Discernment

7th January 2013

planet-earth light darkDuring the course of our childhood, then our passage into adolescence and adulthood, we learn about how things work here. We learn what foods we like, how to communicate with people and how to behave in order to fit in and get along. We also develop an understanding of what makes us tick and what sort of people we like to be around. With practice and some guidance, we can develop a strong sense of discernment about life, about people and about the environments we find ourselves in. There is a very practical element to this: we may not want to put ourselves in dangerous or unpleasant situations. There is also an element here of discerning what supports and nourishes us, and what diminishes us. For example, imagine being friends with someone who takes our time, attention, energy and love without any capacity for reciprocation. That sort of one-sided relationship is not uncommon. If we do not want to be around people who take from us in this way, then we need to learn discernment and exercise it. In this way, we determine consciously who we “give our energy to” and who we withhold it from.

So how does discernment relate to spiritual practice and energy work? Well, simply put, we must learn how to navigate this new territory and to discern what “works for us” and what holds us back. There are many practical elements to this that relate to how we live and how to chose to work with energy. For example, diet, exercise, hydration and the environment we are in all have an impact on our body’s capacity to connect and work with energy. There are many articles on these aspects of energy work in “Spiritual Fitness” if you want to explore these practical considerations more. There is also then discernment in relation to the energies that we are connecting with and how we chose to interact with them.

The Light and the Dark

It is common practice for people working with energy to sign off with “in love and light”. This is a noble sentiment and goes to the sense of “mission” that many of us carry: we want to spread the word! However, there is a potential pitfall here and it has been a part of the “New Age” movement for a long time. The pitfall is the tendency to focus exclusively on the “light” because the “dark” is either scary or needs to be left well alone. It is almost as if we believe that the “dark” aspects of (our) consciousness will wither and die if we ignore them. It is not as simple as this. This is because all aspects of our consciousness, and that includes our subconscious, find expression through us. Our subconscious beliefs and feelings are merely expressed through sublimation: ie they influence our thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions without our full awareness and understanding. This makes us vulnerable to co-dependent relationships, compulsive behaviours, and (worst case) to manipulation. As we work with energy, all aspects of our consciousness are magnified and become more powerful and alive. This is why there is great risk in ignoring our own darkness and our own subconscious: they too grow more powerful until we chose to address them.

What does this have to do with discernment? Well, as we work with our spiritual practice and our system grows stronger, we are able to hold more energy and this has a greater effect on our lives and on the people around us. We often start to see our unresolved issues being mirrored back to us through our relationships with loved ones, family members, friends and colleagues. This is a wake-up call to address the issue.

So far we have looked at our own systems and how they are affected by the spiritual practice we work with. This is, if you like, an introspective take on things.  There is also the matter of how the energies external to us interact with our consciousness, including its “dark” aspects.  This is a more difficult area and where discernment becomes particularly important.

In a previous post, I described the different ways in which we can perceive energy and the information contained within it – as pure sensation & vibration; as an emotional resonance; through our minds as information and imagery (a tricky area); through our hearing (as music, sound, noise etc); and as visual information (energy fields; color; entities etc). Those modes of perception are the meeting points between our own consciousness (our awareness of what is going on in and around us) and the energies that we encounter through our spiritual practice (as well as in day to day life). My view is that some of these modes of perception should not always be taken at face value. This is because some of these modes of perception are particularly susceptible to the filter of our own consciousness and so can be misleading. Furthermore, some of these modes of perception are very easy to manipulate and so – in our eagerness to “connect” with something that we feel is “greater” or “more spiritual” than us – we risk jumping in feet first without due consideration.

The types of perception that are particularly tricky are, in my experience, what we perceive through our minds as mental information or mental imagery, and what we perceive as visual phenomena. Why is this? Because in these circumstances we are perceiving energy and information that is fundamentally “plastic” in nature: ie it can be manipulated by who or whatever has created it. (If you are interested in understanding the potential scope of this in greater depth, read John Keel’s excellent Operation Trojan Horse, which can be found online as a PDF). In my experience, what is more trustworthy is the pure sensation or vibration of energy and how that feels or resonates with us. If we encounter something that arouses an intense feeling of love within our hearts, then that is a good indication that we can open up more to it and explore further.

So we must learn to exercise discernment as we travel deeper into this area. Maintain an even temperament so that as and when we encounter something we do not like, we do not sink into fear or anger. These emotions often define the things we do not like or want to experience, so feeding them with our own fear and anger is counter-productive. Neutrality is the way forward because from that perspective we can evaluate things calmly and not give away our power or energy to others.

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