Personal Tao - Chapter 39
Judgment is the Ultimate Trap
So many people live isolated and trapped by judgment. Too many souls live in constant pain from the whip of judgment.
When living in the trap of judgment, it’s hard to open up and trust other people. Talking with others stirs up more pain, blame and ultimately judgment.
This isn’t an easy trap to escape. Society judges us from birth. We learn how to self-judge ourselves from our earliest days. In school, children are often forced to be measured and then taught to hold themselves down. At work, arbitrary measures keep us trying to meet unrealistic quotas. In loneliness, we often keep ourselves disconnected from others: our judgment preventing us from seeing others or ourselves as someone worthy to be with in life. We each face countless layers of judgment in this modern world.
Judgment is a whip: fear and pain which lashes a person down.
Judgment is a cage: pressure and insecurity that binds a person down
So today’s lesson is this: learn to drop the whip and leave the cage behind.
You have to learn to release both parts of judgment. If you are living to judgment, you are not living your own life. A person in judgment will always be lonely and separate.
The two sides of Judgment
You will always run and hide if you let others scare you.
You will never break free if you live to false commitments and standards.
No one can come close to you if you always use the whip of judgment upon yourself!
No one will want to be close to you if you always use the whip of judgment upon them!
Erasing the Judgment Trap
People might think the answer is to erase the imaginary bars of the trap. That doesn’t work as it isn’t even a step ahead. You will find yourself still trapped in that cage. You are the one providing the energy to draw those very bars around you which means you will unconsciously keep drawing those bars as fast as you remove them.
The secret is this:
Imaginary bars are simply that: imaginary bars. Don’t give an imaginary cage any energy at all to be real.
Quite a bit of work I do is helping people step out of the cages of judgment. It’s a hard thing to do. When a person puts all their energy into those imaginary bars, they feel very real. Many times those imaginary bars will be backed by social pressure and real life commitments. Yet commitments are not always what they seem to be. In fact, many commitments a person has get distorted by others to fool you into staying trapped by your judgment.
Look at this drawing for inspiration. The girl isn’t in the cage at all. It’s external; she can walk away from that imaginary cage. The real-life artist of this picture did just that. She pushed away from the outside judgment, didn’t let it settle inside her and walked away to become an amazing artist.
You also can take gentle steps ahead. Release the judgment traps binding you down and begin the process of walking into your own true life.
Personal Tao - Chapter 39
Breaking Out of Prison
Strangely today two different friends sent me almost the same statement
The first was this statement:
My life feels so much like prison that many days it doesn’t feel that I will survive.
An hour later another friend sent me a request for help breaking out from their situation:
I feel like I need to hand in my resignation to my current job. Seeing that this sounds and seems crazy because I do not have anything lined up…that my spirit is being contained…
I will answer my friends more personally, but I would like to write about this to help people learn what it means to live in potential: by exploring what it means first to live by limitation.
What is a prison?
- A prison is a place of limitation. People and society create prisons to limit the potential of people placed in the prison.
Flip this statement around
- To limit oneself is to imprison oneself!
In this sense, whenever, we limit ourselves, it will feel like a prison. We imprison ourselves to meet expectations and obligations. How often do you tell yourself: Oh today I can’t do this because of… Or I have to work this job because I need to pay for my children’s needs.
It might all be for extremely valid reasons! But it still hurts the spirit to box it within limitation.
What further re-enforces this problem, our society has “limited” methods of exchange down to a very few systems, primarily money, to provide connection… (the results and whys are for a separate post) which further dampens the ability of people to release spiritual potential.
A limitation is a very human quality: animal’s don’t limit themselves, neither do children at first.
This is why Taoism teaches how to live life in potential not within limitation of form.
Another issue to consider is, we are alive and human. That means we all have edges and issues to work against. Every life has an edge to work against. But our edges can easily be defined as limitations. Once you make your issues and problems into a limitation, you imprison yourself and then hinder personal growth and healing.
- You see this true story told over and over again, how a person is defined by a disability, which at first limits them and then later they discover: the limitation is a lie, and then they exceed and go beyond everyone’s dream of potential.
So, in the end, the truth is this:
- Don’t limit yourself.
Easier said than done. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have countless self-help books and religions that exist to remind us of our great potential!
The simple answer is this:
- Have faith and trust in your heart
While I lead a very free life, I still “work” at jobs, to earn money to support children. Those jobs and how I earn money many times seemingly have limited me. I know at times I also have felt like being trapped in prison.
And then I smile, and release the walls, I go out and in kindness help my co-workers, I take time to exercise, to breath , to write poetry to release back into my potential.
For myself its a give and take process. I dive in to work and achieved what is required and then I shift back to heart and climb back out.
Ideally we would all work at the jobs which embolden our hearts, but the realities are, that isn’t always an option. And as I will show later, at times harder paths leads to greater potential.
It’s always possible to find a path around the limitation. It isn’t always easy; it isn’t always a short path.
The first important distinction is this.
When limitation is imposed rather than accepted, it will feel like a prison.
So the first tactic is acceptance. This becomes a dance: a personal dance between your heart and the reasons of limitation. This permits a person to discover the walls are merely tools. Edges for you to climb and then literally to be used to jump to different places. Ironically at times limitation can help lead to better results as they allow a person to see and discover life from a different perspective. You shouldn’t always view limitation as being bad. They can represent activated potentials to leverage and then create something better.
The second aspect to consider.
Often time’s limitations are externally placed by others to control you. This means it’s important for you to act on your own, not to expect others to free you.
For example, a person I know was asking why the government wasn’t thinking outside the box to fix the current financial problems the United States is facing. The reasons are very simple; the government is using the box to control everything. You won’t see the powers controlling government thinking outside the box because they made the box to hold us in the first place.
To think outside of the box is to think outside of falsely defined limits placed on us. As a result, don’t expect someone from the outside to release you. Take the time to discover your path out of any box you have found yourself trapped inside of. This is why the first quote of my book reads:
Science is fact
Religion is faith
Magic is perception
Know these boundaries to discover what lies beyond.
We each use a mixture of fact, faith and perception to find our way around limitations placed in our life.
Now, this is just a start of a process to find freedom. The true secret is: this is a path of heart. The heart represents a connection to the larger world, and in connecting to the larger world, it becomes possible to remove the limitations we have had.
If you feel life has been limited, then begin something new. Always experiment and try practices like Yoga, Qi Gong, Martial arts, etc. to enliven the spirit. It may sound too simple, but many times something simple like this is enough to open up new possibilities to explore from.
One last thing
A limitation is the removal of potential: to take away what it possible.
Don’t forget to smile, to laugh. To smile is always to open up possibility and potential. I have said it before in this blog and will say it again, the smile is one of the most important practices any person can learn and embrace in their life.
Look at any comedian, and you will find a person who uses humor to turn their life around.
The Problem with Real Prisons
Back in 2008, I saw this headline which captured my attention: 1 in 100 adults now in prison.
I worked for Drug Addiction and abuse treatment services for a little while. I assisted in a research and prevention project. The project showed from the data: That for every dollar spent on education or prevention programs, the state saved 10 dollars in treatment services. It then showed for every dollar spent on treatment services; the state saved 10 dollars from legal and prison costs.
In many states, the prison/corrections budget has exceeded education by a large amount. The real-life results show and prove the education budget should be ten times greater than the correctional budget for an effective balance of social spending.
More fundamentally, the problem is deeper, being rooted in everyday lifestyles. In doing nothing meaningful, by being comfortable, by pushing one’s choices out from the home to larger social systems, by not working locally with others. Our society removes personal freedom. I am saying this partly because our research also showed an additional surprising truth: the programs and education which worked the best (by a factor of 10 to 1) were the small local programs with active community participation. The larger, more generic programs didn’t nearly improve things to the same effect as acting locally.
So the truth is:
To make a difference isn’t: waiting for government to change or by creating large scale “solutions”. Instead changing personal & local activities to pro-actively live in kindness, working directly with the local community becomes the true force of 80% of the change. The small and local oriented changes are the ones which would make the largest difference in improving the problems we have with the United States correctional system.
In the history of Taoism:
Taoism always concentrates on the local community, on personal choices we each have and in being kind to each other.
While people might focus on the high profile items such as The Yellow Emperor, Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching or other high profile works or figures. This only represents a minor part of Taoist history.
The majority of Taoist history is not even recorded as the majority of Taoist action occurs at the local or personal level of effort. Not many pay attention to the little acts, the helping of each other. Yet enough shrines and occasional scribbled notes of such kindness remain, enough to show us: that is indeed where the heart of the teachings in Taoism reside. Taoism ignores most of its contributions on purpose! The ideal is to let go of ego and be a part of the larger universe.
Taoism resides centrally to the actions of the heart!
Living this way isn’t easy, which is why when given a choice many people opt for comfort. But a Taoist lifestyle does improve and increase the wealth of experience a 1,000 fold.
The reason we live is to experience life. Taoism is about acting to what you want to be and making life an experience worth expressing. Kindness is core to Taoist philosophy.
When people first learn about Taoism, they assume it is a selfish teaching. However, Taoism is the most selfless religion or philosophy around. The whole practice is to let go of ego and to be part of the universal essence.
To release others from prison, to be kind and help a person be of their essence, reflects on helping a person be part of the universal essence of the Tao. So Taoism believes not in prison systems, but in kindness and helping others along in their path.
Try it one day, instead of lashing out or trying to dictate how someone should be, try helping a person along with some kindness. You might be surprised how much you end up helping yourself and making the world a better place.