Nonjudgement is a key practice in The Way of the Hero, the first of four insights that were carefully guarded by the ancient medicine men and women of the Americas. These Earthkeepers used their mastery of the insights to heal disease, eliminate emotional suffering, and grow new bodies that age and die differently.
The first insight is called The Way of the Hero because the most effective healers recognize that they were once deeply wounded themselves, and as a result of their own healing, they’ve developed compassion for others who are hurting. Who better than someone who has “been there, done that,” to help others let go of judgments and labels… and focus on healing.
To practice nonjudgement, we must transcend our limited beliefs, even those concerning our ideas about right and wrong. We make sense of the world by judging situations as right, wrong, good, or bad, according to rules defined by our culture, which we know as our moral code. But an Earthkeeper is amoral — note that they are not immoral, they simply are not ruled by mores. They believe that it’s important to let go of these sorts of judgements and maintain their ability to discern.
When we practice nonjudgement, we refuse to automatically go along with the opinions of others. In doing so, we begin to acquire a sense of ethics that transcends the mores of our time. This is especially important in a society that is constantly bombarded with images of reality filtered through an ever-present electronic media, where our values — liberty, freedom, love, and the like — are reduced to sound bites and empty platitudes. When we refuse to collude with the consensual, we gain a different perspective. We discover what freedom means to us, personally — and that it is more than being able to choose a particular car in a sales lot or meal from a menu.
Our judgements are assumptions that are based on what we’ve learned and been told. For example, most of us collude with the belief that cancer is always a deadly disease, so if our doctor says we have it, we become terrified. Yet, when we practice nonjudgement, we reject the automatic belief that this means we are going to have to battle for our life. We don’t label our chances of survival as good or bad, or rate our recovery in terms of percentages, because that would be turning our fate over to statistics. Instead, we deal with the problem from the highest level of perception we can. We allow ourselves to embrace the unknown, along with its unlimited possibilities.
I have personal knowledge of several instances where a cancer diagnosis delivered on one day was found to be mistaken days later, after the would-be patient privately refused to collude with a potential death sentence. Our stories not only influence how we feel about things, but the “real” world out there as well — in these cases healing events that had already happened!
We can always craft a mythic story around our journey — one that will help us grow, learn, and heal. In the end, we may not be able to alter a diagnosis, but we just might heal our souls and finally start learning the lessons we came into this world to get. Perhaps to slow down and appreciate the people around us; to let go of an existence that we are sleepwalking through because we’ve become convinced it is our destiny; or, from the perspective of hummingbird, the diagnosis may serve as a wake-up call to make the changes we’ve been avoiding.
When we don’t judge an illness, or allow ourselves to get stuck in mortal fear that we’ll die, we’ll find it easier to perceive it from a higher level and write a mythic story. When we practice nonjudgement, we no longer have illnesses — we have opportunities for healing and growth. We no longer have past traumas — we have events that sharpened our edges and shaped who we are today. We don’t reject the facts — we reject the negative interpretation of them, and the traumatic story we’re tempted to weave around them. We then create a story of strength and compassion based on these facts.