Students who excel in academics are the ones that really listen to what the professor says. It is so easy to tweak or distort what the real message is. To stay true to it and work with it until you really know it from within yourself is not so simple. Commonly, you read it, ‘get it’, and then move on with your distorted version of it (a.k.a. “the I get it syndrome”).
Now enter the real world. Suddenly there are a multitude of diverse opinions pushing and pulling you in all different directions. The natural inclination is to pick and choose what you like from each and distort or reject what you do not like in each. This leaves the bulk of your distortions, biases, and limitations of thoughts and emotions perfectly intact.
Needless to say, weight loss guidance is a great example. Who do you listen to? Well, at least in that arena, you can try diverse approaches until you find what actually works. However, that too requires giving each approach a chance… which leads us back to the challenge of listening. Of course, then you only need to listen for a few weeks or so before you have definitive results.
Now enter the spiritual arena. Real spiritual progress is not as easy as weight loss. Real spiritual progress is more abstract and also takes more time. Of course, people cling to superficial things to try to convince themselves they are growing spiritually. But real spiritual growth is something much deeper and far more elusive than a sugar coating! Yet there are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there walking the sugar coated walk and encouraging you to do the same. There are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there offering limited, simplistic, or distorted spins on the knowledge. Even the writings of truly great Masters have been lost in translation or in your interpretation. For sure, the spiritual arena in this age is a real mess. Even more disconcerting, it seems most everybody from the atheist to the self-proclaimed spiritual scholar is certain that their understanding is the correct one!
So now, how hard is it to listen? Who do you even attempt to listen to? The process of determining that is called discernment. You may want to try it out on something easier than spirituality and see how you do. Explore for example, your convictions on diet. Every time I bring that topic up in a group, the passions and convictions run wild… so many strong opinions. Do not feel alone in this. I experience it also when I read something from a new diet or exercise guru. But I do my very best to discern.
Can you let go of your current indoctrinations? It is not so easy. Even when you think you are listening and decide that you ‘get it’, well, do you… do you really? Even when you think you are listening, even when you think you are being discerning, well, are you… are you really? Is what you are hearing resonating or conflicting with your bias or the truth that lies deep within you? The normal inclination is to believe that your bias is actually truth. But is it… really?
Discernment is not done with just the mind. It is certainly not done with just the emotions. It is not a matter of the mind rallying around the emotions to create a rationalization to justify your reactions. You need to start on steady ground… unbiased, unconditioned, open, refined in feelings, and free, while solid, balanced, reflective, rational, and willing to take a look, not just at the information, but even more importantly, how you receive and process that information… what it resonates with or clashes with inside you and why!! Are you reinforcing your biases or are you moving beyond them? Only as you explore this, will you begin to cultivate your ability to discern, will you begin to cultivate your ability to listen, to know how to listen, and what/who to listen to. As Adi Shankara said, the spiritual path is the path of discernment.
In the Does Your Life Have Context blog, I promised a handful of essential points. Discernment is point Number One.
Fundamental Principle # 2: The Unified Field
Fundamental Principle # 3: Structure
Fundamental Principle # 4: Mapping
Fundamental Principle # 5: Personification Of
Fundamental Principle # 6: The Reality Continuum
You triggered a very interesting action plan. I will be noting all points of view that are contrary to mine and start some form of discernment alon the way. Thanks.
Thank you so much for your beautiful words, all of them.
It is a blessing to even have a plan! So much work ahead…let us begin.
I am curious as to what physical fitness, to me a very superficial level of existence, has to do with spirituality and personal evolution. I know that the process is ridiculously physiological, but if I’m not mistaken we are talking nervous systems here. All this talk about HAMs makes me laugh. Most HAMs are PIGs. I eat HAMs for breakfast. They are all bark and no bite. They are compensating for some insecurity, and are trying to prove something to themselves and the world. I have nothing to prove and nothing to hide. So what if I don’t have the best cardio or the most impressive physique. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. I am fighting as hard as I can for spiritual liberation for myself and the world. All this control, manipulation, and slavery MUST stop. Everyone, start the Surya meditation. Come to class. Come to retreats. Change global consciousness. We can do this.
It has been said that if the benefits of proper diet and exercise could be put into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed medication on the planet. Enough said…
Too bad there is no perfection in the relative. Too bad big pharma and health care don’t have the best intrests of their patients in mind in their business models. Enough said…
Important to build holding space and a second response to allow time for reflection. Creating that space alone is daunting. Meditation is key, yet I fritter away my time on the most trivial things instead.
An excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s Complete Works: ‘This body is the boat which will carry us to the other shore of life. It must be taken care of.’ Seems like good advice from a knowledgeable person; someone in the know : ) Just saying.
Seems like discernment is first received by the physical, five senses, processed by the brain to a logical understanding. But its also or maybe only a 6th sense intuitive feeling understanding, later rationalized. Either way the body has to be the receiver and processor of every thing we hope to receive so the better able I am to be aware and awake and alert and alive and pain free the better it all seems to me. But there are a lot of things to get out of the opposite, and many things beyond our control, but its good to know which way is north.
ORIGIN late Middle English : via Old French from Latin discernere, from dis- ‘apart’ + cernere ‘to separate.’
Thanks for doing this it looks to be fun. John
Apology to Brahmarshi. I was in first response. I was in my stuff. I’ve been in my stuff since the last class. I’m trying my best to work though it. I will try my best to get a physical exercise program going. It can only help. Please excuse my small self.
It is interesting to me how my relationship with food and eating “shows” me aspects of my subconscious. E.g. I’d like to think I am a healthy, conscious person, but I find myself eating unnecessarily in response to stress, or eating sugar as a way to “give myself a break.” So my literal, physical diet illustrates my relationship with life… My mental/emotional diet. It makes me ponder: What do I take in from the world that may be unnecessary and harmful? How do I “digest” or process life’s experiences? I also find it interesting that it seems to require a healthy “inner” diet to follow a healthy food diet. Therefore, working on my relationship with food and eating would also build a healthier mental/emotional diet. Ah!
Two of the greatest gifts we can give another are time and space. I know you pretty well and was happy to give you the time and space you required to come back into balance. Everyone goes out of balance from time to time. What really matters is how able and willing one is to acknowledge it when it happens and come back into balance… the sooner the better. Well done, Geoff.
Also note that I was using physical fitness as an example of how the universal principles apply to everything and how we gain insight into our relationship with anything [e.g. spiritual growth] by exploring our relationship with anything else [e.g. physical fitness]. Though I do believe proper diet and exercise are very worthwhile, the choice to pursue that or not is yours and yours alone. My purpose of discussing it in a bog what to show how I employ the principles as a matter of course, no matter what I am doing. Real spirituality is not one piece of the puzzle. It is the big picture that applies to every single piece.
Beautiful comments! Reading everyone’s input makes this blog so much richer than it already is. Thanks everyone for their willingness to share.