At our general level of awareness there is often no perceptible or discernible pattern to the flow of events. Partly this stems from having been conditioned into perceiving a particular dominant reality program. We do not have access to objective reality, although there can be moments and instances when glimpses occur. The phenomenon of miracles is an example of this, when the laws of a reality outside of our own intervene/operate within our subjective reality. Likewise, many ancient tales, fables, allegories, etc, are representations of what we refer to as a ‘higher dimension’ operating within our own. Such impulses help us, whether we are conscious of it or not, to re-orientate our perception against the indoctrinated programming. What we often take to be reality is in fact only a very thin slice of a much ‘bigger picture.’
The act of discernment is an inward one; as such, it requires a disciplined focus. Yet as we have seen, modern societies not only do they not cater to such practices, but they also actively dissuade us from approaching them. The result of this is that people in general do not see – or feel – a need for such a discernment. Modern life keeps us occupied and diverted by other pursuits. Unfortunately, it is often the case that ‘shock impacts’ are required in order for us to shift our attention away from the ‘straight path’ of normalized living. And we’ve been living with such a ‘shock event’ for almost two years now since the outbreak of the pandemic. We could see our current predicament from this perspective: that modern life was in need of a ‘crisis point’ within its old patterns for there to arise within people the need for something else. It is in such moments of deep reflection that an inner realization may occur: the recognition that common (i.e., consensus) culture does not provide sufficient meaning for our lives. That is, there is the lack of any transcendental, metaphysical impulse. An awareness of such lack often occurs in times when there is a noticeable deterioration in social and cultural systems. Such recognition – or re-cognition – is not yet dominant among the majority of our modern so-called ‘civilized’ nations. Yet we are soon reaching that tipping point.
For too long we have been absent from the vale of ‘soul-making,’ to quote the poet John Keats. And yet the signs have always been there to guide the way. When our early cave-dwelling ancestors first made their handprints upon the walls of their caves they were signalling to the external world: ‘I am here – I exist.’ The inner spark of the human being was attempting to be heard – to be imprinted onto the outer life. It was an early stage in the expression of an interiorized human consciousness. In each epoch our consciousness perceives and interprets reality in a particular way. How we experience the reality around us influences our perception of it, and vice-versa. This is why our perceptions have always been a target for direct manipulation – it is our reality-sensing software.
As part of our steps toward discernment we can begin by a recognition of the following factors: i) acknowledgement of one’s situation and the need for self-development and/or life adjustment; and ii) the need for partial detachment from one’s social and cultural conditioning and external influences. By recognizing these two factors a person can make the first step to self-aware discernment. A gradual de-conditioning of the social personality (the persona) helps to develop a detached perspective and to see external impacts for what they are. In order to see and think clearly, we need to methodically de-clutter our social personality. Then, and only then, can a conscious step be taken toward inner freedom and genuine liberty. That is, the old patterns must become less determined, dogmatic, and fixed. Then through this space, where old belief patterns have left their moorings, can new perceptions emerge. As this process gradually unfolds it is important that each person stays grounded in the world – in their everyday lives – and not to entertain themselves with amusing fantasies or unwarranted intoxications. Furthermore, it is important to remember that in all we do we should be in harmony and balance, and not in conflict with our everyday life. Our dignity and decency is not in what it has achieved, nor what it is, but in what it can become. And this is a choice each person can make.
As in everything in our lives, we make a choice. When it comes down to basics – which it inevitably must do – then we find that we have a fundamental choice between living a life in Love or in Fear. In other words, if we choose Love then we side with compassion, empathy, creativity, connection, support, sharing, and resilience. And if we choose to align with the Fear then we give ourselves over to control, manipulation, anxiety, and vulnerability – all the expressions of a culture of oppression.
If we ascribe to a life lived as islands of separation, then inevitably we learn (or are conditioned) to place our trust externally upon a range of institutions; these may range from religious, work/career, social, educational, political, etc. And if these institutions fail us then we naturally feel vulnerability, or even betrayed. And yet the truth of the matter is that we betrayed ourselves in the first place by outsourcing our trust. If we live a life relying upon external systems, then we must be prepared to feel distraught should those external systems break-down. In such times of great transition, such as now, these social institutions are themselves very fragile. Further, many of these systems are now revealing themselves to be corrupt – or being utilized by corrupt human agents. Right now, I would say that we are witnessing the ‘great unravelling’ of many of our once trusted systems. We are seeing head-on the undoing of many dishonest, unethical, and toxic structures that inevitably can no longer serve our interests. This unravelling is revealing that our sense of vulnerability is partly the dismantling of our false assumptions. And further, that our sense of vulnerability is the fear of letting go. It is important to be open to receiving information, even if it is of the disagreeable kind. Yet in being open to such information does not mean we should adopt a position of fear. We have to make a choice of not accepting, or adopting, these external aspects of fear and toxicity. They do not ‘belong’ to us.
In knowing this, we are compelled to seek out those experiences that feel real to us, and which can assist us in developing as human beings. If there is a ‘truth’ to be discerned, then it must surely come not through artificial constructs but through our everyday personal experiences. To understand that which we call the ‘self’ is only a construct until we can experience it through the revelation brought about by others. Alone, we are unable to ‘see’ the self – no more than we can see our own faces. And just as we need a mirror in order to view our face, so too do we need other people and experiences in life to be as mirrors to reveal the workings of the inner Self. In the end, it is our participation in life that shall teach us the discernment we need to tell truth from falsehood. No online course or TV program can teach us this. Let us not back away from ourselves – let us invite us closer in.