Enhancing discernment

Outside Sedona, Arizona.

Outside Sedona, Arizona.

Leaving prejudice behind

Prejudice is the ego's shortcut. It is less work to go on auto-play and rely on dubious stories one may have been told than to observe facts in the here and now. This explains the existence of popular TV News networks that have been proven to be factually inaccurate. People are not interested in having their integrity called into question or being contradicted by data that does not support a previously held position. We are all guilty of this, to one degree or another. We are only human, and there are only so many hours in a day to become informed.

Yet allowing this seemingly emotionally satisfying judgement to influence public policy or shape public perception is dangerous, and can result in institutionalized injustice and even violence. We must strive to take the more difficult path of being present and listening to the "still small voice" within when we encounter complex situations in our public and private lives. This is called discernment.

When we meditate, we get access to a finer level of feeling. Circumstances that once appeared black and white take on a new tonal range and color. When we gain access to this more nuanced way of being in the world, we become less combative, and the luxury of adopting a "siege mentality" against our fellow travelers becomes less charming to us.

What once appeared a shortcut is revealed to be the "long way 'round" after all. When we take it as it comes and rely on subtle charm to lead us forward, we find we have less wreckage to clear up, and fewer enemies to deal with. It becomes easier to love and to be loved.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

MARK TWAIN, Innocents Abroad