Recently as I was watching this beautiful movie called, Begin Again starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, I found myself actively judging Mark Ruffalo’s character.
Mark’s character in the movie appears to be a vagabond in the initial thirty minutes. The man is seemingly a failure in both career and personal life. Considering he’s drinking after every few minutes of the movie, one ends up thinking that his addiction to intoxicants may have led him onto this path. Like me, Keira’s character ends up judging him too.
We both err.
In a fit of rage, Ruffalo ends up telling Keira why he lives in a shitty apartment away from his family and daughter. The revelation is not earth-shattering, but it undoubtedly humbled me. ( I am not revealing the entire plot here; I highly recommend you to watch the movie. A genuinely heartwarming film.)
The Three Modes
So often in life, we are swift to judge people based on their external behaviour. In doing so, we miss out on what exactly may have transpired in their life and world.
The Vedic scriptures enlighten us with the concept and understanding of previous lives. We find sometimes elaborate, sometimes brief accounts of the past lives of famous personalities from Indian History. Catch here is that everyone acts out of their acquired qualities from material nature and what is known as previous birth sanskaras or conditionings.
There is always an explanation as to why people turn out the way that they do. Be it Ravana, Karna, or even our beloved deities.
“Even a person of knowledge acts according to their own nature, for everyone follows the nature acquired from the three modes. What can repression accomplish?”Bhagavad Gita, 3.33
Three modes of material nature as explained by Shri Krishna are-
- Goodness (sattva)
- Passion (rajas)
- Ignorance (tamas)
Every living being on the planet acts under the influence of these modes. There is always a mixture of these forces acting upon us.
Our previous birth inclinations, desires, actions, company and diet, are some of the prime influencers of the mode of material nature active upon an individual.
More I associate with Krishna and His divine words in the Bhagavad Gita, the more I find myself peeling off the conditionings of judgement from my mind.
Morality is a useful social construct to only an extent, but one cannot solely rely on that to judge and label people as good or not good.
For instance, something that may be right in India may be utterly wrong in Japan. India itself is so vast that what is right and acceptable in Punjab turns out to be offensive down south.
How to then define wrong and right?
Shri Krishna’s Formula
“The humble sages, by true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned person, a cow, an elephant, a dog and an outcaste”Bhagavad Gita, 5.18
If one cultivates this knowledge and applies the ‘soul vision’- i.e. seeing beyond the external covering matter over living beings, our judgements cease to exist. If you add the understanding of how material modes influence each one, you even start to offer empathy to everyone you encounter.
We all end up making various judgements and beliefs depending upon our perceptions and tastes in life like:
“All religions are bad.”
“A teetotaler can never have fun!”
“The rich always oppress.”
“White people are racist.”
“Tik-Tok is a disgrace” (perhaps this one is right)
Our judgements only limit our experience of life. They rob us of precious opportunities to learn more about the uniqueness of different people and creation.
As Osho would say,
“Rise above the definitions of good and bad. Instead, become aware. Watch and understand.”
My experience with the movie Begin Again taught me a valuable lesson. It is never wise to judge or attach a label onto someone without knowing their life story. We are all the sum total of our experiences. If at all, you find someone whose energies aren’t in alignment with your way of being, send them a silent blessing and move along. Doing so benefits not only them but ourselves too immensely.
Thank you so much for reading until the end of the piece. If the article resonated with you, please do let me know. I would also be grateful if you could share this with your friends and family.
I wish you joy, harmony and peace.
P.S. This week I leave you with a melodic song from Begin Again. Enjoy!