Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Judgment vs. Love

"The more you judge, the less you love."
-- Honore de Balzac

I've been thinking a lot about judgment recently. It was prompted by an incident where a friend judged me mistakenly and harshly and the love that I had felt in our friendship suddenly seemed to vanish. I'm not sure the friendship will survive but I'm trying to keep the door open. This morning I decided to think about judgment and now wonder if I'm being unloving by "judging" judgment. So I turned to google and found ...

The blog of Erik A Fisher, who says that the opposite of love is not hate but judgment. He explains:
Love is an emotion. In its purest form, love is the most powerful emotion that exists. It is the light that shines through all darkness to every corner of our universe. Judgment, on the other hand is devoid of emotion. In its purest form, it is pure logic and is extremely powerful to refute. Judgment can, however, evoke emotions in others, because of the strength or lack of strength in the logic used to support any judgment. However, regardless of the emotions that one feels, judgment is still not an emotion.
• The power of love can draw even the most distant people together. Love traverses race, religion, age, gender, income, political affiliation – there is almost nothing that love cannot draw together. We can see the power of love in the most unlikely of marriages and friendships. Judgment, on the other hand, almost always serves the purpose to separate and categorize. It often contributes to creating hierarchies and divisions in families, neighborhoods, politics, nations and religions. Judgment often justifies war and genocide. Even when it does serve to draw some people together, it still serves to separate others.
• Love often lacks objectivity and in its truest form is unconditional. It neither evaluates nor questions — it just is. The very nature of Judgment is conditional. It requires questions and answers, and while one would hope it is based in truth, it often is not.
Another site listed many passages from various religious texts ... the admonition against judgment seems to be universal. My favorite comes from Buddhism, Sutra of Hui Neng 2:
He who treads the Path in earnest
Sees not the mistakes of the world;
If we find fault with others
We ourselves are also in the wrong.
When other people are in the wrong, we should ignore it,
For it is wrong for us to find fault.
By getting rid of this habit of fault-finding
We cut off a source of defilement.
It seems to me that only by focusing on love can we avoid judging ... only by loving my friend can I avoid also being judgmental. Putting my hurt feelings aside may be hard but I know it is the right thing to do.

But I also wonder if I loved myself enough, perhaps the judgment that came my way could have been deflected. Perhaps I would have been strong enough to not react to the incoming judgment and my feelings would not have been hurt. Perhaps feeling hurt was just a choice.

More to chew on.


  1. The famous philosopher Seneca wrote that we are our choices. Many others have written variations on this same notion. Kofi Annan, for example, said that to live is to choose. Irving has been quoted to say that 10% of life is what you make it and 90% how you take it. Choices, yes. And hearts that get hurt. So, I guess one choice is to look into your hurt for the reason for the hurt and learn how to grow through it through understanding it.

  2. Maureen ... very good advice ... thanks! joyce