Hello all! I hope you had a great week and are enjoying your weekend. I enjoy these posts on Saturday, because spirituality covers so many topics and is easy to write about.
I like writing about spiritual things. Spirituality is a huge part of my life. The challenge with writing a public blog, however, is the difficulty with writing about this topic without proselytizing.
So today, I’d like to talk about a topic that touches everyone and is one of the key virtues of my religion. There are actually five virtues my religion focuses on. They are: discrimination, tolerance/forgiveness, contentment, detachment, and humility. So, what I’m going to do for the next five weeks is to discuss these virtues one by one.
Discrimination has many definitions. The definition for the virtue of discrimination is the ability to discriminate between one thing and another. The definition we will not use in this discussion is the prejudices and racism also associated with this word.
So discrimination. What is it? Why is it a virtue that should be pursued? Discrimination is the ability to be able to tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong. It is also the ability to tell the difference between truth and illusion. Both are pretty important, wouldn’t you agree?
The challenge with the virtues my religion asks us to strive for is caused by our ever-changing consciousness or awareness. This means that right and wrong evolve, just like truth and illusion. So you never achieve discrimination entirely. There is always something to learn. We call this the “plus factor”. The plus factor refers to the reality that there will always be something to strive for, to search for, to achieve. Subsequently, we are never “there”. There is always a new mountain to climb spiritually.
Well, Dave, that’s all fine and dandy, you say, but how does this help anyone spiritually? You have a virtue called discrimination, but you never achieve it. What kind of sense does that make? In response, I’d say that if we ever discover an end point to our growth, a finish line, so to speak, what happens then? Can you imagine a finite place where everything you are is finished, completed? Can you imagine how boring that place would be, particularly if you can also imagine a place that is infinite in nature?
I don’t know if you ever saw the Twilight Zone episode about the gangster who went to heaven, but it illustrates my point. There’s an episode where a gangster is killed in a street fight. The gangster winds up in a deluxe hotel room and is met by a man in white. The man in white appears and tells the gangster that he just has to sign the dotted line and he’ll be given whatever he wants. The gangster does, and he wins every gambling game, has access to the most beautiful women, who never turn him down, and he shoots holes in one for every hole he negotiates on the golf course available to him. He can’t lose. After a while, he asks for the man in white to come to him. The man in white does. He asks, “This place is so boring. I win at everything. There’s no chance to lose, and it takes the enjoyment out of everything. If heaven is going to be like this, I’d rather be in hell.” (paraphrase) The man in white replies, “Who said it wasn’t?” Laughing hysterically as the gangster realizes that he’s signed away his soul to the Devil and stuck here for eternity.
This is what it would be like if heaven or nirvana or any other name you give to this place were finite. There would be no striving, no improving, just the same thing over and over again. Luckily for us, this is not the truth. Everything is continually evolving, but the evolution will never stop. We never stop growing and evolving.
So, our ability to discriminate more clearly improves or declines as we evolve and grow spiritually or fall backward. Yes, there’s that too. Our spiritual growth is not a one-way street. We can grow or fall back. Each lesson we are handed helps this process. We make a bad choice and learn from it. We make a good choice and we learn from it. The purpose of making good choices is to learn how to live our lives in a more balanced way. The higher we go spiritually, the more terrain we can “see”. This, in turn, allows us to get a better picture of our surroundings and make “better” choices.
To illustrate, imagine you are in a jungle that is so thick you can only see a few feet in front of you. Now, change your position. Now you’re in a tree at the top of the jungle canopy. Now you are in a position that can see further ahead. By being in this position, you can see where a river is or where fruit trees are. The height gives you an advantage so that your choices are more efficient and accurate.
This metaphor illustrates why spiritual growth is important. When you are in the “dark” spiritually, you’ll bang your knees on furniture or trip over a foot stool you can’t see. When you turn the lights on, it is easy to negotiate your way to the door at the other side of the room.
By making better choices, we earn a higher place to make our decision from. We know when we have made a good choice because things turn out well for us and those around us. We also know when we have made a bad choice. Things turn out bad for us and those around us. Ultimately, we begin to learn that good choices benefit others and ourselves.
Until next time…