Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher once said:
When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it…. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.1
Our mind, left unmonitored on autopilot, automatically judges other people. And not just others, but especially ourselves. What is the alternative to this constant judgment? Complete acceptance. What a lovely example of that acceptance Ram Dass gives – simply observing trees. You allow them to be what they are – bent, straight, whatever. You let them be without judging them, and you appreciate them for what they are.
In Sant Mat, our ultimate goal is to live in God’s will. To be able to live in God’s will means that we should not be judgmental – not of other people, not of ourselves, nor even of situations. Intellectually we understand that God is all-knowing and all-powerful; therefore all that happens is his will and is therefore good. As Great Master put it, “Take for granted that all that has happened is happening or will happen, is with His will.”2
Maharaj Charan Singh has said that living in God’s will means becoming receptive to the grace of the Lord and accepting our destiny smilingly. This is how he describes being receptive to God’s will:
To be receptive to the Father’s love in our everyday lives, to accept whatever he gives us unconditionally – without hesitation, without sitting in judgment over it. To accept with gratitude what he gives, because he never does any wrong. When you are not there, then who’s to judge what is wrong and what is right? The realization will come to us that we don’t exist – only he exists. Whatever comes from him, we accept with cheerfulness, with gratitude. We don’t even differentiate between what is good and what is bad because the one who differentiates doesn’t exist anymore. We have merged into the Father.3
Ram Dass’s quote on not judging gives us a glimpse into what living in God’s will might be like. Imagine truly letting everything just be – just pure acceptance and appreciation. What a wonderful, peaceful way to live that would be. Why is it easy to let trees just be the way they are but so difficult to allow other people to be who they are are? What is judgment anyway? Here’s what Hazur has to say about it:
We judge others when we think we are superior and other people are inferior to us. We think we are much better human beings and they are an inferior type of human being…. Naturally the purpose of meditation is to eliminate the ego. When you are able to eliminate the ego, then you don’t think you are superior at all…. Then you start realizing what your real self is, your insignificance. When that realization comes, we don’t see humans at all, we see his light in every human. We become humble before the Father.4
Maharaj Sawan Singh explains how the saints never judge us. They look past our outer condition and see only our inner spiritual potential, our true self.
A perfect Master can, with a single glance, find out one's inner condition. He then instructs us according to our condition. When anyone visits him he can see the visitor's inner condition as if that person were encased in transparent glass, but he keeps it a secret.5
The Shabd is in all. When we direct our consciousness within and realize the Shabd, we begin to understand the folly of self and the oneness of everything. We begin to comprehend that everything is God’s will – that all is exactly as it is supposed to be. That understanding becomes complete when our consciousness goes beyond the mind, when we can escape the separate, sad, lonely world of the self and see the Lord inside us and everyone.
What freedom that will be! Total acceptance. Total appreciation. Total love.
Until then, let’s enjoy the trees. And turn within to the One who is smoothing our path home: “The moment He considers it the fit time to give, He will give; He is waiting for you at the eye focus and is making the path smooth for you.”6
- www.ramdass.org. "On Judging Yourself Less Harshly"
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, The Dawn of Light, Letter 64
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #294
- Ibid., #319
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, p.250
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, The Dawn of Light, Letter 66