When I began my journey deeper into my yogistic life, my instructors used a beautiful metaphor. They would describe the growing spirit as a sapling; and just as the sapling needs supports and protection as it grows, so too does the growing spirit towards enlightenment. Among these supports and protection comes into play the idea of discrimination or discernment in life.
I have often had trouble in my social syndicate regarding my seemingly harsh judgments and ideas. I am a very blunt and matter of fact person. Though I will, when the time calls for it, dress up truths in a more colorful way; often times I have found it easier to just be straight forward with what I am feeling or seeing in another person.
This has caused issues in the past and even harsher judgments on myself from others. Many times this leads me to question my motives behind the conclusions I draw, and many of the ways I conduct my speech and actions. Nonetheless as the past few days have shown me, just because my methods are unorthodox in a culture that tip toes around the egos of others, I have found nothing wanting in the way I conduct my Self. That being said, there are still times in which I find some of these come from the ego and those are the cases where I am not conducting myself correctly.
There are many reasons that I go on in this way. Some of them lend themselves to the idea of getting older and, “not having time to deal with the bs”, others have to do with my ego and fear of being hurt; but mainly I have taken to heart the idea of discrimination and discernment.
Discrimination and discernment do not mean that I walk around and make judgments on people based on superficial reasons. Rather this is the understanding of what has value and what does not. Sridhara Swami explains;
“Discrimination is a mental skill which allows one to differentiate between what has value and is essential and what is non-essential of no value.”
When you take up a spiritual practice you are charged with creating your own methods of discrimination; for you yourself are not just the sapling, but also the gardener and it is your job to find the correct support and protection so that this sapling can grow. What will feed the sapling with the type of soil and environment it is planted? Does it need more or less sunlight? What type of sapling is it? What are the best methods of support? When speaking of a spirit these questions translate to; What spiritual path am I embarking on? Do I learn more from books or people? Should I take classes? Are the things I do currently nourishing or polluting my work?
As we develop our process of discrimination towards our spiritual practice, we are not only better able to see the things in this world that are no longer serving us; but we are also better able to see the path we are to walk down. We can appreciate the world as it is and accept it without engaging in any part that is harmful. Just because one person found divine peace following one spiritual path, does not mean you find any truth in their teachings. Or maybe you find some words ring true to your heart and others do not. Just as because you found spiritual truth in your practice does not mean that your friend finds any comfort in it.
Once the sapling is strong enough to stand on its own, so to may the spirit. When this happens we are more able as beings to stretch ourselves and bring our messages into places where before would have destroyed us. As long as we do this with discernment. Once such example is that of a Bodhisattva who would walk up and down the streets of spiritual pollution hoping to help those trapped by the ego self.
The greatest risk that we run when we embark on a spiritual journey is that we will accept everything at face value. We fail to develop our keenest sense, that of discrimination and discernment. Once we have found our own path and are able to distinguish between what is true for us and not true for us we are better able to see and love the world as it is, for all that it is.
Practice in truth and love ❤