The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement.
~ J. Krishnamurti
This quote resonated strongly with me when I read it recently. I realize that it is a very Buddhist statement that can apply to ‘emptying your mind,’ enlightenment, higher states of consciousness, etc., but it says something more to me. Much of my life has been consumed by judgement from the church, my family, my peers, but mostly myself. I have been my own worst critic without a doubt, and it was only made worse by neurotic guilt over ‘sin’ and the desire to be accepted by God. For a time I found a tremendous source of release in embracing the grace of God, discovering that I was already accepted based upon the sacrificial atoning death of Christ on the cross. While that brought more peace than I had known up to that point, all of my failures and shortcomings continued to plague me because although they were forgiven, they remained a disappointment to God and ultimately myself. I could not live up to the ridiculous standard I set for myself, a standard I never expected of anyone else.
Only in these later years when I took the blasphemous step of concluding that hell and sin are the constructs of a religious system and not reality, did I begin to find the kind of freedom that the church had been selling for years. (see To Sin or Not to Sin, Is It Even Possible?) Ironically, I was listening to a Michael Tolcher song this morning, “Sooner or Later,” which talks about all of the rules we are given as kids. We grow up only to discover that the grown ups didn’t know what they were talking about anymore than we do now.
Somethings you have to learn them all on your own
You can’t rely on anybody else
Or the point of view of a source unknown
If it feels good and sounds nice
Then it’s your choice don’t doubt yourself
Don’t even think twice
I know that the Christians reading this would say it sounds like hedonism, a “if it feels good, do it” mentality, but I’ve come to believe that each of us have an internal compass pointing us in the direction that we were meant to go. No amount of religious browbeating can deter you from who you are. In the end it is more important to be accepted by yourself than by others. Again, many Christians I know would say that my conscience has been “seared by a hot iron,” that I’ve lost spiritual sensitivity to conviction and to God Himself. Honestly, I disagree. I’ve never felt more connected to the divine source than I do right now.
There is something to be said for clearing your mind, living in the present moment, and just being, especially in this crazy rat race we live in, but there is even more to be said for clearing your soul of a lifetime of religious clutter. While it may be impossible to observe yourself with absolutely no judgement, I know that I have much less of it now. While it may be regarded as the “highest form of human intelligence,” I believe it is the highest form of human freedom to live at peace with yourself and with others.