The Mystery of Judgment
Some may question the idea of associating judgment with mystery and wonder where is the mystery in it. After all, isn’t judgment pretty cut and dry? Isn’t this something we are just supposed to avoid and that is pretty much all there is to it?
It is not quite that simple. Yes, there are some passages in ACIM that make it sound like the rejection of judgment should be an easy black and white thing, but then there are others telling us that judgment can be a good thing. As usual to understand what the Course is really saying we have to look at the whole rather than the isolated part.
The most famous statement from Jesus concerning judgment is not in A Course in Miracles but the Bible. He said this:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
Often these are all the words of Jesus on the subject that people focus on and do not realize that Jesus explained what he meant right afterwards saying:
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matt 7:1-2
Instead of saying point blank that all judgment is bad he was telling us how the law of cause and effect plays out when we do judge. The way we judge will produce an effect that will come back to us. If we judge benevolently or harshly we will wind up being judged the same way by others.
Because erroneous and harsh judgment can come back to haunt us he advised this: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:24
We seem to have the same problem in understanding judgment in A Course in Miracles as from the Bible. For instance, if we read this passage we may figure that all judgment is bad and to be avoided:
“God’s teachers do not judge. To judge is to be dishonest, for to judge is to assume a position you do not have. Judgment without self-deception is impossible. Judgment implies that you have been deceived in your brothers.” M-4.III.1
Then it says something like this that puts quite a different spin on the subject:
“Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings, for this is the one right use of judgment. Judgment, like any other defense, can be used to attack or protect; to hurt or to heal. The ego should be brought to judgment and found wanting there. Without your own allegiance, protection and love, the ego cannot exist. Let it be judged truly and you must withdraw allegiance, protection and love from it.” T-4.IV.8.
A key sentence here is, “Judgment, like any other defense, can be used to attack or protect; to hurt or to heal.”
Again, the student must step back and look at the whole meaning the Course is trying to put forward on this subject. When this is discovered then that which seemed to be contradictory seems complementary instead.
To understand judgment we must first define it. This is especially necessary because ACIM puts a different interpretation on it than is held in common usage for most dictionaries give a definition like this one:
“An opinion that you have after thinking carefully about something or your ability to understand a situation well and make good decisions.”
The Course defines it in a more negative light, especially in how we use it in relation to our brothers:
“Evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgment always involves rejection. It never emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived.” T-3.VI.2
This seems to be the meaning the Course attaches to judgment unless stated otherwise, but this is just one aspect of judgment, something we can call the negative aspect. The positive aspect does not involve rejection and exclusion, but acceptance and inclusion. For instance, you may meet people you like and make a judgment that they would be fun to spend time with. Or perhaps you made a judgment that ACIM is good material and you should study it. These are judgments of acceptance and inclusion.
Some think we should avoid all judgments but consider how impossible that would be for even a couple hours. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning you have to make a judgment as to whether to get right up or stay in bed a few more minutes. When you shower you make a judgment as to how hot the water will be and how long you will be in there. When you eat breakfast you have to make a judgment on what will best satisfy you. When you drive to work and approach a yellow light you have to make a judgment as to whether to go for it or be cautious and stop. By noon you will have made hundreds of small judgments.
It may be that when we return to heaven that judgments of any kind will not be necessary, but to function here in this world they are a necessity, even for advanced ACIM students.
The Course doesn’t say much about mundane and necessary judgments we use to function but in most cases it is referring to a negative assessment of our fellow men and women. It particularly discourages us from judging others to be sinners or bad people in the traditional sense. Any judgment where you see a brother as morally inferior to yourself just takes us further into the illusion. Because “we were created as equals” (T-5.II.9) and since it is the “perfect equality of giver and receiver on which the miracle rests” (T-1.II.6) it is necessary that one member of the Sonship not judge another to be inferior, or even superior for that matter for “Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality.” T-1.II.3
Now inequality concerning a skill is another matter. If you have never skied and join a class it would be insane to think you are equal in skill to your instructor. But you can see yourself as equal in potential and that would make sense. The key to the correct use of judgment is to avoid the ones concerning inferiority that lead to shame and guilt.
Another category that the Course tells us we should avoid is where a correct judgment is impossible because we do not know all the facts. It asks:
“Remember how many times you thought you knew all the “facts” you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were!” M-10.4
Because we rarely know all the facts in a situation, “It is surely good advice to tell you not to judge what you do not understand. No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be.” T-12.I.5
It then tells us why making accurate judgments on our own is so difficult:
“In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come. One would have to recognize in advance all the effects of his judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself?” M-10.3
This gives a clue as to why it is such an egregious error to make negative judgments on our brothers and sisters, especially where we condemn them in any way. The problem is that when we judge another we are only going by a small slice of his life. We are unaware of all the struggles he has gone through, the bad relationships, the frustrations and other negative things he may have had to endure. But the biggest factor usually left out is that every brother, no matter how much in error he seems to be, is a Son of God at the very core of his being and this divine life can surface when judgment is suspended and forgiveness extended.
Since we humans are so bad at making judgments one may wonder how we can possibly function in the world. We have to make some judgments, but we do not want to be wrong all the time.
Again the Course comes to the rescue and tells us how we can make accurate judgments.
“We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts.” T-6.V.C.1
A key thought expressed here is that the Holy Spirit “sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there.”
He can do this accurately because, “He does know all the facts; past, present and to come. He does know all the effects of His judgment on everyone and everything involved in any way. And He is wholly fair to everyone, for there is no distortion in His perception.” M-10.4
That sounds great, does it not? We all have a source of infinite intelligence so the judgments we do make can be accurate. How do we go about accessing this great source? The answer given may be said to be an act of faith:
“And so I give all judgment to the One You gave to me to judge for me. He sees what I behold, and yet He knows the truth.” W-pII.347.1
The answer is quite simple. We first realize how flawed our own judgment is, especially when judging others, and then we give judgment over to the Holy Spirit. This may be easier said than done for we are told “It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and no other. It takes effort and great willingness to learn.” T-5.II.3
It takes effort and great willingness because the Voice of the Holy Spirit is often called the “still small voice,” and it takes a lot of focus and willingness to listen and follow before a sure connection is made. He is called our “link with God,” where “perception will become so changed and purified that it will lead to knowledge.” W-pI.43.1
The trouble is that all who think they are guided by the inner Voice do not put forth the “effort and great willingness” to remove the veils of communication and in this case the ego is happy to step in and be the substitute voice of the Holy Spirit.
It is obvious that all who claim to be guided by God or the Holy Spirit are not all connected to the same source as many disagree with each other. Egos will disagree with the Holy Spirit as well as other egos, but those who listen to the inner voice and truly hear it will not disagree with each other on issues related to oneness.
“Because He (Christ) hears one Voice, He cannot hear a different answer from the one He gave when God appointed Him His only Son.” T-31.II.7
“It is His (the Holy Spirit’s) holy function to accept them both, and by removing every element of disagreement, to join them into one. He will do this because it is His function. Leave, then, what seems to you to be impossible, to Him Who knows it must be possible because it is the Will of God.” T-15.VIII.6
There are indeed a plethora of teachers out there claiming to speak for God. How do you tell who is speaking the truth when so many disagree?
The responsibility lies on each individual seeker. He must make his own valid connection with the Holy Spirit. Then he can recognize that same spirit in another who has that same connection. When two or more give judgment to the Spirit their judgment will agree.
The Course sums it up well in this quote:
“If you will lay aside the ego’s voice, however loudly it may seem to call, if you will not accept its petty gifts that give you nothing that you really want; if you will listen with an open mind, that has not told you what salvation is; then you will hear the mighty Voice of truth, quiet in power, strong in stillness, and completely certain in Its messages.
“Listen, and hear your Father speak to you through His appointed Voice, which silences the thunder of the meaningless, and shows the way to peace to those who cannot see. Be still today and listen to the truth. Be not deceived by voices of the dead, which tell you they have found the source of life and offer it to you for your belief. Attend them not, but listen to the truth.” W-pI.106.1-2
The ego offers many “petty gifts” to distract seekers away from the true voice, but the successful student must ignore them and keep his mind steady in the light that comes from the one mind of God.
We’ll end this chapter by shedding light from ACIM on that mysterious subject pursued by many Bible students called the “Last judgment.” Many Bible believers see this as a future time when God will call forth all souls to stand before Him to be sternly judged as to whether they will go to heaven or hell. The Course gives us a different interpretation on this.
For one thing it says that “Judgment is not an attribute of God. It was brought into being only after the separation, when it became one of the many learning devices to be built into the overall plan.”
So, if the last judgment does not involve God judging us where then comes the judgment?
It comes from none other than ourselves.
So what is it we are to judge?
We are to eventually re-establish ourselves in our right mind and correctly judge our creations.
And what creations are these?
Before the separation we participated in right-minded eternal creations with God. Then after the separation we lost the awareness of who we are and participated in wrong-minded creations that were temporary and not eternal. In the last judgment we become aware of our true identity and make a judgment as to which type of creation in which we will participate. Our last judgment will be when we arrive home and continue the process of eternal creation in extending the universe of God.
The Course sums it up this way:
“The Last Judgment might be called a process of right evaluation. It simply means that everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. After this, the ability to choose can be directed rationally… Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good. At this point, the mind can begin to look with love on its own creations because of their worthiness. At the same time the mind will inevitably disown its miscreations which, without belief, will no longer exist.” T-2.VIII.3-4
Read the Introduction HERE, Read Chapter One HERE. Chapter Two HERE, Chapter Three HERE, Chapter Four HERE, Chapter Five HERE Chapter Six HERE, Chapter Seven HERE, Chapter Eight HERE, Chapter Nine HERE, Chapter Ten HERE, Chapter Eleven HERE, Chapter Twelve HERE, Chapter Thirteen HERE, Chapter Fourteen HERE, Fifteen HERE, Sixteen HERE, Seventeen HERE, Eighteen HERE, Nineteen HERE, Twenty HERE, Twenty-One HERE
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