Man is a social creature. He was born of the body of God unto the body of humanity, as such he is a part of the whole, inner and outer. As such, he longs for and depends upon connection, for no man is complete unto himself.
The connections he makes on earth are the channels through which his life energies are spent. They are the network through which he achieves and the web of support in which he rests. A man’s friends and acquaintances are critical in this regard, for they are the contact points in the earth through which he serves and by means of which his experiences are formed.
The question every man faces in forming these acquaintances is this: “Who and how close?” Children, particularly young children, relate more or less automatically to those within their sphere of influence, be it a sandbox or a play room. The calculations adults make (e.g. “What’s in it for me? How can this person help me advance my desire for more power or pleasure? Do we have similar interests? Will this person listen to and understand me?”) have not yet formed in the simple arithmetic of the child.
Children innocently and instinctively go about making connections, with little fanfare and without expectation or demand. Young adults and adults, however, tend to be more discriminate, if not judgmental. They pick their friends and acquaintances more carefully, after sizing them up or measuring them against a set of criteria acquired from worldly experience and the pressures of familial and societal norms.
Rather than the simple math of childhood, adults typically apply a cold, hard calculus built on the principle of judgment to the problem of connection. They question the motives and authenticity of others, rather than accepting them on face value, and they fear being taken advantage of, so they proceed with caution. A child might share that which is most precious, say a favorite toy or pacifier, within seconds of meeting another, while and adult might take weeks to move beyond saying hello in the hallway to a new face.
Adults may chalk up these differences to the naïveté and impetuousness of youth, but imagine for a moment that adults have it wrong. What if the judgment-based calculations we make about one another are entirely unnecessary, if not counter-productive?
Setting aside the fact that judgment is squarely advised against in the Eastern and Western spiritual texts throughout history, and the fact that judgment was the one thing that was forbidden to humanity by God (remember the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil?) in the garden planted eastward in Eden, judgment is an inefficient process for mapping out our connections and answering that simple question, “Who and how close?”
Appearances are often deceiving. Judgment typically relies on a determination of value based on appearances. Moreover, when man judges, he tends to do so based on a relatively narrow field of vision and scope of concern. “Throwing the baby out with the bath water” and “Fools rushing in where angels fear to tread” are said about man’s capacity for judgment for a reason. Judgment—using the knowledge of good and evil—is a terribly ineffective way to tease out an ideal network of friends and acquaintances. Value is regularly overlooked and dangers are far too often underestimated.
The alternative to the math of man is the physics of being. Being is magnetic. There is a positive radiation from every being, and that positivity is a unique aspect of love. The natural radiance of a newborn child, for instance, is not the result of educational degrees attained, net worth, grooming habits, or material possessions, it is the angel within shining brightly through a yielded, humble, and innocent body, mind, and heart. There is no veil between inner and outer, and the result is a glory to behold.
Adults, however, tend to lose that transparency. Their bodies, minds, and hearts become shadowed and darkened by judgment and well-intentioned but misguided self-activity. Their decisions and actions in this state gradually divorce them from the wisdom and brilliance within, and no amount of trying gets them closer to the state of innocence, openness, and ease they once enjoyed. They try to grind out a better life, but lose the thread of connection to their glorious, potent, magnanimous inner reality in the process.
So how can he escape from this madness? Judging harder, judging smarter, judging more? Unlikely. Applying more of the same logic is likely only to compound, not resolve the problem. Fortunately, the way out is much easier and much less painful than the way in.
To be continued…