1) Introduction


Discernment is multifaceted, Focused alertness and awareness in the moment as well as observing patterns over time is required. Unbiased/unfiltered perception is essential.  Intuitive thinking and intellectual thinking are in a synergistic relationship  for decision making. And, discernment also involves when each needs to predominate.  When consciousness is quieted, insights can emerge which are of great value.  Discernment in its multifaceted process is never a simple reaction, or even a quickly made decision.  There may be an urgency; and in these situations, a trained level of discernment still provide the best response.

The significance of discernment is that this multifaceted process in itself promotes alertness, awareness, unbiased/unfiltered perception, intuitive as well as intellectual thinking, and quieting consciousness so insights can emerge.  Each of these are valuable to wellbeing in themselves.  Also, what discernment provides a person is the best basis for decision-making, from minor to major decisions.  Taking each aspect of discernment, the first, and most important aspect is “Focused alertness and awareness.”  And, the greatest hindrance to this is the cacophony of “inner voices” distracting a person.


1) The cacophony of inner voices’ affect on alert awareness and the quality of perception


The Crowd


Within the temple of my consciousness,
Gathers the Crowd.
There’s one speaking softly in humility,
One ranting, Oh so proud.
There’s one quiet, broken-hearted, seeing my sins,
And one unrepentant, who sits and grins.
There’s one speaking compassion towards all,
And one taking no stock other than what self-protection calls.
There’s one railing at the loneliness,
While another sings in solitude.
There’s one who loves giving life all around,
And one, who sees where money is to be won.
There’s one looking on life as a pilgrimage,
And one, who ignorantly thinks this is all there is.
The crowd speak their say.
All should be heard, that is the way.
But those to follow must be chosen carefully.
Pheo Rose  1982


Learning to observe which inner voices often preoccupies your attention involves your relationship with yourself (Relado) because there are almost always inner voices going on. Training your consciousness to stay alert and aware “in the moment” instead of being preoccupied is being given more attention in “Mindfulness” training (research term).

Here are some important points about our Inner voices:
  1. Inner voices can  jump from one thought to the next, entirely unrelated to what we are supposed to be focusing on. Or they can grind us with obsessive fixation (research term) preventing us from  focusing effectively.
  2. Our inner voices can impede good judgments in situations because of an inner voice has already “jumped” to a conclusion before taking into account all factors that need to be considered. And reactions rather than thinking occur.
  3.  Incessant voices of our urges and desires not only can drown out the softer and wiser voices, but can also lead to  acts that in hindsight are regretted.
  4. Inner voices can distract us from being alert and paying attention while driving a vehicle — really anything when personal safety and the safety of others  is involved.
  5. Inner voices can be contradictory, making decisions more difficult — “should I… ” or “should I not…”
  6. Inner voices can be more berating of a mistake or a rule broken we have made than whoever confronted us with the mistake or action.  Inner voices can continue a self-demeaning attitude which can unnecessarily lead to lower self-esteem and reticence to take initiative in life.
  7. Inner voices can become fixated on someone or something, and block a person from being alert and aware of what is right in front of them.  These fixations can also lead to inappropriate to illegal behavior.
  8. If we are hurt by another there can be a ranting inner voice, increasingly more angry and hurt, as we let ourselves go over and over what was done.
  9. Inner voices also can block out what another person is saying to us. Sometimes our inner voices override paying attention to another person.  There is a semi-response of something like “yes, hmm.” until the other person realizes they are not being paid attention to; which often engenders the “Are you listening to me?!”
  10. Sometimes, only partial information gets through because we are distracted by our inner voices. This can lead to situations such as, “I told you I wanted 6 red potatoes and you have brought home a bag of yellow potatoes.”
  11. Inner voices can label a person even before the another person finishes speaking.  This can lead to inappropriate responses.
  12. The most unfortunate of all inner voices, are the voices of of any of the “isms,” such as racism, but also can include sheer hatred. People can, and do, dismiss such damaging  inner voices.   But there are  people who follow those inner voices that separate out a person or a group of people, and not only misjudge them, but also demean and degrade them; and if possible harass them in verbal and violent actions. The exclusive and demeaning “isms” and hatred can then become a very strong perceptual filter as a person refigures information to fit and even increase their beliefs.  In the extreme, such people become dangerous, as the distortion brought forth by the “isms” and  hatred can produce violent actions.
  13. There are even pathological conditions in which people become very violent and emphatically state that the voices within them told them to commit the acts of violence. They are completely sincere, but caught up in this pathology.   In such derangement they defend themselves with, “I had to do what “the voices” told me to do.”   Their situation is beyond discernment skills; they need and deserve much greater psychological help. In non-pathological conditions, what can increase dominance of such inner voices are others’ voices that endorse and validate the “ism” or the hatred.

Thus, the very first step in developing discernment is learning how to stay alert and attentive to what are inner voices are speaking, and quiet them.  Without this, inner voices can miss and distort a situation or conversation. In psychology, years of research have shown we have “perceptual filters” (research term) which can distort and allow us to, basically, only hear what we want to hear. Inner voices are a major contributor to these perceptual filters. 

Discernment involves “keen” and “accurate” perception assessing situations. Without a developed quieting of our inner voices, accurate perception  and decision-making can be flawed.  Another factor in unbiased/filtered perception is the the cacophony of others’ voices. So, before moving on to perception, considering the effect of others’ voices is important.


2) The cacophony of Others’ Voices


As with inner voices, there is a cacophony of other people’s voices.  Which voices are best to follow?  In this age of often presents misinformation as well as information, there can be a constant flow of conflicting voices. “Alternate facts and “Fake news” are just two terms that have complicated the information situation.  Social media has greatly increased the potential cacophony of these voices.  People’s choices of news outlets and social media will greatly influence the voices they hear.  As with discerning the most healthy inner voices, we are faced with discerning what other voices are saying, and which ones to pay attention to and which ones to dismiss and stay away from.  Here is a poetic expression of this:


In the Maze of People


In the maze of people
who berate others out of their own self-disillusionment,
of those who demean so that they can control,
of those who manipulate by being ever genuine in what they say,
So beguiling and attentive, yet wanting some part of you for themselves?
It is difficult to discern the soft voice
who speaks of your true light, gifts, and uniqueness.
That soft voice comes from the pure of heart — rare but they are there.
And those who shake off any who berate and demean;
and slip from the ensnares of the manipulators and controllers,
while holding to their faith in Love
do recognize that rare voice in the maze,
and are opened like a seed who can now push through its casing.
We are not given what we want, or ease in our lives,
But are given what we need to take on our own growth.
So, we go on through the maze
knowing that those cherished ones
 who will help us see ourselves will intersect with our path.
Pheo Rose
copyright 2007


3) The relationship between alert awareness and unbiased/unfiltered perception 


1) Learning to immediately be aware of the intrusion of inner voices is a developed skill. Learning to be alert and attentive to another’s voice is another developed skill. Learning to be attentive to the receptivity of another person whom you are talking to is also a developed skill that many individuals are not trained in.  If you are speaking to someone who is not really paying attention to you, this is important for the interaction.

Developing these skills require quieting inner voices.  Mindfulness and meditation practice are very beneficial for these skills.  Observing your quality of listening at first may seem difficult, but this can be fairly quickly learned.  Especially when people point out you are not listening to them….

Conversely, repeating essential information to someone often is not a bad idea.  If they say, “I heard you the first time,” you can smile and know that this is someone who listens.  I once had a professor who taught a highly detailed subject matter early in the morning.  He knew most students were groggy at that hour, and their listening skill was probably functioning at a low level.  He would repeat three times what was the essential information, estimating that after hearing the same sentence that many times students would recognize and finally note down the information. We like to think that when we are speaking to someone, they are attentively listening.  But, many times they can be hearing what we are saying, but distracted by inner voices, and are not really listening.  So when we are speaking we will benefit from be attentive to the receptiveness and level of listening by the other person.

Without such alertness to and awareness of the voices within and without you, as well as being attentive to the quality of the listening by the other person(s) not only is there missed information, but you may also find yourself going along with a voice that has your attention without being aware that it is potentially damaging. For instance, a person spots a wallet on the ground, and an inner voice says, “take it, they lost it.” Or, you see a work mate making a mistake, and your inner voice says, “Hey, its their mistake, why should I bother.”  You may find yourself walking by someone who is speaking out against a group, and your inner voice says, “What is the harm in listening?”  Someone comes to you with a plan to steal “easy money,” and your inner voice says, “I am really short of money, maybe I should just listen to this.” Or, if you are in a committed relationship, and someone else wants intimacy, inner voices can say, “What’s the harm, my committed partner won’t find out.”  The longer you allow yourself to be exposed to manipulative or deceiving, lying voices of others, or the obsessive fixations and self-degrading inner voices, the greater the impact on you.


2) When you are aware of the voices, you can then discern beneficial from damaging ones.  Is what you are thinking beneficial, or damaging to yourself or others. Is another’s voice prompting defensive, angry, and even verbally aggressive voices within you?  Are the inner or another’s voice urging you to demean, or verbally attack others?  Do you find yourself composing a lie in response to another? (An informative discussion or lies can be found at http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/lying/four_lies.htm)
When we lie to ourselves and others to justify unhealthy choices, this is often referred to as “rationalization.”  And finally, are your inner voices overriding another’s good advice because you do not want to hear it?  There is such importance to making sometimes almost instantaneous decisions to cut off negative inner voices, or step away from another’s voice that is derogatory, defaming, or seeking you to join into what you know you should not. This is much easier with inner voices, because you and essentially say: “Stop, this is not good for me.” And then lead your attention to something positive and life-giving.  With others, the best option is to gently excuse yourself from the situation as soon as possible.  When you are stuck having to listen, keep dealing with the inner voices to keep them peaceful and calm.  This is where the expression, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  Working with yourself is necessary, but this is a valuable skill to learn.  You can stay peaceful and remember these words are the other’s responsibility, and do not define you, or what you think.  Remember, by being alert to and aware of inner or outer voices, the quicker you can make the decision if you should continue to listen to yourself or someone else.  That decision, though perhaps seemingly “just in the moment,” can impact your life for benefit or detriment.


3) We listen to the words, but we derive their fullest meaning by the tone, body language, as well as what we already may know about the person, and  what we know about our own perceptual filters. A person can be speaking very kind words, but with a tone that you recognize as insincere or manipulative.  A person can be handing you an innocent item, but with seductive body language.  You may be introduced to someone who has very opposing views than yours, but you purposely remove your perceptual filters regarding the subject long enough to open to the possibility of the person willingness to dialogue or is just ranting.  We have to judge our own inner voices’ tone in much the same manner.  “Oh, its just a white lie,” rationalizing tone.  Or, “I’ll just have one drink” tone as alcoholism  is really the driving voice.  So another aspect of discernment is being aware of these nonverbal cues.


4) The goal is a quieted mind that is alert to and aware of inner and “outer” voices along with the nonverbal cues.  The means to this is increased self-observation and observing yourself when others are speaking. (again, researching “mindfulness” is very helpful).   Start by listening to which inner voices dominate.  This is very significant.  What is the proportion of negative voices to positive ones?   How long can you focus your mind on something before an inner voice barges in with distractions?  (Television advertising, it is said, often changes an image every three seconds because of research that has found a person’s attention span is only 3 seconds.)  The second step is to begin training with the counting to ten.  The benefit of learning the skill of quieting the inner voices is that you will also become aware of detrimental inner voices so much faster.


5)  What you hearing and seeing directly affects your perception.  There may be certain words said that immediately invoke a negativity that causes biased/filtered perception.  The appearance of another person and/or their body language can bias your perception.  Simply stated, what you are alert to, and aware of forms your perception.  Conversely, a biased and filtered perception will affect what you are aware of.  So self-observation is your first and foremost skill to be developed for both what you are alert to and aware of.  This self-observation does not require instruction from others, just your own motivation and will.  Taking on self-observation will provide benefits quicker than you might estimate.  Because “alertness to and awareness of” is so intermingled with the quality of perception, your self-observation improves both of these almost simultaneously.


 6) This skill development which you can take on yourself, also is very important for working with situational, and especially, life-changing decisions.  Much of our decision-making involves situational choices.  “Do I quit this job or group?”  “Do I buy that new vehicle, or fix what is wrong with the one I own?”  “I can no longer afford where I live, where do I move?”  Inner voices will emerge, and you are challenged with sorting out those that are either unhealthy, resistant to change, etc.  Accurate perception of the situation and choices is necessary. So not only will what you learn about yourself through self-observation benefit interactions with others, the skill will also benefit accurately perceiving life situations.


Some final thoughts on this subject:


Changes in behavioral  patterns also need to be perceived.  Are you or someone else evidencing a change from previous views, values, actions, and general behavior.  Perceiving these in yourself or another is very valuable.  This is especially the case if the behavioral pattern is detrimental.  Perceiving and supporting positive behavioral patterns is as valuable.  That support often will increase the person’s chances of the changes becoming permanent.  Asking a friend or family member about negative/detrimental behavioral patterns can allow the person to respond with what is causing the change.  Again, supportive tone and patience may be required, because the person’s first reaction may be very defensive or dismissive; but can eventually open a dialogue that saves the person from becoming too set in a detrimental behavioral pattern.  Perceiving changes in your own behavioral patterns gives you the greatest opportunity of dealing with them; whether you seek others to support positive changes, or help for negative patterns beginning.


In a totally separate topic, an interesting result of research regarding listening skills. Listening skills (awareness affecting and being affected by the level of perceptional filters)  seem to be different between men and women. Women, as natural communicators from the thousands of years of child rearing, as well as caring for others, for the most part, seem to have a natural ease for picking up on the words and tone, as well as the slightest change in body language and inflection. Their awareness level can be high, and their perception accurate (mostly unfiltered).  

Men in general must work more at communication skills.  The legacy of hunting in which there was one leader, then sub leaders, and down a pyramid of followers, left communication skills mostly to giving and taking orders.  Discussion was not a real option when a fierce animal or warring tribe was imminent.  And thus, many men have more work in developing listening skills (and women in their lives may point this out :).  It is not too difficult to understand why men can usually communicate and discern better with men, and women with women.  As a teenager when I began noticing how many vehicles had the men in the front seats and the women in the back seats I was bemusedly perplexed.   The “men are from Mars and women from Venus” phenomenon may exist; and listening skills can be somewhat different for men and women.   With this said, knowing yourself is far more important than gender.


4) Intuitive thinking and Insight added to logic and intellectual thinking

Using self-observation to develop your awareness-perception skills is essential for processing what you are perceiving.  People who only rely on their intellectual reasoning and logical thinking to process perceptions are lacking the immense benefit of intuitive thinking and insight.  Intuitive thinking is not taught, while teaching relies exclusively on developing logical thinking and intellectual reasoning.  The need to develop these is worthy as developing such thinking has offset people relying on superstition, unfounded beliefs, etc.  There is no criticism of the necessity to develop these throughout public school, collegiate levels, and graduate levels of education.  Teaching intuitive thinking and insight can add to these, providing a person with the best means to handle responsibilities and make decisions.  With both intuitive thinking and insight, the primary factor is that quieted mind with its unbiased/unfiltered perception.  Whereas with logical thinking and intellectual reasoning, trained inner voices are working out solutions.  When science, mathematics, research, etc. are the focus, logic and reasoning are the primary in processing perceptions.  The arts promote intuitive thinking, which is in itself a reason to never exclude them form educational curriculum.  Movement activities and sports are high in intuitive thinking because there is no time to think through the next move, the thinking has to be instantaneous, which is the first differentiating factor from logic and intellectual reasoning.  And insight is also instantaneous.  Time to explore both of these.


5) Intuitive Thinking and Insight


An artist looks at a blank piece of paper, or computer page, lump or clay, or even how to get around a situation requiring almost instantaneous action.  An image of the creation all of the sudden emerges, and a flow of intuitive thought, often referred to as creative thought, quickly guides the person in the bringing forth the artistic piece.  What is even more impressive in many ways is the split-second decisions in athletic endeavors.  Mind and body become “one,” as intuitive thinking is moving as fast as the actions.  The sensation is often exhilarating, so much so that the prolonged activity can produce endorphins (research term) that bring feelings of accomplishment and achievement and positive emotions.  Increasing skill and time in movement activities that require rapid intuitive thinking can provide a time of release from stress, and “rest” logical and intellectual reasoning.


(Competition in which there are winners and losers is unfortunate in that there is inherent stress to be a “winner.” I look forward to the time when “winners” and “losers,” is replaced by competitions in which the better athletes or team is determined, and the rest of the competition is those athletes or team then helping others achieve a higher level of skill.  What is the point of anyone being left the disappointment of losing?  The belief is that losers will then try harder.  But, would it not be even better if this were incorporated into the activity by them then learning increased skill within the competition itself? This brings up the whole topic of “spectator sports,” in which people vicariously become winners or losers.  The change here is that they watch “their athlete,” or “team” either help or is helped, and the event ends with everyone winning in some way.)  (Such a change in competitions would produce synergistic collaborations, (research term) in which even those with lesser skill working with those with greater skill can produce a situation in which all benefit from each other — perhaps producing a different type of endorphins.)


Many an artist or a person with highly skilled movements speak of “not thinking,” just doing.  What this means is that intuitive thinking, which is capable of instantaneous decisions is being used.  There are situations in life that intuitive thinking is also valuable.  You find yourself tripping over an object, and you intuitively roll out of the fall rather than put an arm out that may brake bones from the impact.  A vehicle all of the sudden veers towards yours, and rather than freezing because you have not developed intuitive thinking, you instantaneously steer your vehicle out of the way.  Even in human interactions intuitive thinking is valuable.  You perceive a look of distress in someone, and you intuitively change your greeting to a soft gentleness.  Or you are in an interaction, and you suddenly, intuitively realize that the interaction is going to a negative or detrimental place, and try to change the direction, or without responding in a way that only aggravates the situation, find the words to end the interaction.

Intuitive thinking can be a catalyst for logic thinking and intellectual reasoning.  If there is a problem that needs solving, intuitive thinking can often come up with an idea of a different approach, or a change that then leads to solving the problem, or furthering research, etc.  The term “thinking out of the box,” is the use of intuitive thinking in the situation.  Cultures who devote attention to intuitive thinking through education in the arts, especially movement arts (athletic skills are included in this), will benefit from individuals who are capable of applying the fulling thinking processes — logical thinking and intellectual reasoning with intuitive thinking and insight.  Insight is a unique form of intuitive thinking.

“Insight” comes in moments separate from their context.  When all the inner voices and outer voices are quiet, and when there is no thinking focus, a valuable “perspective,” “comprehension,” or even “wise realization,” simply emerges into consciousness.  There are depths to our minds that cannot emerge thoughts into consciousness without a quieted consciousness — too much preoccupation.  Meditation, and especially contemplation, open the way for insights.  Often these insights help with a situation that we have not been able to solve or resolve.  “Eureka,” is a term associated with the response to an insight.  Archimedes was said to have been relaxing in a bath when the insight to solving a impressive mathematical problem emerged, and he joyfully stated “Eureka.”  When at an impasse in relationships or situations that are not working, taking time to quiet and relax your mind, can open the way to wonderful insights that can provide you not only assistance in present life situations, but also insights into the deeper meanings in life.


5) Discernment is the synergistic use of intuitive and intellectual thinking along with logic and insight.


Developing intellectual thinking along with intuitive thinking can then lead to their synergistic use.  Each promotes the other.  Valuing logic as well as insights adds to the synergy.  A discerning person is capable of using all of these individually when called for, and can combine them when called for.  When picking up a paintbrush or a tennis racket, intuitive thinking is easily shifted into.  When learning or using mathematics, or science, the first choice is the shifting into intellectual thinking and logical reasoning.  When with a group of people trying to solve an social problem, intuitive thinking may lead and then be followed up with intellectual thinking of how to implement a new approach, or better an existing approach.


6) Discernment as part of the Land of Being


“Creating” greatly assists the development of intuitive thinking.  “REXST” provides not only the rest that can open insights, but also exercise which promotes intuitive thinking into a feeling of “oneness of mind and body.”  “Personal Growth” provides learning about one’s biases, and which form of thinking needs development (an overbalance of intuitive thinking is as detrimental as an overbalance of intellectual thinking.)  Reading “wisdom,” recognizing wisdom in others, and valuing wisdom actually can promote “insights.”  Time in one’s “Greatest Depths” requires the greatest quietening, practiced over years.  But, in this place the greatest and best quietening of consciousness allows the “deeper mind” to develop and provide wisdom, and knowledge that truly gives life meaning far beyond what any culture in itself can provide. “Living Love” requires not only development of discernment, but also the primary value in life to be “enhancing life, not taking from it.”  Discernment used for self-gain is possible, and the smartest criminals are apt.  But, the use is self-defeating in that they never reach their greatest depths, fullest personal growth, or the completeness of Living Love.  Develop discernment, and its interrelationship in your Land of Being.


6) The Use of Pheo Rose Musical Meditations to focus and quiet the consciousness


Quieting all the inner voices into a stillness of consciousness can be very difficult. Pheo Rose has produced music albums to help you to listen for and discern musical voices, and use these as meditational foci.   As each instrumental (musical) voice comes in, the listener incorporates that with the others. This trains the first aspect of discernment: picking up on voices as soon as they emerge. The three music albums begins with “Soul Bridge.”  The second album, “Soul Pulses” has longer musical pieces, though some of the pieces will be familiar. This album allows for better sustaining of your attentiveness. The third album “Soul Yoga” incorporates focusing on breathing and, if of interest to you, integrating focus on the7 chakras,  These music albums can be use as meditation throughout a life time. The more they are used for meditation, the easier a person can meditate.  Over the years, turning to this meditation becomes more and more familiar, thus increasing its effectiveness.

These musical albums can be found on the Music for You page.  The least expensive place to buy the music if you want to listen to it on something other than your computer is in the digital section of Amazon. Also remember that using good headphones maximizes and greatly enhances the listening and enjoyment of the music used.


7) This has been a long teaching, so in summary, remember the perspective that underlies all discernment:

  • We set aside our desire to use another, realizing we are all one. Thus enhancing other life enhancing our own.  Discernment is used in this perspective.
  • We develop our meditation capacity to quiet the cacophony of inner and outer voices. 
  • Developing our Greatest Depths of contemplative being discerns that which even meditation cannot completely grasp.
This teaching goes all the way back to the ancient wisdom.  Here is one of the Buddha’s teaching on the subject:
As the Fletcher whittles and makes straight in the arrows,
so the master directs straying thoughts.
Like a fish out of water, stranded on the shore,
thoughts thrash and quiver.
For how can they shake off desire?
They tremble, they are unsteady,
they wander at their will.
It is good to control them,
and to master them brings happiness.
But how subtle they are,
how elusive!
The task is to quiet them,
and by ruling them to find happiness.
With single-mindedness.
The master quells these thoughts.
And ends their wandering.
Seated in the cave of the heart
one finds freedom.
How can a troubled mind understand the way?
If someone is disturbed,
they will never be filled with the knowledge.
An untroubled mind,
no longer seeking to consider
what is right and what is wrong —
a mind beyond judgments —
watches and understands.
Know that the body is a fragile jar,
and make a castle of your mind.

Let understanding fight for you
to defend what you have won.
For soon the body is discarded.
Then what does it feel?
A useless log of wood, it lies on the ground.
Then what does it know?
Your worst enemy cannot harm you
as much as your own thoughts unguarded.
But once mastered, no one can help you as much,
not even your father or your mother.
The Buddha