Knowing Right From Wrong
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, Contributor
On one level people want simple answers and to be told what to do. On another, they want freedom to choose and make their own decisions. People are multi-level and have the capacity to make their own choices as well as accept direction from others. Discord sets in when the guidance from others or authority does not fit what the individual wants or feels is right for them. In this case, the individual is in conflict and looks for something else.
At a young age, most people are taught a philosophy of ‘right and wrong.’ Aspects of this protective mechanism are projected into daily life and are part of social and religious training. For example if you do not get-up and arrive timely at school this is bad. As an adult, being late will eventually result in loss of job. Or as a youth, if you take street drugs, this will lead to personal problems and addiction.
It is difficult to disagree with these two rules about daily life. Get to places on time and do not take potentially damaging street drugs. However to complicate matters other factors may be at play. Perhaps the individual is getting to work late because of an inner, hidden unease with this type of work. In time, after warnings by the supervisor, the worker realizes this and moves on. Or the youth experimenting with recreational drugs uses this learning in a future career, brain chemistry. Or in a more damaging scenario, after years of addiction the person sobers up and becomes a drug counselor; and because of personal experience helps dozens of others.
More Complex Training
From a higher perspective, looking at events: travelers are taught to take a longitudinal and holistic view of the effect of specific actions. In life, often it is not a simple matter of an action being ‘right or wrong.’ Actions are complex and involve others, having both a collective and individual effect. Before making many decisions it is wise to consider their long term and multi-level effect.
As an example, how about the common situation where your beloved asks- do you think I have put on a few pounds? Does this dress/suit make me look heavy? Sometimes telling the truth can be unnecessarily hurtful; particularly if the individual has been struggling with their weight. In this situation, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what is right or wrong; in most things, we are free to pick and choose.
Spiritual Criteria for Actions
Further, when viewing the effect of personal action, it is impossible to know all the variables involved; particularly over a long period of time and actions that affect countless others. However, for the spiritual traveler, it is possible to know some of this and begins by asking the question: will this action bring me closer or distance me from my higher destiny?
The answer to this question may be thought out as well as perceived. First we rationally consider and list the effects using what we term our common sense. Next we use our intuition, requesting if the action will bring us closer or distance us from our higher self. Perception is intuitive knowledge that emerges from our collective consciousness. By turning inward, the traveler unlocks this holistic awareness and uses this answer along with their rational thought to arrive at an action.
At an early age, it is important to learn about societal differences concerning right and wrong. It is important to learn that some things are good for us and some things are not. Yet spiritual teaching must go deeper, illustrating and considering the aspect of longitudinal effect and destiny. While one piece of chocolate may be tasty and even nutritious, twenty is not; particularly if we are diabetic or prone to dental problems.
Most spiritual training programs teach the traveler to pray or turn inward in some fashion before taking an important action. Within each person, there is an inner voice or capacity to know (called perception) if an action will bring us closer to our higher self and the higher destiny of the universe. Most people have forgotten to develop and listen to their inner voice and have relied upon others to teach them about right and wrong.
This early social, moral and religious teaching, about what is useful in life, was intended as a beginning; and the traveler, as they matured was to be instructed on how to make their own more complex, intuitive decisions. For many, this has been omitted from their training and they continue to rely upon limited and simplistic learning constructs.
Many of these constructs have been tied to hidden and sometimes not so hidden ‘fear & reward’ systems. In a sense, for these travelers, their thoughts on certain subjects have become fixed, and engineered by others.
Embrace your own inner beliefs
And then travel beyond them.
Embrace higher knowledge
And as the Source Wills
You will become a sun unto yourself:
Knowing right from wrong. Dissipating your own lower need and desire.
What some call religious training and tradition:
Often is based upon historical and no longer accurate,
Incomplete information; also in some presentations
There is tendency to misapply traditional exercises to their culture;
Further many sacred books include
Selective reportage by believers and historians;
With altered teachings to control desired behaviors
Which were insisted upon by the ruling entity and clergy.
Remember many cherished religious traditions and behaviors
No longer serve any real or spiritual function.
However they do increase people’s feelings of comfort/tradition
And need to be viewed within their emotional framework.
About the Author
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler, poet, is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.
Stewart is also the author of Sufism for the Western Seeker, published in 2011, was nominated by ‘Foreword Magazine’ for Adult Non Fiction Religious Book of Year Book of the Year Award, placing 4th (honorable mention) and is a must read, as well as The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
Register for an upcoming retreat weekend with Dr. Steward Bitkoff atop Bangor Mountain, in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Kirkridge Retreat Center on Sufism & Enlightenment, May 30- June I, 2014. For information is available here: http://kirkridge.org/programs/upcoming-programs/ – click on Detailed Information for full program highlights.
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