Don’t Judge the Person, Judge the act

Osho on Judging and teaching





Kalo Shreeman, my saying that you should not judge does not mean that you cannot say to a student, because you are a teacher, “The answer you have brought is not right.” It is not judging the person, it is judging the act. And I am not telling you not to judge the act — that is a totally different thing. For example, somebody is a thief — you can judge that stealing is not good. But don’t judge the person, because the person is a vast phenomenon and the act is a small thing. The act is so small a piece… that small piece should not become a judgment about the whole person. A thief may have many beautiful values: he may be truthful, he may be sincere, he may be a very loving person.

When I say don’t judge a person, I am not saying that you are not allowed to say that somebody is committing a mistake. Somebody is falling into a well — I am not saying that you should just stand silently without judging. This judgment, “Don’t go that way” — perhaps that man is blind and you have to prevent him; otherwise he will fall into the well. But preventing him, seeing that he is blind, does not mean that you are condemning him. The moment you start thinking in terms of condemnation then judgment enters, and I am against that kind of judgment. One student is doing something which is not right. You are a teacher, your very function is to put the student on the right path. It is your love, it is not your condemnation; it is your compassion, not your judgment.

But most often what happens is just the opposite: people start judging the person rather than the action. Actions have to be corrected — and particularly in a profession like teaching, you have to correct; you cannot allow students to go on doing wrong things. That will be very cruel, uncompassionate. I have been a teacher myself, but I have never judged a single student as far as his person, his being is concerned. But that does not mean I have not corrected them if they were wrong…

Just don’t judge so quickly, and don’t judge the person. Judge actions, and correct them, and don’t correct them according to tradition, convention, according to so-called morality, according to your prejudices. Whenever you are correcting somebody, be very meditative, be very silent; look at the whole thing from all perspectives. Perhaps they are doing the right thing, and your prevention will not be right at all.

So when I say, “Don’t judge,” I simply mean that no action gives you the right to condemn the person. If the action is not right, help the person — find out why the action is not right, but there is no question of judgment. Don’t take the person’s dignity, don’t humiliate him, don’t make him feel guilty — that’s what I mean when I say, “Don’t judge.” But as far as correcting is concerned: unprejudiced, silently, in your awareness, if you see that something is wrong and will destroy that person’s intelligence, will take him on the wrong paths in his life, help him.

The job of the teacher is not just to teach futile things — geography, and history, and all kinds of nonsense. His basic function is to bring the students to a better consciousness, to a higher consciousness. This should be your love and your compassion, and this should be the only value on which you judge any action as right or wrong. But never for a single moment let the person feel that he has been condemned. On the contrary, let him feel that he has been loved — it is out of love that you have tried to correct him….

Just don’t be serious! Don’t think that you are a teacher so you are in a very serious job. Look at life with more playful eyes… it is really hilarious! There is nothing to judge — everybody is doing his best. If you feel disturbed by somebody, it is your problem, not his. First correct yourself. I have my own way of looking at things…. I was a teacher for nine years, and I never judged a single student. I have never examined a single examination paper, because I told the vice-chancellor, “If I really examine, nobody is going to pass. And if I am going to pass a few people, why should the others not be passed? So things are clear — you can decide — either I can pass everybody, or I can fail everybody.”….

If it were up to me, I would allow the students to have all the books available. Only a very intelligent student can find out the answers from the books in three hours. And you will be able to judge their intelligence in a better way; otherwise somebody has just crammed five answers, and he knows nothing else, and he comes first in the class. And somebody else knows everything, just has missed those five questions, and he is a failure. This is not a good examination; they should be allowed to have the whole library available to them. They can go to the library, they can find the answer, they can write it. In three hours, they have to find as beautiful answers as possible. And only intelligent students will be able to find them.

In the Soviet Union they have changed this old idea of examinations. Now books are available — all the books concerned are available in the hall where the students are given their examination; they can consult any book. It is far better, because the ultimate concern is to know the intelligence of the person, not his memory. So students need not memorize anything — they have to understand things. In examination time they can either just from their intelligence give the answer, or they can look in the books. But if in a five hundred page book you have to find one answer, you need some intelligence — mediocres will not be able to find the answer, they will become so nervous…

And there is no need that a person should have to wait for one year. I told the vice-chancellor, “If I am going to be the superintendent I will follow my ideas, I don’t care what is conventional. The conventional is not necessarily the right thing. I will give them all the available material; they can find out. Only the intelligent people will be able to find out. And those who have not been successful should be given a chance again after one month. What is the problem that they should wait for one year?”

Finally, there is no need of any examinations if every teacher goes on giving marks in his diary every day to the students. And every year, all the notes from all the teachers are collected. And based on those counts the students are moved, either upward or downward. Because there are many who deserve to go back — they have somehow slipped, they should not be allowed… they should be put back; they should earn better marks and go ahead again.

And this should remain available: if a teacher finds that an intelligent student has unnecessarily to wait six months more for examination, he should recommend that the student be moved right now to a higher class, because he has enough intelligence. There is no need for him to wait six months more. Teachers should be the decisive factors. In that situation, nobody fails, nobody passes — people simply move. A few move faster, a few move a little slower; everybody according to his pace. Nobody is condemned as a failure, nobody is praised as first-class, nobody is praised as a gold medalist. All these things teach people unnecessary ambition, and ambition is poison.

You are a teacher; you should try in every way to change the very structure of teaching, particularly your teaching. And slowly, slowly things move. You should tell other teachers, “There are many things wrong with the education system itself, which nobody bothers about. And you are judging students; the first thing should be a right system of education.” The whole system is rotten, old, out of date; it has to be completely changed. So I am not saying don’t judge. Particularly systems, conventions, traditions — judge them! But don’t judge individuals. If their actions are wrong, help them to get free of those wrong actions. If they are going in wrong directions, help them to find right paths. And this should be your love, this should not be your judgment.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: The Invitation Chapter #25

Chapter title: Just go and tell everybody

2 September 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium


Osho has spoken on ‘education, teachers, love, awareness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Last Testament, Vol 6
  2. Philosophia Perennis, Vol 2
  3. Satyam Shivam Sundram
  4. Take It Easy, Vol 2
  5. Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
  6. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 2
  7. Revolution in Education
  8. The Secret
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