Devices of Judgment

1359 Relax and Succeed - Thoughts are a good servant but a bad master

Our world was shaped by thoughts. Those thoughts get codified into social codes or guides or laws or through things like school grades, or peer pressure built around the concepts of popularity or acceptability.

Some of these devices are tangible things like step counters or gym weights or weigh scales. The pressure we feel in life is us trying to fit our natural shape into the predetermined forms these tools or ideas create.

The outcomes are somewhat predictable. Every code gets applied to every person equally, even though some people may never be athletic no matter how hard they try, and others may struggle academically in ways that do not reduce their value as a human being at all. But all of us will be judged by many people –most notable ourselves– for not being many things, as though we were supposed to have been them all.

The only way to escape is to be so far removed from those ‘tests’ that we get a free sympathy pass from society because we have one huge natural judgement running against us, like childhood cancer or deformities or severe mental challenges.

Some are seen to be so obviously struggling with what is obviously a heavier load that it’s a more definitive signal that knocks us out of our personal thinking. That jolt to our awareness ignites our compassion by so strongly exposing our good fortune.

That is a beautiful thing to do for others, and that is why people in those situations should be seen more like spiritual teachers in society. They elicit an essentially universal reaction that does expose our natural tendency as humans, which is decency, while also making us grateful, which is spiritually healthy. They’re monks in wheelchairs and in canes.

Where we can benefit from increased awareness is to realize that while some people have their suffering jammed into a generally narrower set of experiences, (like those of a severe autistic, or someone who is born without any limbs), others are also suffering badly, but with more general things like their weight, or their income, or the acceptability of their personality.

Because those feel like the problems of more common, so-called ‘normal’ people, we often don’t realize that those issues and people would also benefit from our awareness and decency. Smaller issues –even presumed– can pile up to the point where they can cripple our lives.

1359 Relax and Succeed - This scale does not

If we count steps or weigh ourselves for our health, it’s not to hit some numerical target. The point is to feel good and have a doctor feel that the weight –whatever it is– is in a range that respects our unique bodies. A healthy heart should be about getting more time with loved ones, not meeting the doctor’s target. We must love ourselves, not try to be someone for others.

Too many times something like a calorie app or a weigh scale are not simply weighing things in the physical world. Instead, they are drawing some abstract chalk outline onto the world and then asking us to fill it. It’s crazy. We weren’t supposed to become what an app said because the person who wrote it never met us. Nor the person who built the weight scale, and just because a hairstyle is popular does not mean it looks or feels good on us.

We suffer when others have generalized the individual us. And when we do that to ourselves as well, all we’re doing is using an abstract cultural whip to beat ourselves. It’s the opposite of spiritual awareness.

Can we really imagine someone going to the Buddha, or Moses or Jesus or Mohammad and having them tell the person their soul will find nirvana when they lose some weight? Or get a better haircut? Or a job that’s more respectable? Would Jesus tell us that we can give up now, because we were born gay, or in the wrong country, so nothing we could ever do could make us worthwhile?

It’s hard to imagine the Buddha saying, “Sara, you will find enlightenment but you must get your Thursday Tinder date to like you or your life will be an unhappy disappointment.”

Deep down you already know this is true. The people that love us don’t need us to be any particular way. Not a shape, or age, and they love the person that lived our experiences, even if they don’t always like some aspects of the personality that grew out of those experiences. They love the soul at our center –the being living all of that life. We should all love that person too.

What others think are merely individual experiences they are having inside their own heads. Those judgments don’t impact us at all if we don’t start thinking them in our heads.

If we saw a loved one beating themselves up terribly over their weight it would be heartbreaking because we would all know they are so much more than that dumb number. And that impulse is beautiful and natural. But enlightenment really comes when we learn to direct that compassion toward ourselves. Because only then will we free ourselves from the suffering we generate when we use our devices of judgment.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #21


401 Relax and Succeed - You've gotta have a little fun

A reader recently pointed out to me that I had strayed from my original mission with The Friday Dose. What was supposed to be a store-house of cool mind-grabbing things that could be used to pull you away from painful thought patterns, instead became just an external link version of more of the blog. True dat. And so with Dose #21 I’m going back to the original mission. Yes, some of those posts might still be about what the blog’s about, but overall it’s going to be designed to be purely fascinating so that you can use it as a tool when you want to shift your thinking. Rather than stopping the pain better to be starting the enjoyment. The Friday Dose will be here for you, providing a source of go-to mind absorbing details about the universe. Enjoy.

Now I’m a drummer, so it makes sense that I would be biased, but at the very least I think you might enjoy one of the Phil Collins solos that’s included in this post. It discusses one point that I’ve often made with other drummers. I find there’s a slavish dedication to a strange thing called perfect time that’s seen by many as a pinnacle. I don’t “count” as a drummer, and matching an external human-invented device like a clock seems a very odd connection to make when playing music. Why would we think something that comes from our soul would need to be squeezed through a time processor like a clock? That literally makes no sense to me. What’s wrong with a song’s rhythm or beat shifting? I would suggest that the fractal that shows up in human heart-rates seashells and flower petals is also present in music and that a good drummer gets in tune with that:

Science Shows Drummers Have Different Brains


Remember the lady who got millions suing McDonald’s because their coffee was hot? Remember how angry everyone was, and how much she was mocked? Well I want to use her here because here’s a great example of people passing around a myth and having strong and uniform judgments about it and yet virtually everyone is operating with nothing more than a smidgen of information about what actually happened. Well if you thought this lady won a frivolous suit, that’s because the news media thought the story would have more legs if they presented it in a way that upset you. That’s the stuff people talk about around the water cooler at work—and the news knows it. Because the real story was more complicated, and more interesting, and in it the little old lady was the most noble person in it:

The Real Lady Who Sued McDonald’s For Having Hot Coffee


I know what I believe I know. But since tons of science is constantly proven incorrect, we cannot even claim science as some solid unmoving ground from which we can review the world. Even science itself proved this principle. As we all know, we’ve been told to eat eggs, not eat eggs, eat eggs, not eat eggs… fat’s good for you, sugar’s bad, then sugar’s bad and fat’s good. And on it goes. So why argue with anyone when we know that neither of us knows for sure and we could both have been misinformed—as in the previous case with the little old lady from McDonald’s. How many untrue things have you lived presuming they were true? I know when I looked I had tons and tons of them. My debating with others seems hilarious to me now. It’s much more fun living in uncertainty than certainty:

What Fake Things Do You Believe In?


And let’s finish off with some Love. Some Mike Love. This doesn’t need words from me. It just needs your ears. This is some fine work. Enjoy:


Have a great weekend!

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!