This episode covers spiritual discernment, in other words, basing decisions on principles as well as facts. It's a balance. This episode talks about what those spiritual principles are and describes them in practical ways.
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discernment, or how to make totally awesome decisions!
Welcome to Fearlessly Feral Living! Broadcasting to you from the Woogie Ranch, out here in the back 40 of northwestern Nevada, where I’m a half hour away from the nearest gas station and grocery store! This is a podcast devoted to using New Thought principles to ensure successful creative living. Fearlessly Feral is a focus ministry of Centers for Spiritual Living and is devoted to the vision of a world in which everyone lives Fearlessly Feral, or - wild and free.
We blend spirituality and psychology to work from the inside out to promote successful wild and free living.
Our MISSION is to provide a strong and unshakeable inner foundation that works for long term successful living.
Our PURPOSE is activating inner self awareness to live unlimited lives. We do this by talking about spiritual principles in practical ways so they are applicable to every day living.
Let’s talk about discernment shall we? Making totally awesome decisions and not only that but trusting your decision making ability!
So let’s dive in.
According to Linda Martella-Whitsett in the book Divine Audacity, “Discernment is the ability not to rely upon facts but upon principles in decision-making.” Yep, starting out with a whammy here. Imagine relying upon principles and not facts in your decision making process!
Now, if you are a practical sort of person and like to do things like look at budgets and projections and make pro and con lists and put them into an excel spread sheet and then observe how nicely everything lines up on paper, such a thing as basing decisions on principles may not only be foreign to you, it might cause you to stop listening to this podcast and run away, never to listen to one of my podcasts again. But I encourage you to stick around, for I have discovered that a nice blend of weighing facts with spiritual principles is a really nice way to live fearlessly feral. So let’s take a dive into this.
The problem with considering the possibility that we base our decisions on principles rather than facts is that culturally, we are taught just the opposite. Remember those early conversations with the parental units? You know, the ones where you informed them you were thinking of being an artist when you grew up and they responded with, “you can’t make any money doing that. Why don’t you get a job as a secretary?” And yes, I know that if I were male they wouldn’t have suggested that. They might have suggested mechanic or something. Misogyny still exists and did back then as well. But that isn’t what my podcast is about today, although if you are searching for what you want to be when you grow up (no matter your age), you may want to consider the effect societal limitations like misogyny have on you, and take a really good look at whether you want to have those same kinds of beliefs. Anyway, back to my topic. I don’t know about you, but that sort of thinking, that thinking that said we should find employment based on how much money we could make and not on our passions, our desires and our strengths, never made sense to me. Somehow, intuitively, I knew that wasn’t for me. Back then I had not yet learned about new thought and things like the law of attraction and the creative power of our minds and the fact that we are at choice simply by training our minds and directing our thoughts. I not yet learned the truth that doing something for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or more, just to bring home money, is not a good way to live. I just KNEW there was something wrong with the picture my parents were presenting me.
Because yes, like most, my parents were are taught to base decisions on facts, not principles. And they were taught that women did certain things and men did certain other things. They were taught to look at the bottom line. Can you pay the bills with that? Again, especially if you have kids and are the only breadwinner in your family and have no nest egg, I am not advocating quitting your day job. What I’m saying is that if you can dream it, it is achievable, and considering that dream a possibility opens up channels to make it a reality. Channels you never even imagined. Considering our dreams makes impossible things possible.
I never had kids, and although I have always been the primary breadwinner in my little family of one plus fur babies, and I always insisted on paying my share of the household expenses when I was married, I was always a bit outside the box. In fact, some folks like to say that I don’t even have a box! If you are wanting to do something that THOSE PEOPLE are saying can’t be done, there are other factors to include besides the bottom line. In my experience, facts and things like the bottom line are only a small part of the decision making process. Basing decisions on spiritual principles is the way for us to ultimately accomplish our highest purpose in life, our soul’s calling. If you like to use such phrasing, I’m saying that basing decisions upon spiritual principles is the way to do God’s will in our lives. And I can’t believe I just referred to God in the third person, because I don’t normally do that, but I recognize that many people use this phrase, so there you have it. If you like it, use it.
So! If we are basing our decision making process on spiritual principle or principles rather than facts, then it is helpful to know what spiritual principles are. And I have a handy list of them, because they are taught in a CSL class called…..wait for it…..wait for it….Spiritual Principles and Practices. It’s a great class, I’ve taught it before. Here’s the list of spiritual principles according to CSL in this class: Oneness, Love, Creation, Threefold Nature, Creative Process, Spiritual Beings, Freedom, Heaven, Eternal Life.
Now, is that the only list of spiritual principles in existence? Absolutely not!
Here’s another: Honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, unconditional love, justice, perseverance, spirituality, service. If you recognize these, you are one of my kindred spirits, because these are the principles behind the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Now, thinking in terms of principles can sometimes lead one to also think of things like woo woo and airy fairy. So I want to bring it back to earth a bit. Think of principles as sort of like mission statements. Businesses and organizations create mission statements, and if they are behaving in integrity (another principle!) they don’t do anything unless it fits within the parameters of the mission statement. Every potential decision gets run past that mission statement. If it fits, it’s ok. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
The cool thing is, we get to decide what our principles in life are. This is a good exercise for us to do, because it tells us much about ourselves, and in knowing ourselves better, we know God better, because of the spiritual principle of Oneness, which says that god is everywhere present, including and especially in us and as us!
See how I did that? Spiritual principles always begin and end with oneness. And depending on what we do or do not believe about oneness, it has a lot of ramifications as to how we live our lives.
For me, oneness means a couple of things: it means that there is one god, spirit, stuff that is, universe or force. I don’t care what you call it. And part of that equation is that god is everywhere present. In and as all things. A part of me. And I’m a part of it. It is not a separate guy in the sky type of thing. All sorts of cool things result from this. For example, it means that because I am a part of god and it is a part of me, guess what? I have the power to create what I wish in my life, the same power that god has. My word has power. Remember this as we continue our discussion on spiritual discernment in the decision making process.
The other part of oneness is that because god is everywhere present and in me, it is also in you and yes, that guy, and yes even THAT person over there. You know. THAT one. God is everywhere. And so if we are busy judging or attacking THEM because they are idiots, guess what? We are also attacking ourselves in some way because, one. And this also means that if one segment of the population is disenfranchised or limited because of bigotry and prejudice, we are all hurting just as much. Diversity and inclusion is essential, because of oneness.
So, I believe in oneness. I’ve become empowered behind embodying oneness in my life. Oneness is the foundation upon which all other things build in my life. All my decisions and all my beliefs stem from my belief in oneness. Always, oneness. It doesn’t matter if I am considering such a life changing decision as what to do for a living, or something a bit less large than that, such as whether or not to go to that social gathering. Oneness is that thing that tells me that because God, or Spirit, or whatever you want to call it, is everywhere present, it is also present in me. Not only that, but I am present in It. We are one. In fact, just for your contemplative pleasure, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we humans are the way that god gets to experience the physical. Yep, I will repeat that: we humans are one of the ways that god gets to experience the physical. How on earth can I say such a blasphemous thing? Well, I believe in oneness. It if it true that god is everywhere present, then It is present in me. And I’m a physical being. Hence, god experiences the physical through me. So oneness as a spiritual principle tells me that I had better be the best little godling I can be during my time on earth.
Now, what does this have to do with discernment in decision making? If I’m a part of god and it is a part of me, then I need to do what is necessary to stay connected with that thing and stay plugged in to that wisdom. Because let’s face it, sometimes the wisdom tells us things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. But if we are practicing oneness, if we are plugged in, then not only can we hear those messages, but we have the courage and the faith to act on them even if they don’t make sense on paper, because we are plugged in.
I practice the principle of oneness sometimes by asking myself: what would god do? You could also ask, what would Jesus do? The real live Jesus, the guy who lived by spiritual principles and told us we could do that too. Not the guy depicted in fundamentalist dominion based Christianity. Don’t get me started on that. That’s several podcasts worth of soapbox right there.
Back to the topic.
I practice this principle a lot by reminding myself that one of the qualities of spirit most mentioned in lists of qualities of spirit is love. So I ask myself, what would love do? Unconditional, non-judgmental love?
By the way, there are also lists of qualities of spirit, and, you guessed it, I have a list of those qualities and I refer to them a lot in my practice of oneness. I not only refer to them. I rely on them. I attempt to embody them. I ask myself: what would love do? Qualities of spirit are like guides for us, they suggest ways to be for ourselves.
Here’s my list of qualities of spirit: love, power, wisdom, joy, peace.
Other lists: more Love, more Peace, more Joy, more Freedom and more of all the other divine qualities (Abundance, Balance, Beauty, Love, Order, Power, Unity Wholeness, Wisdom)
From Charles Fillmore: life truth love intelligence, soul, spirit and principle.
From Ernest Holmes: love, wisdom, intelligence, power, substance, mind.
So what do these lists have to do with oneness? Well, they are qualities of spirit. And if it is true that because of the principle of oneness, spirit is a part of us, then we get to BE these qualities. We EMBODY them. We envision in our minds what they look like and feel like and then we act that out. The more we can BE these qualities of spirit, the more we can experience oneness. And the more we can experience oneness, the more we feel things like peace and joy and unconditional love and faith, that knowingness that all is well.
So, I’m faced with a decision. I’ve already made my pro and con list and done the budget. By the way, some people go so far as to eliminate those steps from their decision making process. I used to do that. And have to laugh at myself sometimes. Today, I like a bit of balance in my life. I go into situations now knowing the numbers, and there’s a certain sort of freedom in that. I’ve got the facts, I’ve done the research. Now is the time to take a deeper dive into the land of spiritual discernment.
So I sit with it a while. And while I’m sitting with it, I let it stew in my consciousness. Some folks call this slow cooking and the analogy works for me. While it is stewing, I periodically check in and ask myself what I am FEELING about this. Not what I am thinking. Feelings are things like excited, hopeful, enthusiastic. Feelings are sometimes centered in the body, as a physical thing. If you feel like you have a basketball in your stomach at the thought of deciding one way, that’s really good information to have. If the basketball goes away at the opposite thought, that is also very good information to have. Because those kinds of feelings that show up physically in your body? They don’t lie. Heed them. If you are feeling incredible tension in your neck, that’s also good information. And those kinds of physical feelings are telling us a big NO. On the other hand, if you can take a deep easy breath at the thought of a yes to any decision you are contemplating, then go for it. Or, if you feel like there has been a weight lifted off your shoulders at the thought of a decision, go for it.
And no, thoughts are not feelings. Thoughts are more like opinions. You know those. Everyone has them. Sort of like that other thing that everyone also has. Now, that other thing? It serves a very good purpose for us. So do thoughts. And if that other thing isn’t working properly, there are things we can do to fix it. Like take a laxative or the opposite. Likewise, if our thoughts are not working properly, in other words, if they are not serving us, we can fix those too. We can change them. Not with a pill though. We change them by actively acknowledging we have them, then consciously discerning what would like to think instead, and then, one thought at a time, we replace the thoughts that no longer serve us with thoughts to do. Without judgement. While feelings are always valid and give us good information, thoughts may or may not be true, and they may be the result of an old story, or a fear, or your ego popping up because it is feeling threatened because you are wanting to change the status quo and ego’s job is to protect us at all costs, even to the point of making us think fearful things so we don’t change. Cuz the ego does not like change. It is threatened by change. The way to deal with that ego is to thank it, reassure it. After all, we are now part of a One, a greater, bigger more powerful thing than any old ego. Thanks ego, for sharing, but we got this! Come along for the ride! That’s what I tell it.
Thoughts are things like: my list of cons is bigger than my list of pros! I need to not do this! But I have news for you: if you came up with the idea in the first place, the yes is in the idea, because where on earth do you think those ideas come from? They come from the god within each and every one of us, nudging and poking at us to take a look at this thing so that we can be elevated to our next greatest level of existence. I have a workshop called The Yes is in the Idea by the way. In this workshop we explore how to acknowledge our ideas and find the yes in them and implement those ideas.
Anyway, we don’t think about this stuff, we feel. And if you are feeling excited, enthusiastic and hopeful about what you are contemplating, discernment tells us that we need to take our idea seriously. No matter how scary it is. Because really, all those pro and con lists? That budget stuff? Relatively unimportant in the overall scheme of things. Those opinions? Yeah, everyone has them.
But until we fully embody oneness and begin to use that spiritual principle as a foundation, we will always come back full circle to our cultural imperative that we make decisions based on facts.
I encourage you to consider spiritual principles when considering making decisions. Consider spiritual principles with at least as much importance, if not more, than facts.
I can tell you that I’ve been making decisions based on spiritual discernment rather than on facts for many many years now, and my life has grown fuller and richer and better because of it.
I have a couple of stories to tell you to illustrate this. Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, I got a divorce. Which meant I needed to find a new place to live, because the house we lived in? Well, let’s just say I lived there because my husband wanted to live there, not me. I was totally ok with moving out. So I proceeded to look for a place to live. Not coincidentally, I also needed either a place in my new living quarters to house my very successful photography business, or I needed to find a space for the business as well. Up popped this property. It was two parcels, one zoned residential with the cutest little cabin on it! Right next door was the commercial building, zoned commercial. Also very cute. Those two parcels were selling together but home lenders wouldn’t give me money for the commercial property and vice versa. So I needed two separate loans. I could get a loan for the house. Not so much for the commercial. The numbers weren’t adding up. Those number crunchers only based their decisions on facts. Me? I was basing my decision on the feelings I got when I looked at the property. So much excitement! So much potential! Plus, I knew a secret those number crunchers didn’t: if you build it, they will come. I KNEW this as strongly as I knew I needed air to breathe and water to live. I got turned down for the loan on the commercial building again and again. My realtor wasn’t being helpful, so I fired her and got a different one. Because realtors can make or break a sale. I wasn’t taking no for an answer on this guys. By the way, I lost a couple of friends during this process. The realtor who wasn’t being supportive. And a friend who was a mortgage broker who looked me straight in the eye and told me he would not loan me the money because he didn’t think I would be able to make the payments. With friends like that, I do not need enemies. I need supportive friends, people in my life who believe in my visions. That’s a pretty hard boundary with me, and maybe also the subject for another podcast as well. Anyway, I KNEW this was my place! But the money to purchase it was going to have to come from a non-traditional source, because the traditional number crunchers weren’t going for it.
Now, this takes confidence, a willingness to trust, a willingness to step into unknown territory, and all sorts of spiritual stuff that I had at the time. And how I got to that place, well, let’s just say it took years of practice. Do the practice first. Then step out into a bigger place. Because you need the foundation of a strong spiritual practice to make decisions based on discernment rather than facts. This is what is called advanced spirituality folks.
Ok, so I got a traditional loan for the house, and a private lender who knew me and was familiar with my vision came through and lent me the money for the commercial. I had no idea that woman had that kind of money, but there she was, showing up for me in a big way. Supporting me. Now THAT’S the kind of friend I’m talking about
I bought this place and what followed was almost 20 years of the photography business becoming the most successful one in my area, and my home became a safe haven for folks needing a quiet space to just hang out. I would go off on a shoot and come home to discover someone hanging out in the garden. I would go off somewhere and come home to discover that a friend had spent time there and done some weeding. I had the most successful potlucks in that little cabin! I had all kinds of events at my studio! Including workshops because during that time I became a practitioner and converted part of that studio into a classroom.
Buying that property was solely based on spiritual principle, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I had heeded the numbers, I never would have bought that property.
Here’s another story for you: becoming a minister made absolutely no sense on paper. It made absolutely no sense in my belief system, nor in my thoughts. I fought that decision because it made no sense. My feelings about it however told me something different. At the time I was ignoring those feelings, but the people in my life had other ideas. Today? Today I know it was the loving hand of god guiding me in ways I couldn’t at the time envision, so that I could be successful today in my new career. Besides oneness, I used another spiritual principle here. I call it openness. Or willingness. Or a combination of both. I knew the photography business was winding down in my life. And all of a sudden there were these people in my life, supportive ones, who were telling me I just HAD to become a minister. Now, I’m going to come clean here and tell you a secret: if more than 3 people that I know and trust tell me I ought to be doing something different, I listen to them. Way more than 3 people were telling me I needed to become a minister. So I listened. Even though it made no sense and every part of me was resisting it. But because I was open and willing, the way to go back to grad school opened up, I was fully supported on that journey, and I became a minister.
Here’s yet another story for you, this one is much more recent. Just last week, I bought a travel trailer. Now, on paper, the facts don’t add up. I don’t leave my home much because, well, horses! They need daily care. I have never owned a travel trailer before and don’t know much about them. And quite frankly, the idea of owning said travel trailer is a bit anxiety producing because I’m still dealing with some PTSD resulting from about 10 years of constant and HUGE life changes. But I bought it anyway.
Because I felt enthusiastic about it. I felt excited about it. I felt like it was the next indicated right step in an intuitive way.
So I bought the trailer. It is 22 years old but in wonderful perfect condition. I towed it home and then proceeded to try and unhook the damn thing from my truck. Now, unhooking and hooking my horse trailer is a no brainer. It is pretty simple. The travel trailer? Not so simple. It’s got levelers and stabilizers and more chains to unhook than you can shake a stick at. And this metal tire stopper thingy that goes in between the two tires to stop them from moving. That’s the first step in unhooking the trailer by the way.
I got stuck. At the first step. The metal tire stopper thingy wouldn’t work right. I got support. A friend suggested I get a different sort of tire stopper thingy. I did, and they work fine.
Then I got stuck again. I looked at the directions the previous owner texted me. And had a real good laugh at that. His directions were void of punctuation, ripe with typos, and I suspect some wrong words. They made absolutely no sense what so ever.
I consulted YouTube, and found some videos that walked through the proper procedure to unhook a travel trailer. But I was still stuck.
I realized I needed someone to come over and supervise me while I did the deal. So I asked. I did the unthinkable, and asked for help. I’m getting much better at that. My tractor guy came over and helped. When you own a 2.5 acre ranchette, you either have your own tractor, or you have a tractor guy. I have a tractor guy. This guy has talent in spades. He is now my main handyman and car oil changer. He also moves hay bales for me. Anyway, tractor guy came over and he did what I asked. We went out there and looked at the trailer and he said, unhook that thingy, and I did. Then he said, ok, now unhook that thingy and I did. And he walked me through every step of the way. Once he began to do it himself and I said, “don’t touch that Jeremy, I need to do it myself!” He said, “oh yeah, sorry.” I was so excited! I got that tractor unhooked and leveled and life was good. Then he said to let him know when I was ready to hook up the trailer and take it on my maiden voyage, to Topaz Lake, which is about ten miles away from me. He said he would come over, guide me through hooking it up, follow me to Topaz and help me there as well.
WEEHAW! So now I’m busy putting stuff in my trailer and soon I will take my maiden voyage.
With this purchase I recognize that I am stepping into an unknown place. Which could be scary except that I have support, I have faith, and I have oneness. It’s everything I need.
So! The next time you are contemplating a decision, I encourage you to step into a deeper place and connect with whatever your concept of spirit is, and see what feelings crop up. And place just as much importance on those feelings in the decision making process as you do on the factual side of things. This is the way to move beyond current limitations in our lives and into something new and wonderful and bigger than we ever dreamed. Just practice discernment in your decision making process.
I thank you for listening and I hope you have been able to become willing to explore making decisions in a different way in your life. Because it will open up to new and wonderful things for you.
I am knowing, right here and right now, that Spirit, that thing I like to call the Force, is everywhere present, moving in and as and through me. And because of that, I know the words I speak now are powerful beyond measure, and so I speak now that there is more to making decisions than facts. There is an energy, a force, a power behind the facts that says yes, we can do this! This energy is the one that creates the excitement within us. I am speaking right now and right here that with this energy we have the power to implement our ideas, and the ways to do so simply open up effortlessly. I am speaking my word right now that all is well and all continues to be well.
And with great gratitude, I release my word, knowing it is done. And so it is!
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