Hal & Sidra Stone – On Judgment

Issue 51 –

From Hal and Sidra Stone – On Judgment

From time to time we like to send you responses that Hal or Sidra have written to a particular question from one of their readers. The following dialogue took place initially between Hal and a woman – both a therapist and a writer – who had a question about someone that she was interviewing. Sidra and Hal then used the content of Hal’s letter and expanded it into this somewhat longer article. All names used are fictitious so that the actual identity of the writer is protected.


The Letter


Dear Hal and Sidra,


My interest in the last therapy system I discussed with you is ebbing after lots of responses and dialogues, and I am in the midst a new project, as I approach an interview with Marshall Rosenberg regarding his “Nonviolent communication”. Going into the method deeply, I find I have some serious questions. And, like the last system I studied in depth, I have the feeling it represents a primary self system – this one is a combination of the vulnerable child and an inner lawyer which translates and expresses this vulnerable child’s needs to the world.

I even suspect, having shared some of his work, that Marshall Rosenberg is, for many, the big eternal father figure who allows them for the first time to experience recognition and acknowledgment of their inner children.

I meet many judgments (such as what is good/ and bad in communication) and what I am missing is the recognition about internal inner father/mother selves who can take care of the child’s needs, as well as many other selves with a nurturing energy. I also miss the difference between dialoguing our needs from aware ego vs. dialoguing from the inner lawyer (for the child’s needs).


Personally I feel very sad, that all of our instinctual energies are so strongly judged as fundamentally threatening in this method, the name ‘violence-free’ itself raises big questions within me.

I would very, very much love to hear your understanding of this method vs. the Voice Dialogue Process.

Warmest wishes,



The Answer


Dear Anne,


All approaches to consciousness gain success mainly because someone comes along who has created a system that is based on certain selves. In the beginning Big Mind was based on selves that were more on the spiritual side. This is changing now and is being broadened to use more of the selves in the teaching and training.


In the beginning, however, the wide range of selves were not really taken seriously. Is this bad? We don’t think so at all. Genpo Roshi is a Buddhist Teacher of a very high order. He is not a psychotherapist nor is he interested in becoming one. He is a Zen Master, a Roshi, who is interested in the most passionate way of expanding the scope of Buddhism – of re-thinking and re-configuring the whole base of Buddhist training and learning while still remaining connected to the basic roots of the work. He is having a remarkable impact on the Buddhist community and the consciousness of the world.


“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” had a huge popularity for a few years. It was based on a few selves that have defined males and females in western culture and it hit a chord for many people. Is it bad that John Gray didn’t include all of the other selves? Not at all. He knew what he knew and he did what he did. And he deepened people’s understanding of different selves.


Jung knew very little about relationship work. It simply wasn’t his interest. His connection to the feminine and to vulnerability was fairly minimal. It just wasn’t the world that he traveled in. He lived and taught the Symbolic Life and paved the way for the journey through the unconscious that so many of us are embarked upon. He was a genius – a giant of an intellect. But I would not want to have been the woman married to him.


Which brings us to your question about what is missing in violence-free communication . We would redirect your attention to yourself and why you ask this question – we would look at your judgments of this method and of the man who developed it. This is not the first person who has fallen short of your expectations. You always seem so disappointed when you discover that some leader/teacher has created an effective system of work but that something has been left out – that selves are missing.


In each of the instances above, if you were to write an evaluation of a man or woman who has started a new system or a new approach to consciousness work, you would be able to find “the flaws.” Generally however these aren’t flaws. It just means that the pioneer of the work has a primary self-system and that he or she has created a system of work on the basis of those primary selves.


Why be disappointed that someone doesn’t have all the answers? Why move into a judgmental mode and move into an attack because someone left out this or that and you – as a writer – have a keen eye for discovering these things that are missing? We would say that moving into this place of judgment gives a glimpse of your own primary self-system, of the set of rules carried by the selves in you that run your own life. It would suggest that your primary selves require a certain amount of perfection.


The really great thing about judgment is that when you learn how to work with it you make the most astounding discovery one can possibly imagine. You discover that the core energy of what we judge always is a reflection of one or more of our disowned selves. What a remarkable discovery and what a huge opportunity for ongoing change and redemption. The idea isn’t to kill your judgments – or to transcend them – but to hear them, to listen for them and to be separate from them. Then you have a chance to make the most astounding discoveries.


In the development of the Aware Ego process we learn to surrender to all energies. We learn to worship all the Gods and Goddesses. We learn to embrace all of the opposites that exist within us – though this might take a few incarnations. It goes on forever this process of embracing the selves and learning how to work with them.


When I, Hal, studied Aikido I bowed deeply to my teacher each time I was on the mat and I really meant that bow on the deepest possible level. I bowed to his mastership of the Aikido process. I didn’t need him to be an expert in relationship, nor to know about dreams, nor to be an expert in mythology, nor to be knowledgeable about body-work.


So we suggest to you – and to other writers who evaluate peoples’ work – that that you learn how to bow to these mini-masters and to learn from each of them what you can. Let go of the fantasy that they should know more. They know what they know. They experience what they experience of life and their system is built on that.


In this way you learn to appreciate mastery in a certain area, something done in a special way. And then one day – based on all of these experiences and your own life experience – some day you will begin to formulate your own system of thought and work. But it won’t be built on ideas that are against other people. It will be based on your experience of them as masters – some bigger masters and some smaller masters – and so your own intellectual and emotional architecture will not be based on what is wrong with others but will be an outgrowth of all of your life experiences. And you will be enjoying yourself in all of this, because it is clean rather than rebellious. And you will be enjoying yourself and not taking everything quite so seriously because you won’t have to know everything either. You will know what you know – and you will not know what you do not know.


As we like to point out to anyone who will listen, it isn’t what we say and write that matters the most in the world. It is, instead, who in us says it. The judgmental self that writes or speaks is a very different part of us than someone who writes or speaks from a place of consciousness that is not identified what is wrong with someone or something.


With our very best wishes,

Hal and Sidra Stone