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What If…

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Don’t you hate it when you can’t exactly remember something and online searches are fruitless?  OK, let’s see if I can sum this up and make sense.

About a decade or so ago, I saw Ben Affleck on a talk show (some fun thing on cable, perhaps HBO).  I don’t remember the host so I can’t find the appearance.  Ben said that he had recently read something by the Dalai Lama encouraging people to try to go a whole day without judging anything or anyone.  And then Ben laughed and said his first thought was ‘that’s a dumb idea’ and he instantly failed the exercise.

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It was such a great idea to me, though.  I’ve spent much of the time since then catching myself in judgment and often wondering where it comes from.  I know that life has no inherent meaning, only that which we give it.  I know that right and wrong are only human constructs.  The Universe is pretty neutral on the concept.  So how did we get here?

By here, I mean the place where people sit in judgment about so much in life.  Sometimes the judgments are quite harsh, and even lead to getting into fights over disagreements about how something should be judged (religion, politics, fandom, ad nauseum).

What if we stopped for just a day?  Hell, just one hour.  What would that provide?

If you know anything about judgment, you know that it’s mostly programmed.  You’ve never had an original thought in your life.  It’s all coming from the past and it’s informed by all the hard-wiring in your head.  If you have judgments about other races or genders or even the flavor of foods, do you really think that originated with you in that moment?  Have you ever taken any time to ponder why you judge something positively or negatively ever?

Your judgments come from your parents, your peers, your environment, your education, your TV consumption, your religious affiliation, your past experiences, et al.  Can you really be with another person or in a new situation without making any assessments, assumptions or bringing any expectations to it?  Highly doubtful.  It’s just how were programmed.

But there is freedom in recognizing and subverting our programming.  And I’m encouraging you to give it a try.  What if you saw something you never noticed before by coming in completely empty to each and every encounter?  Can you dig it?

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