One of the most important lessons the mystic learns is that he or she cannot judge other people. Yes, we’re all taught not to judge others as children, but the reason we’re given is based on the fact judging others can be hurtful. While there is a good reason not to be “judgmental” there are even more profound reasons the mystic comes to appreciate this mandate. Judgment is a vailed exercise in control and separation. The mystic knows one cannot control things nor be separated from the rest of the world to grow spiritually. There are mystical traditions that emphasize control and separation, but the Christian tradition does not believe these are the keys to a deeper relationship with God. Christian mystics are not gurus sitting on mountains away from the rest of the world developing special powers. They are men and women connected to the rest of humanity who must trust God with everything. Judging people separates you from them and gives you a false sense of control. Stephen Rossetti writes this in regards to the controlling nature of judging others:
“The first step in this process of letting go of control is seemingly simple: do not judge. An early and essential step in the mystic journey is to stop judging others and, eventually, to stop judging oneself. This judging is our way of labeling, controlling, and demeaning. Instead, we must begin the process of trying to stop thinking and controlling everything. We must simply allow things to be.”
When we no longer judge we engage reality in its most raw form. Not judging doesn’t mean being content or accepting of how things are, rather it causes us to engage reality as it is in order to understand God in a deeper way. I can know I’m a sinful human being. Yet, I suspend judging myself for being that very thing in order to understand the mystery of my redemption more clearly. I don’t have to accept my sinful state as being “okay”, only know it’s truly what I am and keep myself from rationalizing it away to protect my fragile ego. I can accept the fact God loves me and draws me closer to him even though I am a profound sinner. There is nothing I do to control the situation; it flows from God’s initiative and is completely controlled by him. If I keep from judging these theological truths, I can have a deeper appreciation for what grace is and enter into its very mystery.
Rosetti also touches on the way judging others invites us into a world of division. We can’t be connected to those we judge; they are different from us. This division even includes self-judgment. When we judge ourselves, we disown parts of who we are. When we invite a world of division into reality, we accept an illusion that distorts the unified nature of reality. Rosetti writes:
“Each time we judge others we separate ourselves from them. We wound our inner selves and we step back from really “touching” and “tasting” the truth. Ultimately, we step back from touching and tasting God.”
The mystic learns to refrain from judging others, oneself, God, and the way things should be to enter into the mystery of the divine presence in the hear and now. Too often we run from reality by judging it and separating ourselves from it. However, when we enter into raw reality, we encounter its very source, a God who waits for those he loves to enter into the mystery that is his triune life.