I was reminded this week of another of the gifts/fruits of contemplation. In developing a contemplative practice, we allow ourselves to be open to remembering our deep, intimate connection with the Divine. In cultivating this connection, we remember that it is through our Oneness with the Divine that truth is revealed. Contemplation then becomes a tool through which we are able to seek, discern and embrace the truth as it is revealed to us on a very intimate, personal level through the God of our understanding. We realize in this process that the ultimate, and only truly authentic source of truth is God. While there are many tools that we can use in this process : scripture, sacred writings, inspirational books, personal teachers and gurus, the fact remains that the ultimate truth lies within the heart of the Divine and that all other vehicles must be tested through this intimate connection that I have come to call our Divinely implanted “truth barometer.” As scripture has said:
I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord. All from least to greatest shall know me, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31: 33-34)
The ability to explore, discover, discern and embrace truth are all fruits of the contemplative life. Unfortunately, many of us have never been empowered with the tools through which truth can be explored or discerned. I was reminded of this unfortunate fact through the sharing of two frightened individuals who had contacted me this week. Both had been given information by people they perceived to be in a position of authority on matters of a religious nature. Both had been plunged into a state of deep sadness and fear as a result of this information. Having been educated in the laws of their respective belief systems, I knew that the information they had been given was completely incorrect. The result of being given this information was not only emotionally but spiritually damaging to both individuals. I did the best I could to assure them that the information they had received was incorrect, but more than that, I encouraged them to weigh the information they had received against what their own intimate relationship with the Divine might be telling them, for it was only here that the ultimate truth for them could be revealed.
This is where a digilent practice of contemplation may have been a tool of healing and discernment for both of these individuals. Through this process we learn how to be open to receiving truth and learn how to discern its source. Did this truth come to us through perceived authority, out of our own or someone else’s fear, or has it indeed come from God? While truth may be difficult to discern, there are a few indicators of its authenticity. As Paul the Evangelist said:
Whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 16-17
Freedom, then becomes a good indicator of Divine truth. Freedom from this perspective is that which leads us to peace, allows us to know love more deeply, exercise compassion and experience joy in our lives. At the same time, Divine freedom is expansive and life-giving.
That being said, we must humbly admit that our discernment is only as perfect as the level to which we have remembered and embraced our Oneness with God and one another. As such, it is always helpful to have a competent, objective party to help us in our journey toward discerning truth, especially in those matters of great importance. As a professional Spiritual Director, I am humbled and honored to sometimes be a source of support for people as they seek to discover and discern truth in their lives. And contemplation, is one of the tools I encourage people to practice as they seek to know truth more fully.