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“Before you speak, think - Is it necessary?  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Will it hurt anyone?  Will it improve on the silence?”  -Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Discernment: The Big D - Part 1 PDF Print E-mail
The Big D – Part One

by Rev. Sue Annabrooke Jones

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts

Years ago, when I first began giving written Life Purpose Readings, I was surprised to discover how many of my clients were here on this Earth to increase their powers of discernment.
Not exclusively, of course, they had taken embodiment for other important reasons. Yet the need to develop more discernment was written into their sacred contracts as firmly and clearly as all their other spiritual goals, obligations, and intentions.

Wishing to serve my clients better, I decided to add some commentary on discernment. But try as I might, I could say very little that was worthwhile on the subject. I revisited passages that I had read in various metaphysical and spiritual texts. But while they all emphasized the importance of exercising discernment, none offered any useful information about it, or on how to cultivate it. So I resolved to dig in and learn for myself something about discernment and to record my observations in a journal.

What follows are some of the basic understandings I have gleaned on the subject thus far. Many of these points will either seem obvious or of little practical value to some readers, but in the interest of thoroughness, I’ll include them here anyway.

Discernment Defined
The term discernment, as you may know, has two definitions, one being to perceive or  to mentally grasp something. The other, the one this article concerns, is the ability to draw fine distinctions, or to discriminate, between one thing and another.

An Example of Discernment
The 1948 classic American film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House offers up a festive example of discernment. In the “Mrs. Blandings Chooses Paint Colors” scene, Myrna Loy’s character walks the contractor through the family’s new home, delivering hilarious, hair-splitting color hue descriptions. (The living room, she insists, should be “a soft green. Not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds.” The powder room? It should match “this spool of thread ... which, as you can see, is practically an apple red, somewhere between a healthy Winesap and an unripened Jonathan.”)

What Discernment Is
Discernment might be viewed as a mental skill that stretches across the panorama of one’s consciousness and spills over into eternity. (A discussion of the spiritual implications of discernment will appear in the second part of this article.)

How Discernment Presents Itself

The ability to see fine gradations usually blends effortlessly into everyday reasoning, often passing for what we typically regard as common sense. But at times when we must pause to examine a situation more closely and  apply discernment with focused intention, it piggybacks on those mental processes we generally regard as taking a closer look, examining the details more carefully, or reading between the lines.

Discernment Can Be Value-Based

Often discernment interfaces with our personal value systems. For example, in cases where we have wide latitude of free will, we can choose to judge a situation as “weird,” or shrug and say whatever and walk away. At times when we are obliged to apply discernment (e.g., in public speaking, where one must answer a narrowly focused question), we must put some mental effort into it. In both instances, what we care about, what we value, are called into play.

Factors That Influence Our Powers of Discernment
Our ability and our willingness to discern is constantly in a state of flux, depending on our age, our personality type, the condition of our health, the extent of our activities, our everyday ups and downs, how much we have going on at any given moment, and countless other factors, exoteric and esoteric, too numerous to mention.
How We Learn to Discern
Discernment can be learned naturally, that is to say, unintentionally. A child might learn discernment by growing up with a parent who possesses the ability to perceive fine distinctions and who verbalizes those observations generously. (How charming and amusing it is to hear a child mimic his or her parent’s pattern of thinking and verbal style of self-expression.)

What about grownups?  An adult can spend a lot of time around someone with well developed powers of discernment and learn to draw fine distinctions through “osmosis.” Our qualities do tend to rub off on to others.
An adult might also advance his or her ability to discern (indirectly, and over a period of time) by working in a field that demands a high degree of precision with weights and measures or with the accurate application of force. Pharmacists, laboratory scientists, civil engineers, and individuals who work with explosives come to mind as examples here.

And of course discernment can be cultivated intentionally, a topic that will be covered in the second part of this article.

A Fun Fact From the Irony Department
In every situation calling for discernment, the degree of discernment required depends on the situation. Yet it is discernment itself that makes the call.

The Importance of Discernment

Without powers of discernment, we cannot grasp precise understandings.

No soul can achieve self-mastery within the human experience without developing powers of discernment to a high degree.

Discernment figures into our lives in profound and far-reaching ways. It might even be said to affect everything we think and do.

For these reasons, I have come to think of discernment as “The Big D.”

In the next issue of the Isis Scrolls, we’ll examine some of the ways discernment touches three important areas of our lives:  work, relationships and spirituality.

By the way, the Blandings film clip referenced above runs about two minutes in length and is up on YouTube.com. Enjoy this uplifting scene in glorious black and white (and however many shades of gray you care to discern.)

Rev. Sue Annabrooke Jones is a metaphysical minister, a certified life coach, a gifted psychic-intuitive, a life purpose specialist, and a power animal specialist. She leads a weekly Transmission Meditation group at Isis. Visit her website at www.Life-Purpose-Readings.com.

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