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Dave Brisbin

The Reality We Believe

The reality we believe is the reality we endure.

What we believe about reality becomes our experience of it and shapes our lives so profoundly that we don’t see reality as it is—only what survives the filter of our worldview. Because this is true, every responsible philosophy and religion on earth teaches some form of non-attachment, stepping aside from entrenched beliefs to make us free enough to see and accept what really is. There is no peace until we do.

Jesus said, don’t judge or you will be judged, and the way you judge, your standard of measure, will be measured to you. Don’t judge, narrowly understood as condemning or at least condescending others, is deeply embedded in our cultural psyche, and yet, on more levels than we’re even aware, our entire world is built on judgment. But isn’t that necessary? Don’t we have to make judgments about people and situations in order to know who we can trust, how to choose alternatives?

We need to make a distinction here between judging and discerning. Judgment is a conclusion we reach based on internalized standards—the reality we believe. Discernment is a conclusion we reach based on real-time experience—recognizing reality as it is. We can judge long-distance; don’t need to be close to see what is acceptable to our belief system. But discernment requires a dive into relationship to experience a person as trustworthy or a situation acceptable.

Jesus’ saying sounds punitive: if we do wrong by judging, then someone, ultimately God, will wrong us back. Nothing could be farther from reality. Judgment separates; discernment connects. Judging breaks life into small pieces in conflict with each other, making love conditional and bringing into existence the world we must endure. No one does this to us.  Nor God. We do it to ourselves. If the way we judge is not tempered with willingness to risk the intimacy of discernment, we will always live in the broken pieces of the reality we believe…and never see the oneness of what really is.


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