Sunday 22 March 2020

Discernment of motivation (and character) is the key

In navigating through this world - which, as we know, is full of dishonesty and outright lies; manipulation and propaganda; therefore discernment is a vital skill.

Vital in the sense that our lives (especially our eternal lives) depend on it.

And the most important matter to discern is the character and motivation of other-people - the people who are telling us information and what to do.

For obvious reasons; we would wish to be guided only by those who are honest, competent and have our best interests at heart; and Not by those who are dishonest, incompetent, and have malign intentions towards us.

Such discernment is not all that difficult (most of the time), if we have multiple personal interactions with someone over a reasonable period of time - but that is exactly what we do not have.

Lacking multiple personal interactions over a reasonable period of time; our innate capacities tell us we should not trust someone.

Even worse; we have abstract impersonal entities: institutions, corporations and organisations (the government, the something church, the world health organisation, the national health service, the scientists...) - and it is these that are giving us advice and information.

They are composed of a turnover of unknown/ unknowable employees, each acting under orders (i.e. not personally responsible for what they say or do). Hence; bureaucratic institutional abstractions cannot be moral entities, cannot have good character and intention: ought never to be trusted.

Leave aside questions of competence: because we know for sure that competence is a low priority in all major institutions in the world today, and for the past several decades. But even if they were optimally technically competent; our instincts tell us that such vague, changing abstractions as bureaucracies have no responsibility and cannot be trusted. 

So, we find ourselves in a world where we should not trust any of the 'people' whom we are expected to trust - and indeed required (on pain of punishment) - to believe and obey. Even worse; we often know for sure that these persons and insitutions are dishonest, incompetent; and either care nothing for us or actively mean us harm.

This is a plain spiritual fact about the modern condition; but barely appreciated and widely denied.

As is usual in spiritual life; the first step - and perhaps the only possible step - is an honest and valid understanding and acknowledgment of our actual situation - and this is our situation.


Francis Berger said...

Well said! This is always important, but in the here and now it has become vital, in the true sense of the word. The media and public noise will continue to intensify in the coming weeks and months. I am convinced most of it purposefully aims at drowning out or confusing our communication with the Divine. We must be vigilant and keep our radios tuned to the right frequencies, so to speak.

This post is timely for me. I have been thinking about this a great deal over the past two weeks, and I arrived at the following conclusions (for myself, personally), which were inspired by intuition and confirmed by the synchronicity of some song lyrics I happened to to hear:

1. Get life day-to-day.
2. Proceed on a need to know.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FB - Me too. That 'need to know maxim' seems especially relevant; especially when combined wth a confidence that we will be enabled to know, when needed! (So long as our attitude and 'tuning' is right.)

Jacob Gittes said...

I agree with both of you guys above. In fact, most "information" now is actively harmful, and one is better off not "knowing" it at all. Turn it off. Only that which we can experience and personally verify should be taken to be possibly true.

Good luck to everyone here, and God bless you.

Jared said...

I am a person who has never had too much confidence in institutions or in academia. I thought your analysis of modern institutions was right on.
I think life is a balance. We can learn from injustice. We can still learn what are the consequences of our actions.

Bruce Charlton said...

Sean Fowler comment:

@ Francis. ” I am convinced most of it purposefully aims at drowning out or confusing our communication with the Divine. “
That’s exactly the purpose I agree. Keeping us confused and “ addicted to distraction. “ Preventing the will from ever achieving silence”.

I’m going to commit the heresy of of pasting in a large text by another author, which I understand our host has something of an aversion to, but it’s worth just for the expression “ emotional enema” if nothing else. I won’t be in the least bit offended if you decide not to approve it Bruce. It’s from Huxley’s perennial philosophy. Theres tons to disagree with in that book, but I feel he hit the nail on the head here. It was penned I think in 1946 and when you compare the relative quiet of that time compared with the sheer volume of “ noise” that we are subjected with in the present age it becomes even more relevant.

Quote begins..."The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise." [Note from BGC - But the rest of the quote has gone haywire in formatting, with many words runtogetherwithoutspaces...]