Judging from the looks of things . . .

I may be sent to New Thought hell soon, so, well, it’s been nice knowing you.

Here’s how it happened. Last night I decided to once again attempt to reduce my judgmental tendencies. Every so often I become aware of this inherited trait of mine and decide to wrangle it into submission. I use the word “wrangle” to evoke the imagery of a rodeo so you might leap to the correct assumption that my success in this regard has historically lasted about seven seconds. Roping judgment is a lot like riding a bull.

I’ve done the deep dive into the difference between good judgment, the laudable ability to make excellent decisions, and being judgmental, the act of priggishly asserting your illusory superiority over another and often by assessing grotesquely minute characteristics. I am talking solely about the latter.

So last night I once again felt compelled — got convicted, as we used to say in the fundamentalist church — and determined that I would withhold all judgmental tendencies for 24 hours. I’m sure that was my problem. Making the leap from seven seconds to 24 hours is guru-level enlightenment.

And so I failed. But I didn’t just fail.


I’m going to New Thought hell.

Now, I don’t know Deepak Chopra. I want to make that clear from the start. But I follow him on social media, and this afternoon I saw a post of his that included a question someone had posed to him along with his response. The question was from someone who had felt guided to open a spiritual center, become a Reiki practitioner, and help heal the world. A noble cause. But this experience was a financial trainwreck for the person. Their home was foreclosed. Their credit rating went into the toilet. This person believed, visualized, positively affirmed, cleared past energy, and set intentions, but nothing seemed to work. The question to Deepak was clear: “What did I do wrong?”

Now, let me make it clear that 95% of Mr. Chopra’s response to this writer was spot on as usual. But in the first paragraph, he said, “Where you fell short was the depth of consciousness from which you set your intention into play.”

And in under seven seconds, I popped into his comment section and wrote this:

With all due respect, sir, I don’t believe you can assess the writer’s ‘depth of consciousness,” and your attempt to do so feels blaming. The rest of your response resonates with your usual brilliance. But the bigger issue not addressed here is the degree to which some spiritual teachers advocate a throw-caution-to-the-wind approach to visioning for one’s life and the idea that all will be fine if you are aligned, and if it’s not fine, then you were somehow lacking. Stepping out in faith is beautiful, but that step should be balanced with other elements (planning, thoughtfulness, training, prayer, saving, an appropriate support system, and also, of course, personal consciousness-deepening work). I’d like to see a spiritual teacher who doesn’t just blame, but who also recognizes that spiritual teachers may have some culpability in encouraging folks to leap before they might be ready.”

And you might think that this post is actually about spiritual malpractice or the failings of the prosperity gospel or the dangers of an affirm-it-and-manifest-it spirituality that emphasizes acquisition over being-ness.

But it’s not. It’s about judgment. And before I can engage in healthy debate about spiritual principles with one of the foremost spiritual teachers in the world, I need to check mine.

At least for eight seconds.

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