The word “discernment” will be used here to signify the power to discriminate between a perceived reality and the possibility that the perception may be illusory. Discernment is not the same as faith, for faith may be a personal creation, either mental or emotional, but discernment is a quite certain recognition of the reality or truth of something, and is acquired by the higher consciousness.
Every certainty is the result of an experience. If the experience has come through the senses, the emotions, or the intellect, then the certainty is no more than relative; it is beyond doubt only when it is the fruit of a genuine spiritual experience of identification.
Identification is the union of a art of one’s being with the object contemplated, whether or not this object is in the field of sensory perception.
True identification is communion between the perceiver and the perceived, and this communion does not permit the intrusion of any notions foreign to the reality of the object contemplated. It demands accordingly the exclusion of all notions or impressions arising from the personality of the perceiver, for this might corrupt the integrity of his perception; that is, it requires absolute neutrality, whether this is obtained accidentally for a moment or by perfect control.
Perfect control of our mental faculties, by holding them steady and reducing them to the role of an absolutely neutral observer, makes identification possible, and conscious identification obtained in these conditions amounts to certain knowledge.
Identification can also happen accidentally through momentary emptiness of mind; but in that case it is without the conscious control which coordinates spiritual perceptions, and is thus an unconscious identification. Most intuitive perceptions are of this order and cannot have the value of certainties for lack of the necessary “discernment”; they remain probabilities which must be evaluated more and more closely by a process of verification strictly purified from personal prejudice.
The possibility of distinguishing without error between the certainty and the mere probability of an experience of identification may be called “the discernment of discernment.”
The value of a flash of discernment cannot be measured in time; it is a moment of wisdom, of true knowledge. A sage may enjoy such moments more or less frequently, but they are never continuous so long as he is obliged to undergo the accidents and relativism of life on earth.
The discernment of a true discernment requires the man who would practice it an experimental knowledge of his own different states of consciousness and of the value of the evidence they offer him. Only in such a case can our discernment have the value of reality, and thus allow us to find our answers in ourselves.