As soon as you judge—say, a person’s behavior, a political idea, or something that happened to you—you have cut yourself off from the well of understanding. For in order to understand, you need an open, observing, and questioning mind. What exactly is the person doing and why might he be acting that way? What exactly does the idea imply and where might its implementation lead to? What exactly happened and how might the event have come about?
Judgments, by contrast, are closed assertions that do not concern themselves with cause, process, and effect. A judging thought rather bespeaks an involvement with emotion and a readiness to place values over facts. Yet in the realm of good and bad, truth is nowhere to be found.
Of course, we do not see judging as bad. Not least because if we did, we could no longer hope to understand it. And it may well be that it is sometimes better to judge than to understand (after all, deliberate change requires judgment). But that is beside the point. The point is merely that judging precludes understanding: it narrows our attention, dyes our perception, and warps our cognition. Thus Anthony de Mello‘s saying that what you judge you cannot understand.