Divine Guidance: 3 Misconceptions

In the 1980 film "Xanadu" there were lyrics of a song which said,

Everybody all around the world
Gotta tell you what I just heard
There's gonna be a party all over the world

I got a message on the radio
But where it came from I don't really know
And I heard these voices calling all over the world

Listen inside. These lyrics were referring to a one world political party addicted to Utopian intellectual theories ... true or false? "Of course not," you just heard inside. The lyrics were actually referring to the tremendously fulfilling and joyous life which is experienced when the intellect's guidance is abandoned in favor of divine guidance. The "party all over the world" happens to be individuals everywhere learning to listen inside to the voice of their holy spirit.

In every denomination of Christianity from Catholic to Mormon, from Protestant to New Age, the same topic of discussion fills sermons and talks: "How do I hear divine guidance?" Nothing is more valuable to the human condition than the habit of listening inside to one's holy spirit and following spiritual guidance.

Yet very few hear divine guidance crystal-clearly and consistently. The reason for this might have to do with 3 misunderstandings: 1) the misinterpretation that the ego always speaks first, 2) the mistaken idea that our holy spirit does not speak in words, and 3) the misconception that divine guidance is always followed by a peaceful feeling.

Does the ego always speak first?

There is never any reason to fear hearing the Voice for God, true or false?

Although you may not have been paying attention just now, you actually heard the answer in your heart and soul even before you engaged your intellect to analyze the question. Contrary to an opinion popular among users of A Course in Miracles, your holy spirit abiding in your heart and soul always gives you an answer before you engage your intellect to analyze and otherwise listen to your ego.

Surely you will hear some Course teachers saying with regard to hearing divine guidance, “The ego always speaks first.” But such teachers are confusingly interpreting an ontological concept in the Course as if it were an instructional concept. The context of this statement in the Course is not a discussion of how to listen to the Voice for God (instructional), but what is the nature of the holy spirit with respect to human self-identification (ontological). Listen:

“Remember that the Holy Spirit is the ANSWER, not the question. The ego always speaks first, because it is capricious and does NOT mean its maker well. This is because it believes, and correctly, that its maker may withdraw his support from it at any moment. If it meant you well, it would be glad, as the Holy Spirit will be glad when He has brought you home and you no longer need His guidance…. The ego, then, raised the first question that was ever asked, but it can never answer it. That question, which was 'What are you?' was the beginning of doubt.” (ACIM Text: Chap. 6)

In other words, before you identify as ego, when you are out of time (in a light session, for example) you are already in a state of oneness and have no need of an answer. Then a new context occurs with each instance of “coming back down” into time and form (the ego speaking first), and now you need an answer, so you do need to listen inside to your holy spirit. Now ... in this new context, your answer, the response of your holy spirit’s Voice for God, is spoken before your ego could ever engage to give its answer.

So a Course teacher would be correct if he said, “Once your ego has spoken (in an ontological sense), then your holy spirit’s answer can be heard first, before your ego attempts to come up with an answer" ... true or false?

Again, if you were listening carefully inside just now you heard the answer before the ego could even begin to process the question. That’s how it works.

Divine Guidance isn't really heard as words, true of false?

Hopefully you heard your spirit speaking rapidly deep inside, "false." Someone thoroughly acquainted with the Holy Bible would probably never ask the question. In the Gospels, various disciples are always thinking Jesus is speaking, and Jesus is always correcting them with statements like: "It's not who you think speaking. As I hear, I speak."

Yes, divine guidance can be felt as feelings, inklings, or promptings. But for one in the human condition wanting answers, hearing actual words of guidance and/or explanation is tremendously more efficient. Does anyone really think our holy spirit wouldn't provide answers in the most efficient manner? Does anyone imagine our holy spirit is incapable of giving words? Listen to Jesus Christ:

"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20)

Jesus teaches us that the feelings, promptings, and inklings which many people are satisfied to accept as guidance can actually be allowed to rise up out of the heart and soul to a sort of "inner hearing groove" just at the base of the Crown where a conversion takes place into words. This is not the same groove where our engaged intellect does it's thinking, but it is a groove close enough to utilize word forms which were originally formed intellectually. Jesus was a master at allowing this conversion to words:

"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 8:28)

There are plenty of spiritually open people around who can tell you the joys of living their lives by divine guidance heard in words. If you ignore the teachers who tell you our holy spirit doesn't speak in words, and instead surrender to hearing words of guidance, you will be directed in every way, provided for seemingly miraculously, and given answers to any questions to which answers would be truly helpful to you. Listen once more to Jesus and see if you feel inspired:

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:12-14)

Thanks for listening.

Is divine guidance always followed by a peaceful feeling?

How many sermons or talks by spiritual leaders have you heard in which something was said along the lines of: "I always know when I'm hearing divine guidance because it leaves me feeling at peace?"

There is no question that if you are in a worrying or fearful or otherwise chaotic state of mind and you turn to your holy spirit's "still, small voice" you will be guided to release worry and fear, and to feel what it feels like to return to trusting God. A mind in too much chaos does not serve any one's highest good, so of course your spiritual guidance will lift you closer to your natural peaceful state.

In fact, the very attempt to hear divine guidance requires a choice to return to at least enough peace of mind that your inner voice has a chance of being heard. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus says: "Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever. Try to hear God's Voice call to you lovingly.... Listen in deep silence. Sink deep into the peace that waits for you beyond the frantic, riotous thoughts and sights and sounds of this insane world." (ACIM Lesson 49)

So a desire for inner peace and a movement in mind toward inner peace is required for inner hearing. Nonetheless, a feeling of peace following on the heels of hearing divine guidance is not a test of whether the Voice for God has been heard correctly. This is because if the clearly heard guidance is not to the ego's liking, the ego can assert itself instantaneously. If your holy spirit is pushing you into "new territory," so to speak, into "stretches" to open you further, your ego might scream bloody murder.

When Abraham was happily going about his tribal wanderings and he heard, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of" (Genesis 22:2), do you think Abraham was peaceful upon hearing such guidance? Or do you think his emotions were going wild?

When Moses was told by God's Voice to order every woman among the children of Israel to borrow silver and gold, and expensive raiment, from their Egyptian neighbors, which they would then steal when they left Egypt, Moses must have been less than happy. The best he could answer was, "But they will not believe me, nor harken unto my voice; for they will say, the Lord has not appeared unto thee" (Exodus 4:1), do you think Moses was peaceful upon hearing this assignment? Or do you think he was freaking out?

Anyone who hears divine guidance very clearly and regularly will tell you that divine guidance, although heard when the mind has momentarily forgotten its chaos, does not always generate immediate peace. Because divine guidance is often perceived by the ego as threatening, and the ego's answer is anything but peaceful.

Yet the benefits of praying to hear divine guidance, listening for divine guidance, and following instructions of divine guidance do always lead to more peace in your life than you ever thought possible in the long run. Abraham didn't have to sacrifice his son after all, and upon his son a nation was built. Moses never had to doubt after all, and eventually led the children of Israel right to the edge of the Promised Land.

So do not listen to teachers who mistakenly tell you that divine guidance is not heard in words or that the only sure sign of divine guidance is a feeling of peace it leaves you with. Let this be your prayer: "Heavenly Father, heavenly angels, help me to be willing to hear your guiding words even when they are words I do not want to hear."

Finally, always remember the lyrics from yet another song from the inner hearing movie "Xanadu:"

Come take my hand
You should know me
I've always been in your mind
You know I will be kind
I'll be guiding you

Building your dream
Has to start now
There's no other road to take
You won't make a mistake
I'll be guiding you

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