My year at a Vipassana Center: Part 11 Trust & Discernment

Many lessons I learnt at the center I was able to carry with me out in the world, and others less so. It was hard to adjust after such a strong experience. In many ways I am still adjusting. There were a few individuals I met through the Vipassana Organization who strongly supported me through this transition, individuals who will always stay dear to my heart and of whom a single thought, sparks instant gratitude in my heart.

In the previous post I mentioned the issue of trust. How easy it is to forgive someone when you know that they are doing their best. In the world out there though, many people are driven by values far different that being the best human being they can be.

I do believe that at the core of every person they are doing their best, yet only a small number of people have woken up to the idea of facing their conscience, of living to values which benefit their peace of mind and thus the whole.

Many people do live in greed and don’t really care how their self-importance affects others.

Again, on a deep level, even these people are simply doing their best. Greed is only the result of severe desperation, deeply ingrained beliefs of lack and isolation. To have nothing but compassion towards greedy, self-centered, manipulating people is the best remedy for such people and this is a very noble approach… which can be effective in a therapeutic setting, but it is hardly a practically viable approach to life. Having to learn strong discernment about who and what to allow into your world is a lesson I think we all continue to learn.

I have had to learn these strong lessons of discernment. I got myself into various kinds of messy situations, situations that invited strong judgements. The worst part is that on a conscious level, I was almost entirely motivated by a strong urge to be dedicated to my spiritual growth and practice, motivated by doing good and being the best I knew how to, but if you’re going to approach life from a spiritual basis, you either need to know that those who are in it with you, are doing the same. Or else, you need to resume a greater level of self-responsibility in trusting it ALL.

It seemed that in some areas I trusted too much and didn’t have enough discernment, and then those very situations turned around to portray the idea that I didn’t trust enough and was too discerning. What a confusion!

In a sense it is much like the Kundalini Tree of Life which is depicted upside down.

Picture from “Kundalini Tantra” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

At any given time you may meet anyone one the way and you may not know whether they are pruning their leaves or strengthening their roots, but non-judgment and discernment are both qualities that equally gets to be cultivated. Sometimes it happens gracefully, but mostly not.

We sometimes have to exclude people, groups or organizations from our lives, usually because it doesn’t seem that our deeper values, ideas and happiness are supported by them, or our interaction with them. However, we don’t have to create a feeling of mistrust closing ourselves off (to them.) This is wisdom that comes from the lesson of trust. We learn to shift the focus of trust inward, and it is no-longer dependent on outside people or circumstance.

There is no bad feeling, no feeling of blame or victimhood in this discerning. There is only respect. Respect for the differences in us all, but mostly respect towards ourselves and the process of growth as we continually learn to define our boundaries by losing them and then strengthening them.

Perhaps there is a time when all aspects of our humanness have adjusted well enough to stay in the openness of oneness anywhere, anytime. I don’t know.



Photo credit: Alex Schettler




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