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Excerpts about Discrimination

Conceptual Discrimination Divorced from the Ground of Being

More specifically, as we have seen in this book, the dissociation of soul from essence occurs primarily by, and parallel to, the development of normal representational knowledge, which is conceptual discrimination divorced from the ground of Being. Ordinary knowledge develops by the soul abstracting out the outlines of concepts from basic knowledge, and holding their reifications in the mind. Such knowledge develops to greater discrimination as the mind creates more abstract concepts and concepts of these concepts, in an increasing complexity and abstraction. This is exactly how Western thought developed its capacity for greater and greater discrimination that finally led to our science and technology. Ego development occurs basically by taking these reified concepts as real constituents of Reality. The soul identifies with the reified concepts of her own experience of herself, which become her self-representations; by thus defining herself through representational knowledge she loses contact with her essential ground, which cannot be captured in representational concepts.

Disappearance of Discriminations

Once we learn that our being is pure consciousness, it becomes possible for all discriminations to disappear. We abide in pure consciousness so fully that we do not differentiate between essence and ego, between physical and not physical. Consciousness is simply consciousness, independent of all objects, essential or otherwise. In the beginning of the work, our discriminations are so opaque that we need to refine our perception to penetrate that opacity. When we have our attention on the ground of the mind, and at the same time become aware of it without completely identifying with the content of the mind, the objects in the mind become more transparent, until there is only transparency. This transparency reveals to us the state of pure consciousness in which all objects that we have deemed coarse or impure, all that we have felt we had to leave behind, we perceive to be of the nature of consciousness itself.

Discriminating Physical Sensation from Essential Substance

The capacity to sense oneself must become so refined that the individual can discriminate between physical sensation and the sensation of essential substance. It is not enough that the mind be quiet. It is also necessary for the body to be sensitive. The mind can be quiet while the body is deadened. The body has to be awakened so that the center of sensing, the belly center, can be activated. The belly center, or what Gurdjieff called the physical center, is the center of sensing for all parts of the body. It's deepest function is the subtle sensing, the sensing of essential Presence, that the Sufis called the organ for touch.

Discriminating True Nature

The first step is to recognize what True Nature is. This means to distinguish it from more familiar elements in our experience such as thoughts and feelings, sensations and energy. We need to see how it impacts our perception and affects our relationship to our experience. We must know that True Nature is the fundamental nature of experience and understand what that means in order to recognize it as True Nature.
The second step is to understand yourself as True Nature. This means having full discrimination and insight, at the adult level, into who and what you are. It is possible to recognize True Nature—the first step—but not know that it is you. You might think it’s God. Or that it’s an angel who has descended into the room. You experience that this presence is empty and light and luminous, and it feels so different from how you know “yourself” that you think it must be some kind of wonderful angel. You recognize that presence, but you don’t know that it’s you. To understand yourself as True Nature means that you recognize, “That is my nature.” And this occurs not through thinking, but through experiencing.
The third step is to see that True Nature is the nature of everything and to know how it manifests everything. We don’t know how things work because we don’t understand how things are related to True Nature.

Gnosis Can Possess Degrees of Discrimination

The question of the status of mystical knowing is clarified when we appreciate basic knowledge. Becoming aware of what is called mystical knowledge is the opposite operation from the development of discursive knowledge. Basic knowledge is being and discrimination at the same time. Discursive knowledge develops by emphasizing the discrimination aspect of basic knowledge, while mystical knowledge emphasizes the direct feel and touch of basic knowledge. It focuses on its Being side. In reality, basic knowledge is gnosis—the common word for direct knowledge of Reality—especially when it is not patterned by ordinary knowledge. Gnosis can possess degrees of discrimination, depending on how much we focus on the discriminating outlines in the field of knowledge. The less we focus on these demarcations and the more we are immersed in the direct feel of the field, the more that gnosis will be mysterious, intuitive, even vague and indiscernible. Gnosis can be divested of its discriminating characteristics such that only a bare minimum remains; this involves deep, direct experience, usually without the capacity to say much about it. This movement toward knowledge without discrimination goes as far as total mystery, where we are touched deeply, totally immersed in the depth of awareness with no content, or even with no sense of awareness.

Minute Discrimination of Inner Touch

The inner touch can become very precise in its discrimination of these textures in the soul. For instance, you can feel the Water Essence—the quality of human vulnerability—as a crystal-clear stream of water washing you from the inside. But you can also feel it on the subtle lataif level as water vapor, on a deeper level in the fuller form of regular water, or on the diamond level, in the solidified form of an ice crystal. You can discriminate all of these experiences just through sensing the different textures with the sense of inner touch. For this subtle sense to awaken, however, our usual perception of our physical body must first become quite refined. This means increasing the sensitivity not only to our skin but also to whatever is inside our body—the muscles, organs, and so on. When the subtle sensitivity is highly developed, you can travel the entire journey using only the inner touch, because you can discriminate very minutely with it.

Recognizing the Many Forms in Which Presence Manifests

This discriminated and discriminating property of the essential dimension, and of the Essence of the self, makes it possible for us to recognize the many forms in which Presence manifests. This capacity is a reflection of the wisdom of discrimination, of the nous dimension of Presence. Our understanding is that the capacity of discrimination exists fundamentally on the ontological dimension of Presence, and it remains the same property or capacity in other dimensions but we do not see its reality because we have lost contact with Presence. In the experience of self-realization, this property gives the self a capacity for discrimination of such precision and sharpness that it is inconceivable in the conventional dimension of experience.

The Discriminating Property of the Essential Dimension

This discriminated and discriminating property of the essential dimension, and of the essence of the self, makes it possible for us to recognize the many forms in which presence manifests. This capacity is a reflection of the wisdom of discrimination, of the nous dimension of presence. Our understanding is that the capacity of discrimination exists fundamentally on the ontological dimension of presence, and it remains the same property or capacity in other dimensions, but we do not see its reality because we have lost contact with presence. In the experience of self-realization, this property gives the self a capacityfor discrimination of such precision and sharpness that is inconceivable in the conventional dimension of experience. This element of the essential dimension contributes to its aesthetic quality, the beauty and indescribable majesty of essential manifestations. The view of the structures of manifestation in all its dimensions, perceived through all the modalities of perception, is breathtaking.

The Need to Function on all Levels of Discrimination

To effectively and fully operate using the Diamond Guidance, we need to be able to function on all levels of discrimination. It is important to have intellectual discrimination, for example, not because we are primarily intellectual, but because intellectual discrimination is necessary for describing a feeling, a sensed discrimination, or a perceived one. It is also necessary to have emotional and sensate discrimination to appreciate the subtleties in our lived experience. The Diamond Guidance, in the arising of basic knowledge, gives us the discrimination on the essential level—the spiritual level—but it also sharpens our discrimination on all the other levels, because it is the prototype, the Platonic form, of the capacity for discrimination in general.

True Discrimination of the Diamond Guidance

The Diamond Guidance functions as a source of pure and real knowledge, new basic knowledge, completely fresh discrimination. Because it is made up of elements that are each gnostic, or direct, knowledge about an essential aspect, the Diamond Guidance becomes a source of knowledge about anything it touches in our experience. Real knowledge is not only basic knowledge, but basic knowledge that is free from ordinary knowledge and that originates in reality. The Diamond Guidance also functions as a capacity for true discrimination. Because each aspect is now discriminated objectively and precisely, the Guidance, which is the vehicle formed of these aspects, has a profound and precise capacity for discrimination. It can discriminate the false from the true, and it can distinguish various shades of truth as well. We already have a capacity for discrimination in the conventional dimension—we call it intellect. That capacity for discrimination deepens and becomes much sharper when the Diamond Guidance affects our consciousness. In some very real sense, our ordinary capacity for intellectual discrimination arises from the Diamond Guidance. The degree to which our discriminating intelligence has developed, however, depends on how in touch we are with this diamond manifestation of Being. The farther away from it we are, the less sharp our capacity for discrimination is.

Vital Participation of the Heart in Creative Discrimination

This brings us back to the discerning and knowing capacity of presence itself—the higher intellect, essential nous, or what we call “diamond guidance”—which reveals that freedom has other meanings and other horizons. The thing that we need to understand about this discerning capacity is that it discriminates not only our knowledge and the content of our mind but also our direct experience. It discriminates the immediacy of what we are experiencing by discerning, seeing, and revealing what is there. It can extract the meaning and the implications of the experience, which in any experience of true nature are countless and varied. When I say “higher intellect” or “divine mind,” many people misunderstand and consider these to be mental faculties. But the heart is vital to this kind of creative discrimination. The functioning of this capacity actually happens through the unity of mind and heart because without love, there would be no compassion or sensitivity to the mind’s discernment. The creative discrimination of presence is activated by the participation of the heart. This discrimination arises according to true, deep, existential need and only when we have the right orientation—a loving desire to know the truth. As I said before, this capacity of presence to discriminate experience transforms life into a process of discovery and revelation. This presence is not our mind, is not our feelings, is not our body, although it makes use of all of these; it is its own truth. It is an intelligence that brings not only discernment and understanding but also creative discrimination. What makes the discrimination creative is that the moment we make a discrimination, we are seeing an implication, which reveals another possibility of experience that opens another insight, another experience, or another whole dimension of knowing and being.

When Discrimination is Only Appearance, Ultimately Unreal

It is possible to see the Personal Essence as a concept, as not having a final reality. This is the perception of the nonconceptual aspect of Being, the supreme unknowable ground of reality. It is the experience of absolute oneness in which there are no discriminations, as Lao Tzu says above. All forms are seen to exist only as concepts, and hence are taken not to have a separate existence. All duality is absent in this realization. However, from this perspective, not only the Personal Essence is seen to be a concept, but so are love, compassion, consciousness, awareness and so on. In other words, from the perspective of the supreme reality of the undifferentiated aspect of Being, all aspects of Essence are seen to be conceptual (as well as, for that matter, the entirety of the physical world, including the body). Only the unqualified Being exists, and differentiation and discrimination are only appearance, ultimately unreal.This is the nature of the experience of the nonconceptual reality of Being, of Being-as-such. This experience also feels so real, so profound and so comprehensive that it has a flavor of finality to it. It is experienced as an objective fact.

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