How A Famous Dance Show Reminds Us That Judgment Is Simply An Illusion

When we judge someone or even ourselves, we make the mistake in believing that this evaluation is the truth, and that this person (or our self) is truly the judgment we have made; not realizing that at its core, this is an illusion. Here’s an example that will explain this much better than logic. You know those dancing and singing TV shows, where there are usually a few judges that determine who’s better, what score they got out of ten and so on? Well it turns out these shows are really about the judges and not the dancers/singers/artists. So, a dancer does a routine and then a judge (or five) decides on whether it was good, bad, 9 out of 10, sloppy, excellent, whatever. But replace these three judges with three of their peers, and the results could be totally different. Notice how there’s no such thing as an arbitrary label like a good or bad dancer? One judges amazing dancer could be another’s mediocre dancer. A judge versed in psychedelic-folk-jazz isn’t going to fall in love with someone dancing the waltz. Everyone has different tastes and preferences. Any label applied to one of the dancers is really the judge telling us how he/she thinks. “I think you are fantastic,” “I thought that was too slow,” “I rate you 9 out of 10.” They’re telling us all about themselves, and usually we try and apply these labels to the person being judged. So the winners and losers on these shows are merely a reflection of the judges. Where do these judgments come from? Why would one judge pay more attention to maybe the rhythm of the dancer, and another the flexibility, or grace? Why are there so many varied opinions of the one dance? Because of people’s past –the experiences that they have been privy to prior to the dance. A person exposed more to the cha-cha during the past, will think differently than someone versed in contemporary. Not only are these overlays/judgments a reflection of the judge rather than the dancer, but they are also a reflection of the judge’s past! They are saying “my past experiences have amalgamated into all these preferences, and here’s where you fit into that.” Just as the judge is only telling us about themselves, so too do we when we judge or evaluate someone/thing. When we say or think something like “that person is just a fool,” we are merely telling somebody how we think, nothing more.

The illusion is that our judgment is true, when it is not. A concept or label will never replace a person or an experience. Here is a short clip of Sogyal Rinpoche (author of Tibetan book of the living and dying) on meditation and non-judgemental awareness. “There are no good thoughts and no bad thoughts in reality, ultimately they are our interpretation.” .

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