the judging mode, because then you are a part of that lawful unfolding. You’re not stepping outside of it all. The witness, or the spacious awareness, is outside of it. It’s another contextual framework.

-Ram Dass

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