Since I had been practising breathing and ‘observe, don’t judge’ exercises, I had noticed this young man offer various services to us. Later in the day as we travelled back to the monastery, we casually spoke about different things including his marriage next month and I spontaneously recalled how during the early hours he had shown a remarkable presence of mind. I appreciated his alertness in his services but he dismissed it as a small thing. I assured him that this was a critical help he had offered. Amidst our light-hearted conversation, I commented that when he gets married next month, his wife will probably realize she’s the luckiest woman to get a husband like him. He blushed and our happy exchanges helped us enter a life-enhancing space of appreciation and kindness.
Unknowingly that evening I had practised a valuable life principle taught by Peter Drucker: ‘Catch them doing right’. We often catch people doing wrong, but if we could see the good and right things happening around us, we’d spread so much love. During that journey I had done exactly that. I spoke little that day but contributed more because I was ‘observing’ rather than ‘judging’. The founder of the Scouts movement, Robert Baden Powell put it brilliantly, “If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talking.”
When I look back in life, I can see on many occasions I was busy and absorbed in my to do list and that’s when I failed to observe the good around me. When our lives are embedded in our own mental world, we become the proverbial frog in the well; we are unable to appreciate the universe of goodness that thrives beyond our tiny selfish existence. Unfortunately we rely too much on our judgement. As the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung said, “we should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect. The judgement of the intellect is only part of the truth.” But when we chose to practise non-judgemental observation, we can easily catch the goodness around us.It’s only when we chose to listen, to observe, that we journey from our heads to our heart, that’s when we access wisdom that’s inherent to us. Marilyn Savant who has recorded the highest IQ and has entered the Guinness Book of World Record Hall of Fame said, “to acquire knowledge one must study, but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”