Jennifer, as we were talking about spirit and ego, you asked:
“How to be discerning?”
I agree with Krista‘s beautiful poem (thanks for being present here Krista 🙂 ) saying that quieting the mind reveals spirit. But still, spirit uses the human mind, spirit or consciousness is the human mind, there is nothing else!
In any case, my answer to your question would be that there are many ways to discern, but one that is natural for me is to always notice when I habitually consider something impossible. The “reasons” for the “impossible”, if you listen carefully, are always about something outside of the self. It’s impossible because he/she/it is or does something, because “they” are or do this or that, or because I lack this or that which is not already within me.
Every time I hear myself having that inner dialogue I stop and smile, and remember that whatever the “reason”, it is also in me, in that which I actually am, meaning awareness. If there is a genuine desire to explore in that direction, I then give the issue attention from the intention of finding out if there truly are limits. And if “the world” or/and “the person” start changing accordingly… well, then I smile again, for this too was an impossibility I had agreed to long ago when I identified with a limited point of view. I loved that the authors of YATU also hint to this when they say, somewhere towards the end of the book, that it is up to humanity to continue to explore what can be changed from within the human consciousness. I think we are all doing just that.
I know that Menas is a climate expert and I long for a discussion (and collective action?) about our possibilities to consciously balance our planet’s climate … I have experimented a lot with weather phenomena and I know I’m not the only one.
Dear Ana, you ask:
“what would you say are the criteria for assessing whether an object, thought feeling or situation we observe is “real?”
Well… that’s exactly it! If you can observe it, it isn’t real! As I described above, limits, for example, can be observed. And as soon as one remembers that the observed is not “out there”, meaning separate and independent of the observing I, one realizes that the observed is a creation of mind, meaning not ultimately real. The creations of mind have their own relative reality, and it is fun, for that is what the world is… but nothing of what we see, sense, think, feel, etc is actually real. It is all Maya, the playground of consciousness 🙂
If my thoughts bring up other thoughts in you, dear friends gathered on this playground, I’d love to hear them!