Discrimination vs. Judgment



I have recently been through many life changes, lost my job, husband cheating, divorce, moving etc. I am trying to embrace the change and not judge. The challenge I am having is that now that I am getting out more and meeting new people, I tend to think good of everyone and the result is I am getting hurt more often that I would like. How do you balance the love for others and the reality that not everyone acts with love toward others?

thank you


—Mary, USA


Dear Mary:

What is missing in your understanding is the difference on the spiritual path between “discrimination” and “judgment.”

Judgment involves an emotional reaction to things as they are; discrimination sees the truth but remains calm and impersonal about it.

To judge someone is to make yourself responsible for another person’s spiritual wellbeing, and to make your happiness dependent on how that person behaves.

To discriminate is simply to see things as they are. On this planet there are people of many different levels of spiritual refinement. One reason we incarnate here is to learn how to discriminate between that which draws us upward toward God, and that which draws us away from the light into suffering.

We learn from our own experiences and also from observing other people’s behavior. All of life is a classroom.

You say you “tend to think good of everyone,” but since, as you say the result is that you are “getting hurt more often than [you] would like,” obviously you are not using your discrimination.

Discrimination helps you understand how to respond appropriately. If someone is selfish, unkind, or out to take advantage of you, to let them go ahead and do it, hurts you, and it hurts them, because it reinforces in them their bad tendencies. What is the good in that?

The goal of life is not to “think good of everyone.” The goal of life is to perceive Truth.

Truth, however, is multi-leveled. On the highest plane, everyone is a child of God. And on that level, deserves love and respect.

At the same time, however, when a child of God misbehaves, you have to respond appropriately. A mother disciplines her child, not because she doesn’t love him, but because she does. To indulge a child and allow his bad qualities free rein can ruin him for life. Is that love?

When you see that someone does not have your best interests at heart, don’t put yourself – and him – in jeopardy by pretending it is not happening. You don’t have to judge, you don’t have to hate. Just calmly and firmly behave appropriately.

As Sri Yukteswar says, “Saintliness is not dumbness! Divine perceptions are not incapacitating! The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.”

It takes willpower to develop in this way. But once you begin to apply yourself to living in the truth, life becomes extremely interesting. You get a “God’s eye view” of people and the world – loving, but realistic.

Is this easy? No. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. In fact, it is the only path to happiness.


Nayaswami Asha