Small Steps to Sudden Enlightenment

As we go through our daily lives we are constantly besieged by our own inner voice. With so many people we meet and situations we face, our inner voice is judging and condemning the different people and situations we encounter. From the fairly benign constant labeling, to the outright prejudicial stereotypes and aversions we have learned from our families and society, we are judging all the time.

From the inner monologue that fills our minds, many of us go further and are quick to openly criticize and put down our friends, colleagues and strangers for many things they do, say or even wear. Of course, to take this further, there are millions of people on this Earth that will kill or hurt you or placidly go along with your murder or assault because of the things you say, believe, do, or wear. This is where we are today in a world that is very quick to condemn and punish for differences and not so quick to live and let live.

Living a life of non-judgment and compassion does not mean one cannot recognize injustice, wrongdoing or ignorance. We should recognize these things and speak out against the acts, not condemn the doer. We should recognize the beauty and truth of the biblical phrase, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…" (John 8:7 KJV) We should never endeavor to take revenge on those who we perceive have wronged us. This is just setting us up for another cycle of violence and hatred. We must practice forgiveness and treat all people with compassion.

It is easy to treat our friends and those that treat us kindly with compassion, but the real test is treating with compassion those who have harmed us or those we do not like. At the central core of reality is the fact that all people are brilliant lights of God. We are all the same. We are brothers and sisters. We must see through the thin transparent differences in which we focus much of our attention. Things such as skin color, religion, and sexual orientation are simply Earthly things and are not reality. In many incarnations through many different lifetimes we have all donned the many pageants and veils of time. You may have been black in one life and Chinese in another and gay in one and white and Christian in another. So which one are you really? The truth is none of these are your essence. They are simply roles you are temporarily playing. By seeing deeper and realizing the unity of all God's creation you will lift your spirit and the spirit of all beings.

To see any kind of meaningful change in the world we cannot rely on governments or leaders. We must change ourselves at our core. If you bring the spirit of compassion, love and non-judgment to all people and situations, what a different world we would have. Try it for one day and see the effect it has. When someone cuts you off on the highway, instead of giving him or her the finger and cursing them, why not bless them and say a prayer for them? We can have compassion and try to see that perhaps they are having a very bad day, or they are late for work, or their wife is giving birth or they are so unhappy they are just not being very gracious on the roads. In bringing compassion to the situation, we are redirecting our thoughts of anger and making the world a better place.

By not judging people harshly we show our understanding that spirit is working in our lives and we are all where we are for a reason. Earth is like a school, and while some are in a high grade, others are still in a spiritual kindergarten. Age has nothing do with this and neither does the outer veil of religiosity or orthodoxy. In bending our own ego and need to be right all of the time, we will enable ourselves, as well as others, to gain the wisdom of the Earth school.

We also need to keep from judging ourselves too harshly and have self-compassion. As long as you are making an effort, do not condemn yourself for a slip up on your path. We all fall down at times, so simply get up and take the next step forward. Some people are their own worst enemies and constantly barrage themselves with criticism.

There are choices in this world at every step. There is a fork in the road for every thought, word, and action we take and through conscious choice of thoughts, words, and actions full of compassion, love and understanding our world can suddenly shift to a more enlightened and wonderful place.

David Weisner is a freelance writer in Staten Island.