In modern spirituality I find that judgement is often judged. Many people have had painful experiences due to religious judgement. This is ironic because in Christianity, the religion that I grew up with, there is a principle of non-judgement. I was taught that we shouldn’t judge, because only God has the right to judge. This however does not work well when some followers of a religion see themselves as God’s ambassadors. One of the teachings of Jesus is that it is better not to judge, because the judgement we pass on others will also be bestowed on us. My understanding of this principle is that our judgement of others is an expression of our relationship with ourselves.
The Tarot also has a card devoted to judgement: the twentieth card in the major Arcana. The
|Judgement: the 20th Card in the|
Major Arcana of the Tarot
When I read the Tarot, I look at how the card speaks to me. There is a suggestion of the duality of heaven and earth, symbolised by the angel and the humans. Furthermore, the cross is a symbol of matter and the red colour corresponds to the root chakra, representing our connection to earth. Red is also the colour of blood, reminding of our humanity. The white background to the cross signifies the purity of spirit and the unification of all colours of light. While the earthbound existence could be dreary and heavy, as expressed through the theme of death, responding to the call of heaven (or soul) can bring new life to it. Interestingly, the resurrected people are naked, which brings to mind Adam and Eve’s harmonious co-existence with God in the Garden of Eden before the fall. Being naked means no longer hiding aspects of the self from oneself, and that includes mistakes. Through looking at oneself with honest eyes, forgiveness of the self is possible, which in turn fosters tolerance for others.
Judgement represents an opportunity for learning. While corporeal existence is by no means perfect, there are glimpses of paradise even in the mundane. Those moments where everything is in harmony remind us of the love at the core of our being. Through having a body and an ego identity, we can create ourselves through the choices we make. When we become aware of where our actions have harmed ourselves and others, we can correct our mistakes. When others have hurt us, we can show compassion towards them, understanding how they have acted out of their own pain and lack of knowledge as we often do when we hurt others. Being naked also serves as a reminder that we are all human, regardless of our social standing. The fault we find in others is a projection of the inadequacies we perceive in ourselves.
To me the final judgement ultimately means taking full responsibility for one’s actions. When one no longer looks to a moral authority outside of the self to dictate one’s behaviour, one is free to make mistakes and to learn from them. Judging others inappropriately is also a valid mistake, because no person can ever know the full truth of another person’s perception. However, in the material world where we forge our own human identities, there are experiences that we might not wish to have in relation to other people, as well as practices that we do not condone. The capacity to judge in this case is a responsibility to honour our own truth and to speak and act on it if we choose to. Taking responsibility for our own choices also involves understanding that others are responsible for theirs.