No, despite a lot of bad press, money is not the root of all evil.
In fact, money is not the source of anything good or bad. Money just is.
The real root of all evil is judgment. Judgment is that little voice in our head that tell us something is right or wrong, good or evil.
Where do we get this program? Is it genetic? Is it learned behavior?
History tells us that good and evil are relative terms—that any specific behavior can be deemed good in one society and evil in another. Judgment is based on beliefs, and beliefs are programs that have been instilled in each of us by our environment.
To get deeper, judgment is based on the results of our experiences, and whether we liked the experience or not.
If we have not experienced something, the only way we know whether to like something or not is through programming and beliefs received from someone else. My parents taught me that it is just as easy to marry a rich girl as it is a poor one—and that the rich girl is preferable. My dad used to say it was easier to make a fortune in 10 minutes at the altar than to work hard for a lifetime.
That was his judgment; I think that’s ridiculous. The fact that people have money or not is not a reason to judge them as good or bad. The basis of how we interact with people should be their behavior, not any single circumstance. (This goes for gender, race, ethnicity, education and political beliefs, too.)
Whatever anyone believes doesn’t make them good or bad; we need to experience their behavior to decide whether we like them or not.
Drilling down even further, just because we don’t like someone, doesn’t mean they are good or bad, as that is our ego’s way of categorizing people.
A perfect case in point about the illusion of judgment: I love things that are bad for me.
Risky behavior carries a certain excitement about it that can make life more exciting; however, that same risky behavior often has negative consequences that outweigh the excitement potential. So why do I like things that are bad for me? It’s not just an issue of whether I like something or not; it has to do with my motivation and my perception, which are the bases of judgment.
The layers of this self-analysis go incredibly deep into our psyche. Many times I meditate on what life would be like if I had no judgment—or prejudice. Prejudice is simply judgment that was decided before I personally encountered a given circumstance.
Oftentimes I decide who I am attracted to based on their body, their facial structure or their capacity for adventure. To tell the truth, sometimes I am highly attracted to someone and I don’t even know why—a dangerous landscape to be crossing. Not too long ago, I was attracted to someone who had no interest in me, but they were interested in the lifestyle I could give them. You can make your own judgments about that situation, but I have decided to not blame myself or her; it was a learning experience for me.
Getting back to an existence without judgment, I believe we could then live without blame, shame, guilt, victimhood or any of the other negative emotions that arise when we feel we have done something wrong.
Some people would say that if we didn’t have judgment, we wouldn’t know we were doing something wrong.
We can still have discretion without judgment. Judgment often results in a belief or an opinion, while discretion allows us to choose what we do, say and think. Discretion does not employ absolutes like “good/bad” or “right/wrong;” it simply follows an action to its potential conclusion and then decides whether it wants to experience that or not.
I believe that enlightenment is the ability to observe something without judging it, comparing it to something else, liking it or condemning it. After all, one of the worst things we do to ourselves is concluding that there is something wrong with us.
We all are having our experience, and only we can decide whether we will repeat a behavior or not. It is judgment that limits our behavior and limits who we are.
A prime example is public speaking—or better yet, public singing. Many people avoid that like the plague, because they are afraid they will be judged or have already decided that they aren’t good at it. Yet they may have a message that someone desperately needs to hear.
When we drop the judgment, we can live limitless lives without fear of being judged by anyone else.
If we don’t judge, then we are left with the possibility of understanding and empathy.
When we have understanding and empathy, there is nothing evil.
Author: James Robinson
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: David Sorich/Flickr