Discrimination with Deference
Again, it comes down to discernment. Yes, of spirits, but also just plain discernment, as in discrimination, distinction, and differentiation. For what is it we are attempting to discern? In the end, just truth, and truth is found everywhere, i.e., in every nook and cranny of existence.
To paraphrase Schuon, our task, always and everywhere, is to distinguish reality from appearances, no less in science than in religion. That we can even do this at all is a statement about something extraordinary in man. No other animal can discern the reality beneath appearances. That we can do so is already evidence of the spirit we seek.
Or in other words, while animals are essentially proportioned to their environment, man alone is proportioned to something far greater than the material world -- to the totality of existence and beyond, to the Absolute ground of things: "the sense of the Absolute" -- of God -- "coincides with totality of intelligence" (Schuon).
Which is why nothing short of God satisfies the intelligence, not excluding the intelligence of the godless. That is to say, the godless simply substitute a faux absolute to serve as the ground of their own intelligence, not knowing that this is a tautology; in other words, they implicitly project something of their own intelligence to serve as its own ground.
Spitzer has a good explanation of how this works in his The Soul's Upward Yearning. In fact, there is a whole chapter devoted to proving the existence of God by just this means. It's about 50 pages long. Not sure if I can condense it into a paragraph or two.
I suppose it ultimately comes down to what he calls the "Gödel enigma," which goes to how it is that human intelligence is always "beyond any set of predescribed rules and algorithms." It accounts for why any form of rationalism is simply swallowing its own tail. There is no way to get beyond it without at least implicit awareness of a truth from outside or beyond the system. That's the enigma. And thank God for it, because without it we would be as enclosed as any other animal. True, our prison pod would be slightly larger, but still a prison.
It turns out that this little enigma is the key to Everything. As Spitzer puts it, we "have the capacity to see any mathematical theory in light of the horizon of 'mathematical intelligibility,'" which simultaneously "reveals limits to our current knowledge and points to higher-level solutions within the horizon of intelligibility."
Thus, our intelligence can never be explained from below; rather, intelligence always transcends any "below" it posits out of its own substance. Human intelligence, free will, and creativity come from above and beyond; we are "the only transcendental species tacitly aware of a horizon of complete and unrestricted intelligibility," such that "God is notionally present within our consciousness, making possible free inquiry and creativity." This "implicit God" is what I mean by O. A spiritual practice is what renders O explicit.
But revelation also comes into play here, for revelation is O rendering itself explicit to and for us. Human intelligence can only approach O in an asymptotic manner, for again, our intelligence always surpasses any system it can come up with. Which is why manmade religion -- no less than rationalism -- necessarily chases its own tail. Scientology and Scientism are twins brought up in different families.
It is stupid to defer to any manmade idol. Rather, it only makes sense to defer to God.
Back to discernment of spirits. Here is the bottom line: "The most important rule is the following: if a particular spiritual idea, decision, or direction leads in the long term to an increase in faith, hope, and love, it very probably is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but if it leads to a decrease" in these, then "it probably comes from an evil spirit."
In the past I have likened it to driving an invisible car into the (equally invisible) Great Attractor. We must guide the vehicle by "feel." What is it we are feeling? Spitzer explains that we are guided by affective and spiritual consolation and desolation.
Affective consolation "refers to an experience or feeling of peace, joy, love, mystery, transcendence, sacredness, awe, glory, and ultimately home (being)."
Conversely, affective desolation is "precisely the opposite: it is a feeling or experience of being alienated from the Divine or not being at home in the Totality."
However, there is more to it than this, because sometimes God uses affective and spiritual desolation for his own ends; for example, think of the desolation you feel upon exposure to someone deepaking the chopra. If you were to experience affective consolation upon such exposure, that would be an example of the Evil One seducing you with a meretricious imitation of the real thing.
We're outta time here. To be continued...