Hassan of Basra relates:
“I had convinced myself that I was a man of humility, and less than humble in my thoughts and conduct towards others.
“Then one day I was standing on the bank of the river when I saw a man sitting there. Beside him was a woman and before them was a wine flask.
“I thought, ‘If only I could reform this man and make him like I am instead of the degenerate creature which he is.’
“At that moment I saw a boat in the river beginning to sink. The other man at once threw himself into the water where seven people were struggling, and brought six of them safely to the bank.”
Jesus says, “Judge ye not.” His statement is absolute, with no qualifications. It is categorical. He does not say: Don’t judge wrongly, he simply says, “Judge ye not.” Don’t judge at all. He makes no distinction between right judgment and wrong judgment. His statement declares that all judgment is wrong. Judgment as such is wrong.
This is a tremendously powerful statement – and the same is the attitude of Sufism about life. A real man of God has no judgment. He can’t judge. It is impossible for him to judge. Firstly, to judge you need to be an egoist. The ego is a must. Judgment is possible only if you are standing egocentrically. If you have no ego left, who is going to judge? And how? And in comparison to what?
The real man of God exists as a nothing. He is emptiness – what Buddha calls shunyata. He is nonbeing. Inside, in him, there is no one except God. He is one with the all. He cannot make a distinction of I and thou. He cannot stand against the thou in any way; because there is no I left, there cannot be any thou. He is one with all. With a thief he is a thief; with a saint he is a saint. He cannot stand against, he cannot even stand for – because to stand against or to stand for, you need an ego. That is a basic requirement. He cannot judge because he is not.
When Jesus says “Judge ye not” he is saying please disappear. The judgment won’t allow your ego to disappear, it will keep feeding it, will keep strengthening it. So those who judge become very, very egoistic. They are not the religious people, not the people of the path.
The second thing: to judge you need criteria, rules, paradigms. Rules come from the past, rules come from history – and life always goes on transcending history. History is where it once was, but it is no longer there. So all rules are inadequate. They belong to the dead past, they have nothing to say about the alive present.
Martin Luther has said that faith is based in history. That is an utterly absurd statement and very unchristian. Faith is not based in history, faith is based in your own experience of life herenow. It has nothing to do with the past. The past is no more. The past is nothing but footprints on the banks of time. Life has moved from there, just as sometimes a snake moves out of its old skin. To judge the alive snake by the dead skin would be foolish; to judge man by history is nonsense.
But without history there is no other criterion. You cannot judge from the past because it is no more, you cannot judge from the future because it is not yet, and by the time you find a criterion to judge man in the present, the present will have become past. It is changing each moment.