Listening Without Judgment

It is because we can listen without judgment, that we are all special.

Photo by Kimia Zarifi on Unsplash

While I was taking my daily walk one morning, a thought occurred to me. All of us humans have a special capability that no other entity on Earth possesses. We have the ability to listen without judgment. How wonderful!

When someone expresses suffering, they are free to express this suffering to inanimate objects. These objects will listen to the best of their abilities. The rock listens as a rock. The wall listens as a wall. Etc. However, as far as I know, one of these entities is capable of judgment. However, we humans are able to judge. This makes us special. What a great gift it is to have the ability to judge, but not use it, when listening to someone’s suffering!

Judgment is what casts us into hell. Here’s a story. I’ve heard multiple versions of it. A samurai comes to a Zen master asking whether heaven and hell are real. The Zen master insults the samurai. The samurai draws his sword, ready to kill the Zen master. The master says, “this is hell.” The samurai has a realization and sheathes his sword back. The master says, “this is heaven.” The samurai wasn’t listening without judgment, and thus he created hell.

“Very clever. So you are beyond judgment, then?”

Haha, as if. I know hell very well, for I dwell in it, just like Jijang Bosal.

“Who?”

Jijang Bosal is the Bodhisattva who helps the deceased who are in hell, but more broadly he is the Bodhisattva of transitions. He is the Bodhisattva with whom I have the greatest affinity. In Japan, he is known as Jizo Bosatsu, and in India, as Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva.

I’ve experienced a whole slew of transitions in my life. Between life and death. Between passing as straight, and expressing my pansexuality, and polyamorous nature. Between passing as neurotypical, and being autistic. Between being a man, but discovering that I’m nonbinary. Being single, then married, then divorce. It is no accident that Jijang is the Bodhisattva who I feel guides my steps through life.

And now he guides me as I abide in hell, and listen to those who confide in me without judgment. I can do this even when the person talking to me is someone I adore, but is telling me hurtful things. This is both surprising, and amazing! I did not know I could do this, but my ex-partners have revealed this aspect of my being.

And thus now, Jijang Bosal asks me to use my personal suffering to help all those I encounter. I help them not with big flashy acts, but with small acts of kindness, and listening, without judgment.

I’m not a saint, but I try.


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