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"Discernment is knowing what something is,
as it truly exists at this moment." [1]
"Your discipline here needs to be in learning to discern the way—
discerning the lessons that have to be learned,
discerning the relationships that you come in contact with, and
discerning your own motivations as you proceed."[2]


"To practice real discernment, you must practice restraint—holding yourself back: 'Restraint is the most important thing.' Tao Te Ching."[3]

"Do not think that any foreign power would come here to try to help you without wanting something from you. Do not think any foreign power would extend itself to humanity and its difficult circumstances, expending this wealth and this energy, unless they had a great and secret motive."[4]

Discerning the essence of things

"Though your senses will perceive the form of things, your heart will experience the essence of things, and this is how things will become known. Once they are known, you will realize how you are to participate with them. Thus, all your faculties of mind will be utilized for one great purpose, for Knowledge will utilize all your faculties and the faculties of the world for the redemption of the world, which is the redemption of Knowledge within the world." [5]

The essence of discernment

"The essence of discernment is stillness. If you can be still with another, without trying to make them good or bad, or divine or evil, then you can begin to experience him or her very directly." [6]

"Discernment, then, becomes not a matter of judgment and criticism but a means for recognition. Instead of good or bad, it becomes yes or no. You know what to follow and what not to follow. You know who to be with and who not to be with—all without judgment and condemnation. How simple this is and how direct and natural. How life confirming this is for you who can receive it." [7]

"Discernment is not asking the right questions or having the right checklist. It is the ability to know. It is the ability to experience another, not critically but directly. It is the ability to restrain yourself until the moment of action is called for, however long that may be. If you are without illusions about yourself, then you will be without illusions about others. Discernment, then, is the product of a great development." [6]

Discernment in relationships

"To practice discernment in relationships and in life, the first step is to hold back from wanting something from it. This holds true for discerning people, places, events (good or bad) and things. Without this first step preference, persuasions from others and the fear of not having will cloud your vision and discernment. Many great mistakes in relationships begin in this way."[3]

"Another point of discernment: first you must gain a growing sense of real direction in your life before you can discern the appropriateness of any important relationship. 'Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.' Most people want relationship and partnership first. But that is putting the cart before the horse. After much confusion, struggle, disappointment and the loss of vital years of your life, you finally come back to your core task in life: building your connection to Knowledge and with it, a real sense of purpose and direction."[3]

"To be able to discern friend from foe in the universe,
you must know the difference between your strength and your weakness, for
your foe will speak to your weakness, and
your friend will speak to your strength."[8]

"The more you learn about yourself—about your thinking and your behavior—and the more objective you become about yourself, the more objective you can become about the other person and the clearer your discernment will be. This clarity of discernment is very important because people are not what they seem. In almost all cases, people misrepresent themselves unless they are well developed and quite mature. Knowledge is your guide here, so you do not need to tax your mind in deliberation. But you do need to look, to listen and to learn."[9]

"Discernment in relationships is very important, particularly for young people, because it is here that people give their lives away for pleasure, for charm, for wealth, for advantage. It is here that people commit themselves to relationships, to circumstances and to careers that will never hold the possibility of revealing to them what they are really here to do and what they really can do." [10]

Spiritual Practice

Developing discernment

"Do not be afraid of conflict. Use conflict to develop discernment. Discernment is an exercise in power and self-determination. It is an exercise in freedom, essential freedom as we have described it."[11]

"Life does nothing aimlessly. Everything fulfills a purpose. Therefore, your giving must be done with discernment, and your discernment is something you must learn step by step, day by day. This is Wisdom functioning in the world. With Knowledge you must learn this Wisdom; otherwise, you will not be able to give your true gifts effectively and will misinterpret their results. Knowledge will give you that which must be given truly and will direct you to give truly. If you do not interfere with this or place an extra burden upon your giving, your giving will be totally effective and will acknowledge both the giver and the receiver."[12]


  1. Greater Community Spirituality, Chapter 7: How is Wisdom achieved in life?
  2. Greater Community Spirituality, Chapter 10: How do you prepare?
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Marshall Summers, Campfire Chat, March 4, 2023
  4. The Great Waves of Change, Chapter 10: The Great Waves and the Hidden Reality of Contact
  5. Steps to Knowledge, Step 273: My Teachers hold the memory of my Ancient Home for me.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wisdom from the Greater Community, Book 2, Chapter 6: Discernment
  7. Greater Community Spirituality, Chapter 24: What is Steps to Knowledge?
  8. The Allies of Humanity Book Three, Fourth Briefing: Hidden Powers
  9. Relationships & Higher Purpose, Chapter 12: Establishing Relationships
  10. The Bridge to a New Life: New Message for Young People
  11. Steps to Knowledge Continuation Training, Step 81: I will not be afraid of conflict today.
  12. Steps to Knowledge, Step 261: I must learn to give with discernment.

Further study

  • Wisdom from the Greater Community, Book 2, Chapter 6: Discernment

See Also



Further study

The Free School of the New Message, March - April 2023 session (Registration required)