Questioner: Sometimes in my life I feel I can read people a bit, but I feel it’s just my ego judging others. How can I know the difference between the two? And even when I do, should I act upon that?

Sadhguru: Most people have a very deep misunderstanding about being effective in the world. They think that by knowing other people, they can be very effective. The idea is that if you know others, you can control the situation in some way. This is not true. If you know what you call “myself” right now, you can become very effective in the world.

Everyone can make judgments, but those who have developed the urge to grow should stop judging others.

If you make an effort to read something, maybe sometimes you will, because after all you have a mind and you can judge, but what will you do with these judgments? Today, human society is such that whatever we see – whether it is a tree or a rock or water or anything – we want to see how to use this. We can’t just see anything simply the way it is and leave it there.

This is not just about nature, this goes for people also. Once you get into this mindset, you are always looking at how to make use of these people. This is a serious misunderstanding that has happened in the world. Things were made to be used, and people, to be loved. But the misunderstanding is so deeply ingrained that people are being used and things are being loved. You have seen people divorcing their wives or husbands. How many people do you see divorcing their money? We are using people and loving things.

Addressing the deepest core

When you look at someone’s body first, immediately your mind will say this person is beautiful or ugly, young or old. All this will occur in the mind in a split second. If you try to judge the person’s behavior or speech, there will be all kinds of judgments: you like them, you dislike them, you hate them, you love them. So don’t look at someone’s body, mind, or emotions. You address the deepest core in this person to start with. First, you bow down to the seed of life which exists in this being. Whatever is the source of life, that is what you refer to as God, isn’t it? The source or seed of life exists in every one of us. First, you bow to this. Your first involvement is with this. Only afterwards you meet the other things in the person.

This is a deeper understanding of life, that first when you meet a person, you bow down to the source of life within.

Body or mind may not be okay, but you have no issue about that. This person may not be of your culture, or you have likes and dislikes about him. It is okay, because you have first addressed the fundamental source of life. This is not a judgment, this is not a reading. This is a deeper understanding of life, that first when you meet a person, you bow down to the source of life within. With that, you have no conflict or judgment.

No human being is constant. Today, someone may be something that you don’t like. Tomorrow morning he or she may be in a wonderful mood. But if you think you have read and made an impression of that person in the past, you will miss that person the way he or she is right now. Once you get into that, it is a trap.

Judging others reflects the way you think

Your judgments have nothing to do with the other. Your judgments reflect the way you think. When the mind is on endlessly, it keeps making judgments about everyone and everything in the world. Even if your mind makes judgments about other people, don’t attach any importance to it. Once you start making judgments, invariably, there are only two basic judgments – this is good, this is bad. Everything that you consider as good, naturally you are drawn to it and get attached to it. Everything that you consider as bad, you get repelled from it and negative emotions will flow. So there is no need to judge others. You just have to judge situations. You don’t have to judge people.

All dissatisfaction, all bitterness, all negativity comes out of our own limitations, not because of the situation. Realizing this is maturity. Everyone can make judgments, but those who have developed the urge to grow should stop judging others. Otherwise, for every small step you take forward, you take 100 steps backward. You may not realize it immediately, but you will experience it after a few days or months.

So, whether it is a peach or an apple or a person or a tree or any experience, just experience it for what it is. It will go very deep into you. That is when you know life.

Editor’s Note: “Mystic’s Musings” includes more of Sadhguru’s wisdom and insights on human nature and the possibilities and pitfalls of the mind. Read the free sample [pdf] or purchase the ebook.

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower March 2015. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.