meditators is learning how to be judicious without being judgmental.
An as a preliminary step to developing that skill, it's good to
reflect on the difference beween the two.
Being judgmental is basically an effort to get rid of something we
don't understand and probably don't want to understand. We see
something we don't like and we try to dismiss it, to stamp it out
without taking the time to understand it. we're impatient. Whatever
we're being judgmental about, we just want to get rid of it quickly.
Being judicious, however, requires patience together with
undestanding. A judicious choice is one you've made after
understanding all the options, all the sides of a question. That way
your choice is based on knowledge, not on greed, aversion, or
The problem with being judgmental is that it's not effective. We try
to stamp out things here and they go springing up someplace else.
Being judicious, though, is more effective. It's more precise. We see
what's really skillful, what's really unskillful in the mind, and we
learn how to disentangle the two. Often our skillful and unskillful
habits get entangled. The things we don't like within ourselves
actually do have some good in them, but we don't notice it. We focus
instead on what we don't like, or what we're afraid of, and we end up
trying to stamp it all out, the good along with the bad.
So this is why we meditate: to step back a bit, to watch things
patiently so that we can see them for what they are and deal with them
effectively. Our concentration practice gives us a comfortable center
in our awareness where we can rest, where we feel less threatened by
things. When we feel less threatened and less oppressed, we have the
resilience to be more patient, to look into what's going on in the
mind, and to develop the proper attitude toward what is skillful and
One of the main problems in modern life is that people have so little
time. When they meditate, they want to cram as much of their
meditation as possible into their little bits and pieces of spare
time. Of course that aggravates the whole problem of bing judgmental.
So keep reminding yourself that meditation is a long-term project.
When you have a sense of that long arc of time, it's a lot easier to
sit back and work very carefully at the basic steps. It's like
learning any skill.
Thanissaro Bhikku, "Meditations"