Judgment - 判斷 - Pànduàn
A case of mistaken identity
dooms many innocent men to death-
Flimsy accusations, given weight
from accumulated influence
and the position of high office.
A system of justice, setup
to determine right and wrong
not by the facts of the case,
but by proximity to wealth.
Arbitrary proceedings conclude upon a gavel strike,
the end of a life,
~inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
Do judges possess Tao? Dispassionate by profession, sometimes to the point of cruelty, these men make distinctions based upon arbitrary rules drawn up by men. Can they be truly part of a humanistic vision of Taoism? The answer depends on the context. Is the judge the same kind of Taoist as the wandering monk, or the hermit in love with nature? Obviously not, but no one has the right to pass judgment upon another (so long as the individual does not harm others directly). For those living in society, however, there are a set of rules which one must follow to coexist harmoniously with others.
These laws have been referred to as the Tao of society. Once you are in the world of people, removed from the realm of nature, you will be immersed in dualism and distinctions jump out. Righteousness and mercy achieve meaning in this context. Judgment is the ultimate process by which you can compare ideas, finding agreement or disagreement with the Tao of society. Judgment allows for moral compromise, once the facts have been thoroughly examined. Judges must clearly and wisely make distinctions, in order to find the truth of a matter presented before their eyes.
In the same way, we must all be compelled to examine the ongoing circumstances of our lives. This is part of being human, and embracing Tao will not exempt you from rendering judgments or making decisions. When the final day comes, you will serve as the judge in your own trial. You will be forced to examine your life. Did you do well, or did you squander the precious gift of existence? You MUST decide. ~Deng