I listened to an interesting dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal yesterday, on how we define ourselves and other people.
I wouldn’t consider myself judgemental ordinarily, but it made me realise that I too am guilty of seeing people through the labels I have defined them by.
My Mum comes to mind. I realised I always see her through the filter of “mum”. But she is a person in her own right. She was her own person – an individual – before she had me. And she continued to be her own person after I was born.
It’s easy to see people through filters. By their sex. Or occupation.
Or even by a previous encounter we have had with them – either pleasant or unpleasant.
Perhaps we see them as “angry”, or “emotional”, based on that encounter.
However no person can be defined by one label.
You are the sum of everyone you have ever met. Every experience you have ever had. Your hopes, dreams and intentions.
Pick a prominent person in your life.
Spend some time reflecting – what “labels” have you defined them by?
How else can you see them? How many ways can you describe them?
I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.