Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

on fear, courage, condemnation, and discernment

December 8, 2012
When I notice something unfamiliar, I may experience curiosity… or fright!  Whenever I fear something (familiar or unfamiliar), I may eventually say “that should not be,” which is a frightened judgment (based on the prior feeling of fear). 
I can even fear the loss of something, like in the case of jealousy… with a fear of the loss of a relationship, which is a specific kind or worry or anxiety. “What should I do,” I may ask- to prevent what I do not want, to protect my interests/promote my desires.
Scared child

Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A distinct way of relating (besides fearing something and then condemning it out of fear) is to champion something, which could be out of fear as well. I may want to build a dike or levy for protection from flooding (fear of loss due to flooding). I may champion that cause.
Another way of relating is curiosity. I can be curious about developments and patterns and then attempt to discern relationships and trends and make predictions (forecasts).
Now, about the case of certain trends in Arizona or in the US, many may say “I was surprised by them! I still do not like them. I fear the trend that I notice. Further, I blame a particular group (or even a single individual).”
Others may say about the same trends: “I noticed them earlier than most. I studied them. I have some speculations about what is going on and why. I even have some forecasts about what is predictable or at least probable. Here are some alternative actions and the risks and opportunities that I have identified.”
 
 
The first way of relating involves judgments. The second way of relating involves discernment. There may be some ongoing refinement for precision in the case of discernment, but there is no terrified condemnation required.
 
I can say a lot about many trends in Arizona, the US and elsewhere. For now, what I will say is that IF you did not understand them when they happened, THEN you would not have been able to confidently predict them. They would have surprised you. You might have even been disappointed or disturbed or disoriented by some recent developments. So, you might be on the verge of… curiosity (and learning).
 

 

Curiosity

Curiosity (Photo credit: Adam Crowe)

It is interesting how people respond to different statements that I make. People may show no interest or a lot. The interest may be shown through ridicule or enthusiastic conversation. Others may be very interested, but slow to show any particular interest.
 
Yes, certain economic and political trends are changing. No, not every forum or relationship is not a fit for the specific purpose of addressing what is changing and how and why. We can honor the opportunity to show our interests and then to recognize the ways that we show interest (condemnation, ridicule, curiosity, and so on). Okay!

 

- Bear dancing on the bones of the bulls

 

understanding metaphorical parables like the tree of life, the eyes to see and the ears to hear

April 12, 2012
This image depicts the Tree of Life derived fr...

This image depicts the Tree of Life derived from the Flower of Life. Created by sloth_monkey 11:48, 4 November 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "How Language Works"

Cover of How Language Works

Language is amazing. In fact, life is amazing and language is just one of the many amazing parts of life.

If life was like a tree, then we could say that there are stages in the growth of the tree of life. At one point, there may be exactly one trunk with exactly two limbs. Then, at a later point in the development of the tree of life, there might be several limbs, like spreading out in radiating circle from the trunk, right? The two original limbs are still there, not gone, but later there can be additional limbs beyond the original two.

Now, if language was was like a tree, then we could say that language can be divided in to two distinct categories: good language and bad language. Or, we could say that there is proper language and improper language. We could even say that there is proper pronunciation and improper pronunciation. Or we could say that, when babies make sounds, there are sounds of language and sounds of gibberish or nonsense.

Here is an example of another kind of gibberish: no anti-negativity metaphors understanding ears hearing eyes seeing tree life understanding nonsense literal interpretations could bee impossible 42ds53hsf FIVE. So, that was mostly a sequence of recognizable words of the English language, but stuck together in a way that is not especially meaningful, similar to a sequence of numbers like 1240834034. Those are real alphanumeric digits, but that is about all that is identifiable about them, right?

Video: Neva takes up gibberish

Video: Neva takes up gibberish (Photo credit: JasonUnbound)

However, language can be very meaningful. Language allows us to divide life in to categories. We could divide like in to exactly two categories, such as either “proper or improper” as in either “good or evil.” Those would be binary dichotomies of contrasting duality.

For thousands of years, people could have been attempting to point out that language can create exclusive binary categories as well as one-dimensional spectrums. For instance, language can create a categorization of “either only good or only evil,” yet language can also create categories of relativity, like “exactly how good or bad.”

I could say that eating apples is good and eating live bees is bad. I could say that eating fuji apples is best and eating allergic bees is worst. I could say that eating rotten apples is actually not so good and eating a tiny bee larvae accidentally in a honeycomb is really not so bad.

Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1507) given by...

Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1507) given by Christina of Sweden to King Philip IV in 1654. taken from http://www.owenbarfield.com/Images/Paintings/Durer%20Adam%20and%20Eve.jpg see also: http://museoprado.mcu.es/iadan_eva.html (links no longer work, see below) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That would be a one-dimensional spectrum: a relative range between good and bad. So, first there is only good or only evil, which is a binary dualism or dichotomy. That is the first stage in the development of language. Later, there can be spectrums of relativity in language, like brightness, loudness, height, weight, and so on.

We all know that the linguistic construction of “4 pounds” is not inherently better in any particular way than “400 pounds.” We can say mathematically that 400 is 100 times as much as 4, but are we talking about pounds of silver, British Pounds, pounds of body weight, pounds of payload on an airplane or what? That is just a spectrum.

Similarly, linguistic constructions of morality can occur as binary dichotomies of either only good or only evil. Or, they can occur as spectrums of relative value or morality. There could be perhaps 5 distinct ranges in language of moral relativity: morally repugnant, morally unfavorable, morally questionable, morally favorable, and morally excellent.

Could there be 4 categories of moral value or 10? Sure! There is no single “correct” number of moral categories.

Eating Shiva

Eating Shiva (Photo credit: Mirror | imaging reality)

For a child, two categories are how we begin to develop discernment, like the most basic distinction between right and wrong or acceptable and unacceptable or rewarded and punished. Later, we develop discrimination, like assessing between several different alternatives.  Eventually, we recognize that context matters and moral values can change.

We might not wear the same clothes to a wedding or funeral that we would wear to a beach or in the privacy of our own home. That gets in to the issue of discretion and etiquette and so on.

It is not immoral to wear a tuxedo to the beach, but it would be unusual and perhaps inappropriate. However,  someone could have a wedding at a beach and then wearing a tuxedo on the beach at the wedding would not be so unusual.

All values or norms are relative. Relative to what? To social context. In other words, “context is decisive.”

So, along come some wise people who realize that a lot of folks are not clear about what works and how language works. So, they use some metaphors like “the tree of life” to explain how something can have exactly two distinct branches, but then later can have 5 or 6 branches, and later can have dozens of branches spreading in lots of directions.

Linguistic categories can form various numbers of categories. For an infant, it is enough to know “good” and “bad.” As a child grows, they learn to discriminate between several alternatives- not just two- and they can dress themselves and be trusted to pick clothes that not only match the weather, but with each item of clothing matching all of the others. They learn discernment and discrimination and eventually even discretion.

Of course, it would be fruitless to try to explain this to an infant. They do not have the linguistic complexity or intelligence to be familiar with “big words” like distinction and discernment and discrimination and discretion.

In fact, before those particular words existed, wise people could not just use those words. They had to use stories and examples and metaphors and parables- even silly parables.

They said things like “do not get bogged down in categorizing everything as either good or evil. That is a low level of knowledge or comprehension or maturity or intelligence. However, do not discard those categories either. Those categories are valid and useful. Just go beyond fanaticism and fundamentalism and learn to appreciate all of life and even how and why various things are good or evil. First, children just learn to repeat the categorizations they are trained to identify in regard to what actions are good and what is evil or bad or dangerous. Later, someone can learn WHY and WHEN and HOW those actions fit or not. They can learn of the relativism of all things, as referenced in this ancient scripture:”

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

http://bible.cc/ecclesiastes/3-1.htm

They can learn of scriptures like this:

Romans 14:14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced 

 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself,
but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean
//bible.cc/romans/14-14.htm – 17k

Mark 7:18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing 

 Don’t you know that nothing that goes into a person from the outside can
make him unclean Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand? 
//bible.cc/mark/7-18.htm – 17k

They can learn also of these radical statements of “moral relativism.”

Titus 1:15 To the pureall things are pure, but to those who are 

To the pureall things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe,
nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 
//bible.cc/titus/1-15.htm – 17k

Romans 14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. 

 All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 
All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eats with offense. 
//bible.cc/romans/14-20.htm – 17k

Romans 14:2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Here is a much older scripture than those of the old or new testament:

Good and evil of this world of duality are unreal,
are spoken of by words, and exist only in the mind.”
– Bhagavatam, XI, ch. XXII.

Here is a rather recent comment, which even if a frightening and challenging idea for some people, it may reflect the actual experience of many actual people.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare (spoken by the character Hamlet).

John 8:15 ”You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” (Jesus speaking to the orthodox religious leaders)

The one who judges other seeks to glorify himself. (See John 8:50)

“Judge not. Condemn not. Resist not evil. Turn away from evil. Remove the obstruction from your own perception before go poking around in other people’s perception. Yo, chill out, player. Have mercy on their innocent mistaken presumptions, like for your own good, baby, just forgive them and be responsible and clear, clean, open, humble, meek, godly, holy, perfect, pure, dignified. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!”

For those who have the capacity to understand these metaphors in language, let them understand. For those who have the ears to hear beyond their own confusion and fanaticism and fear and idealism, let them hear. For those who have the eyes to see beyond their own arrogance and shame and blame, let them see.

Ezekiel 12:2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people 

“Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but
do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. 
//bible.cc/ezekiel/12-2.htm – 16k

Deuteronomy 29:4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind 

 But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to
understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. 
//bible.cc/deuteronomy/29-4.htm – 15k

Romans 11:8 as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor 

 just as it is written, “GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO
SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY 
//bible.cc/romans/11-8.htm – 17k

Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your 

 Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. 
//bible.cc/psalms/119-18.htm – 15k

Isaiah 43:8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.


Jeremiah 5:21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear:


Ezekiel 2:7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.

Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.


Matthew 13:14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.


Mark 4:12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”


Mark 8:18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?


Luke 8:10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’


John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”


John 12:40 “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.”


Acts 28:26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

<< Ecclesiastes 3 >>
King James Version

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

http://kingjbible.com/ecclesiastes/3.htm

Arbre de la vida

Arbre de la vida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ernst Haeckel's "tree of life", Darw...

Ernst Haeckel’s “tree of life”, Darwin’s metaphorical description of the pattern of universal common descent made literal by his greatest popularizer in the German scientific world. This is the English version of Ernst Haeckel’s tree from the The Evolution of Man (Published 1879), one of several depictions of a tree of life by Haeckel. “Man” is at the crown of the tree; for Haeckel, as for many early evolutionists, humans were considered the pinnacle of evolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

morality over legality

morality over legality (Photo credit: GoatChild)

morality over legality (Photo credit: GoatChild)


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