The bold in daring will be killed
The bold in not daring will survive
Of these two, one may benefit, the other may harm
The one hated by Heaven – who knows the reason?
Even the sages still find this difficult
The Tao of Heaven:
Does not contend and yet excels in winning
Does not speak and yet excels in responding
Is not summoned and yet comes on its own
Is unhurried and yet excels in planning
The heavenly net is vast
Loose, and yet does not let anything slip through
When I think back on the character of those individuals who shaped my life private and professional life in the most profound and powerful manner; the fundamental quality that was common to each of them was Discernment. This virtue is more than the ability to exercise good judgment. It is an intuitive wisdom about issues, events and people that are often overlooked by others. Individuals who possess Discernment are capable of looking beyond the obvious and dissecting a relationship, situation or event to reveal the reality of the thing. This gift enables one to make carefully considered distinctions in order to arrive at the Truth.
Often others attribute this life-skill as being sharp or shrewd but that would be an injustice. That interpretation of their nature would be to imply that they view life as a game with the goal of being able to manipulate and maneuver themselves and others in order to attain what they want. Nothing could be further from the truth. These souls possess great spirituality and strive to honor one of the most fundamental laws of the Universe; every action creates a ripple.
When you have arrived at the place where you understand that your actions or inactions are weighted with Energy that create a Karmic Receipt, you come face to face with how your dysfunctional habitual behaviors have built a very high barrier around you and your ability to navigate your life wisely. It is in that moment that you begin to sow the seeds of Discernment.
When you realize that your actions and more importantly, the intent fueling your actions, drive the Principle of Karma, you begin to accept the reality that you alone own your legacy. You alone are responsible for shaping your life in a manner that not only reflects an understanding of your citizenship in the world but your interdependence with all mankind. Life is not random.
The prerequisites for becoming competent in the skill of Discernment are Mindfulness and Patience. You must be aware of yourself and your surroundings and resist being complacent. You must give yourself the space to consider your actions. You must breathe. You must keep your heart open for there cannot be Discernment without Compassion.
Remember to show Compassion to yourself first. Like any other life-skill, Discernment takes time to develop. You will probably get things very wrong at first. Keep a close eye on the intentions you act on. Monitor the results of those subsequent actions. Keep asking yourself, are you creating the legacy and the Karmic Receipt you want?
“Intentions just don’t float in and out of the mind without leaving a trace.”
From:Giving Rise to Discernment October 29, 2002
By Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Buddhist Monk of the Dhammayut Order