A few years ago at the dawn of my spiritual awakening I was presented with the realisation that I had become quite a judgemental person.
A spiritual teacher I was working with at the time introduced me to the notion that as soon as we judge someone we become unable to truly connect and learn from them, like this initial judgement becomes the lens that we see them through for evermore.
I realised that I was quick to judge people, quick to jump to a conclusion about them based on what they were wearing, the first thing I heard them say, their mannerisms, the group they were a part of, the location I met them in and many more factors which in truth tell you very little about the person.
So I sat with this, initially feeling quite let down that I was a judgemental person, shallow because I was almost writing people off because of superficial factors, in short I started judging myself! This thought made me laugh enough that it was natural to quickly drop it and move forward.
I asked myself why I do this, a question which had me going around in circles.
After much exploration in this area of thought it started to feel futile and like the answer for this question was not to be found here, so I decided to take a different approach, deciding instead to focus on what we all have in common. I moved away from trying to over analyse the judgemental behavioural pattern and instead took what felt like a more loving approach.
So I started to explore what I had in common with people, what I had in common that was impossible to tell during a first encounter. What I had in common with everyone, what we all have in common with each other.
After much thought I came to a conclusion which felt true and loving, that every being in existence just wants to be happy.
Happiness of course takes different shapes and forms for different people, so how we express this want to be happy can differ greatly from person to person, but when we strip back all of the details we're left with that one truth.
Now whether not this is true was entirely irrelevant to me, the fact was it was true enough to me for the judgemental pattern to be washed away. I started looking into the eyes of every person I came in contact with and, as oppose to reviewing different characteristics in order to label and pigeon hole, I started understanding that all that person wanted was to be happy.
All of a sudden those characteristics seemed divinely beautiful, an expression of their souls wish to be happy. I started to see myself in everyone, see my loves and insecurities in everyone, I started to feel the same overwhelmingly warm and comforting feeling of love looking at strangers as I did looking at my children. I fell in love with the world and everyone in it.
It became very easy to understand why anyone did anything (although it is worth pointing out that understanding and acceptance did not always walk hand in hand), and then very difficult to get annoyed or upset by anyone else actions.
The magnitude of the change I experienced convinced me that I had identified something we all have in common, and many times I have sat in quiet contemplation at what else there may be, yet during these times I come to the conclusion that anything else I identify comes back to wanting to be happy again.
It has become a beautiful mindfulness practice to sit quietly contemplating, what is the one thing we all have in common?