“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction
is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please,
or worse, to avoid trouble…”
– Mahatma Gandhi
There is an intelligence that knows to not keep its hand in a flame. There is no war, no dramatic struggle between the hand and the flame, between right and wrong, between good and evil, between light and dark, between God and the devil, between duality and nonduality, just an intelligent and spontaneous movement, a pulling-away of the hand, without a story. The hand never judges the flame, before, during or after the movement. When it gets too hot, it simply pulls itself out without thought. No war. No judgement. No psychological division. Just effortless action. This is a YES to life, a total alignment with the way things are, even though from the outside it might seem to be a “no” to the flame.
Judgement, unlike discernment, always divides, and it is always about ‘me’ in time and space. It is about holding ‘me’ up as superior or putting ‘me’ down as inferior. It is about comparison between two seemingly separate life entities. Judging that the flame is wrong or bad or sick or evil, making myself good and pure and holy and the innocent victim, making war with the flame, telling endless stories about how awful the flame is, trying to get others to support your story, is all the judgement mechanism. It separates ‘me’ from life itself, and the war begins, with its battle between right on one side, and wrong on the other. It comes from an internal “no” to life.
There can be honest and intelligent discernment, without the war, without the story, without the involvement of thought. The hand pulls itself out of the flame, without ever making the flame into its mortal enemy, without ever having to repeat the story of how evil the flame was, without carrying around a story of how badly it was burnt, without identity being involved at all. It doesn’t need the Ten Commandments to tell it why flames are wrong. It learns its lessons without drama, without karma, without separation, without war. It is like a young child, playing on a swing, falling off, cutting his or her knee, crying for a few moments, then getting on with the serious business of playing, becoming absorbed in life once again. The child will probably even forget that they fell off the swing. Karma is neither created nor destroyed. And they may learn to be more attentive while swinging…
Judgement says “this is good, that is bad”, “I am right, they are wrong”, “I am awakened, they are not”, and so on, ad infinitum. It separates and divides, and it is the origin of all conflict and violence.
Discernment simply knows what hurts and what doesn’t, and moves intelligently and spontaneously to resolve things without resorting to violence or name-calling, and without the need to be told what is right and what is wrong. And then it moves on to the next adventure…
Where does discernment end and judgement begin? That is the fascinating exploration for all of us.