Lately I’ve been thinking about the propensity we have to judge a book by its cover. I would venture to say that all of us do it to some extent. And while we don’t appreciate when we ourselves are judged unfairly we tend to naturally get caught up in the cycle of judging others just the same. An over occupation with how others see us (self-conciousness) is a direct result of how our own inner critic is forever comparing ourselves against everyone else. How we see and treat ourselves often translates to how we see and treat others.
It’s a somewhat natural process to judge someone by the way they look and behave and it’s not always a bad thing. At times our instincts may even be correct. However, a majority of the time we have little or no idea who someone else is simply by seeing, meeting, or even spending time with them.
From looking at someone we often cannot tell what ailments they have, from depression to chronic illness to unhealthy habits to past trauma to family dysfunction. We cannot see their mental landscape or what motivates them, what fears plague them or joys fill their heart. We cannot know the quality of their nature or merits of their actions. We can infer, we can hypothesize, we may even intuit accurately once in a while, but we can see only through our own lens accompanied by every experience we’ve ever had, saturated by our own dis-eases in the waters of our own self-evaluation. We are, by nature, biased.
Much damage can be done not through the judgement of others but by our words and actions that arise in tandem. The practices of the Eight Fold Path can be of support:
When we apply mindfulness to whatever it is we’re doing, thinking, or feeling we allow ourselves to become open to the possibility of transformation. May we practice to understand ourselves more clearly and, in turn, understand others more clearly as well.