Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Discernment - knowing what matters

"In fact, one of the most basic forms of training in Athonite spirituality is to learn how to develop diakrisis (discernment), to be able to differentiate that which comes from God and that which comes from Satan, who tries to confuse and disorient the soul aspiring for perfection."

Kyriacos Markides, The Mountain Of Slience, p. 85

Whether one believes in God and the Devil does not change the idea that discernment or critical thinking is an important faculty which human beings, in our contemporary age, seem to have lost as they struggle with the overwhelming amount of information which has flooded our consciousnessess with the proliferation of electronic media.

Unitarian Universalists say that they value the "free and responsible search for truth and meaning" but then provide little help in describing criteria that allows the individual and groups to implement this value. How does one decide what matters?

When I was a member of Rotary International I learned the Rotary 4 way test.

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

These criteria help in deciding upon thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

As we get further into The Mountain Of Silence we will learn more about Athonite spirituality and how to discern God's will for us. Whether we call the evil force, the Devil, or Satan, or simply stupidity, there is no question that we engage in many thoughts and behaviors that are soul damaging and even soul murder. As a psychotherapist I am witness to it all the time. Anger, lust, greed, jealousy, vengeance abound in the form of emotional attack, manipulation, deceit, infidelity, and domination for personal gain.

What would God have me do is a very good question. We would do well to reflect on it more often than we do. If you are seriously interested in what God might want you do you might want to read the Sermon On The Mount.

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