Do You Feel the Spirit?

By: Jeff Spector
July 26, 2013

dove-descending-9How many times have you heard that phrase, “Do you or did you feel the Spirit that was present here?” or “the Spirit was very strong here” or words to that effect declaring that we should all be feeling the spirit.  And maybe you did, or maybe you didn’t.  Or what they felt wasn’t exactly what you felt.

One of the most important aspects of learning and growing in the Gospel is the presence of the Holy Ghost as a testator or confirming of truth. At our baptism and confirmation, we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion, to testify, to guide and to witness to us. We are even told how a manifestation or witness of the Holy Ghost should feel like in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9:

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.  But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.”

I always wondered about this verse since the only time I ever felt a burning in the bosom is when I had heartburn.  I’ve felt the Spirit in a number of others ways, but never like that. I then had to take that as figurative rather than literal.  Simply because I know I’ve received a witness from time to time, just not in that way.  I know some have held that up as the only way, but I never have.

My wife recently went to the kickoff of the Seminary year for the teachers in our area.  And she shared with me some passages from a new teaching manual entitled “Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.” It appears to be an excellent manual as I have skimmed it but some passages on this topic really struck me.

In the Chapter “Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning,” we read this:

“It is important to remember that no teacher, no matter how gifted or faithful, can fulfill the functions of the Spirit. Occasionally teachers may try to manufacture a spiritual experience. Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “You cannot force spiritual things. … You can no more force the Spirit to respond than you can force a bean to sprout, or an egg to hatch before its time. You can create a climate to foster growth, nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: you must await the growth” (“Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Teachers seeking to teach by the Spirit should not rely primarily on their intellect, teaching expertise, or personality but on the influence of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 4:34). They should also avoid manipulating emotions or consciously trying to elicit tears as evidence that the Spirit is present. President Howard W. Hunter cautioned: “I think if we are not careful as … teachers working in the classroom every day, we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself” (“Eternal Investments” [an evening with President Howard W. Hunter, Feb. 10, 1989], 4).”

I found this somewhat remarkable that we should not confuse the Spirit with strong emotions. And as President Hunter states that while the presence of the Spirit can bring on strong emotions, it should not be confused with the Spirit.

It goes on:

“Teachers should be cautious of using phrases such as “The Spirit told me to …” or “The Spirit said I should. …” Intentionally or unintentionally, these phrases can be perceived as self-promoting and can imply an exaggerated level of spirituality and could result in a form of spiritual coercion. It is generally sufficient for teachers to act on promptings from the Spirit without announcing that they are doing so.

Elder Henry B. Eyring offered this counsel: “Giving students experiences with the Spirit is far more important than talking about it. And just know that each person experiences the Spirit a little differently. … I think it is so individual that I would be a little careful in trying to say too much specifically. I think experience with it … might be better than if you keep saying, ‘Do you feel the Spirit?’ I think that can be counterproductive” (“Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Henry B. Eyring Discussion” [CES satellite training broadcast, Aug. 2003], 8).”

I think that sometimes we want so badly for everyone to feel what we are feeling, these statements are made in an effort to try to coax people into feeling something. Since we all feel the Spirit differently, it is important to ask what people are feeling than to declare what we think they should be feeling. If and only if they relate positive or warm feelings about what is being taught can should we equate that with the Spirit.

So, how do you react to this?  I know some have said they have seldom, if ever felt the Spirit and that makes me sad. Yet, I also wonder if they were ever taught to recognize how the Spirit is manifested to them, rather than being told to feel the Spirit, when they never knew what that meant to them, personally.

A witness of the truth is a glorious thing to be nurtured and expected. The Lord promised it to us if we seek it. We need to find out, like most things, what it means to us.

 

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26 Responses to Do You Feel the Spirit?

  1. SteveF on July 26, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I am one of those that feels a distinct burning in the bosom, but its funny I had a sort of preconceived notion of what that was supposed to mean/feel like and believed I never had felt that feeling long after I now realize that I had been feeling that very thing all along. So I want to put it in my own words so that maybe it can help someone else recognize it in themselves. I believe there are a lot more people experiencing this than recognize it, just as over time I realized that what I had been feeling was one an the same with the D&C descriptions. For me it comes with a great calm and peace (imagine something like meditating in the morning and feeling the clear sunbeams shining and resting on your skin from a nearby window). At this moment, I begin recognizing something that was probably already there within me to a degree, but only now it is heightened and I have a greater awareness to recognize it. It feels like there is a heat source swelling / calmly emanating from my upper chest that I can feel up my neck and depending on the strength might extend through my upper arms and even down into my stomach area. But it also comes simultaneously with several other effects, it feels as though my mind becomes more clear as if mental arteries are being unclogged, and my eyes feel lighter and more open/awake (almost as if I can see my thoughts better as I contemplate), and the air suddenly seems more crisp as my breathing becomes calmer and more steady, and I am more aware of the flow in and out. In short, my body enters a heightened peacefulness and at the same time a greater awareness of my body and surroundings. Or even more succinctly, I feel like I’m becoming more awake. All these things go together, and while feeling the calm and peace, it becomes easier to recognizing this peaceful heat emanating out of me from within, and my mind begins understanding and comprehending at a higher level and at greater speeds, yet it almost feels effortless. What I am thinking of feels right, I know it is right, and when an idea is not right, I can recognize it and work through it to find what is right. This state feels more natural than my regular sate, as if this is the way it’s always supposed to be.

    Because it is your same faculties / your same body, if this happens in only a small degree (or even in a large degree, infrequently) you may just feel that your having good moments from time to time, and that nothing extraordinary is occurring. But as it continued to happen to me, and I made an effort to recognize it, I realized that it is indeed the Spirit of the Lord heightening my natural faculties, and as I recognized and payed attention to it, I could begin feeling it stronger. So yes a peaceful heat emanating from within, but also much more. The answer itself is not the burning, the answers are in your thoughts, but the burning inside and all the other heightened feelings and peace/calm attend your thoughts letting you know you are thinking truth and right. In this state temporary stupors become easier to recognize and work through so that the peace, calm, burning, and higher thinking (of truths) can continue.

    Just thought I’d share in case it may help someone.

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  2. Howard on July 26, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    SteveF offers an eloquent description that rings true with me even though my personal experience differs from his. I think the difficulty in sorting emotion from Spirit can be eliminated through practice by meditating on what you suspect is the Spirit and staying with that signal for as long as you are able until you learn to separate his signal from the surrounding noise.

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  3. Jack Hughes on July 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Well said Jeff.

    Separating the promptings of the spirit from temporal feelings/emotions has been a constant struggle for me. As I understand, the spirit manifests to different people in different ways, so I am put off when certain strident members claim there is only “one way” (bosom burning, etc.). It is not a perfect science, nor is it logical; if it were, the same test (faith, prayer, study, etc.) would render the same result in all people.

    For me, spiritual experiences do not move me to tears, nor do they compel me to share them openly in front of the entire ward. It’s too personal. Yet the public testimony is held up as the “correct” model of faithful expression.

    Is there an overlap between spiritual promptings and human emotions? I would think so, since our minds, as well as our bodies, were created in God’s image. Does the spirit use these inborn mechanisms to convey divine communication to us, or does that happen on a different plane? What does that say about people with mental illnesses, people who claim “God commanded me to (insert morally repugnant act here)”?

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  4. Jack Hughes on July 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Since we are talking about the physical manifestation of the spiritual within our bodies, we may as well discuss psychophysiology, or how our body responds to internal stimuli. In the secular world, one of the most common applications of psychophysiology is in the field of polygraphy (lie detecting), which is common practice in certain sectors of security/government/law enforcement professions. A subject is given a series of moral decisions (truths/lies) and a system records certain physiological responses to each, such as heart rate, perspiration, respiration, blood pressure, etc. Since as members we believe our moral compass is influenced by the Holy Ghost, perhaps there is overlap with the natural functions of our bodies?

    At any rate, because of my work in government I have been subject to multiple polygraph examinations over the years, with mixed (sometimes dubious) results. Like the psychological community, I am convinced it is at best a pseudoscience, and a person with the right training and preparation can probably “fake it” well enough to pass. One examiner told me that people from certain cultures, particularly those that frequently lie or exaggerate in their speech, can fake out the test with minimal effort.

    What does this say about the spiritual component? Are “promptings of the spirit” truly physiological? Are they influenced by culture or socialization? I can understand the possibility of someone who grew up in LDS culture being likely to have similar emotional displays of faith (public crying, etc.) that his/her parents and leaders did. Any other thoughts?

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  5. nate on July 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Good discussion. It’s important to differentiate between the fruits of the Spirit and the Spirit itself. The Spirit may or may not bring someone to tears. But what defines a true experience with the Spirit is: “was any intelligence communicated?” as Joseph Smith taught.

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  6. Howard on July 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Jack I think you ask good questions. I think one has to move beyond feelings or “promptings” of the spirit to begin to see that promptings are just the very beginning, more important is the knowledge that can be conveyed to us from the divine. Following a D&C 85:6 type of encounter with the Spirit I began occasionally receiving premonitions and more frequently monitions. For example one day I left a new to me dog with my three cats and left for work. In the mid-afternoon I received a very strong message that something had been killed in my living room. I was concerned the dog may have attacked one of the cats so I drove 20 minutes home and entered my living room to find bird feathers all over the room! My cats apparently caught a bird on the balcony and destroyed it in the living room. Something this specific is not easily explained except by revelation. I’ve had many direct hits like this without a miss including driving 2 hours to find my sister unconscious in her apartment.

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  7. SilverRain on July 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I think it is vital to realize that not only does the Spirit talk to different people in different ways, but it talks to people in different ways at different time. I have felt the influence of the Spirit through knowledge distilling in my mind, a mental voice that is not mine, an impression drawing me towards something or other, a brief thought, the fire of conviction burning in my heart, a feeling of being hugged, words coming from my mouth without having to think of them first, a lightening of my spirit, a feeling of solidity or rightness, and multitudinous other ways, tailored to specific needs and circumstances.

    If we limit the Spirit to only talking to us in one way, we are limiting our opportunity to know the will of God.

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  8. SilverRain on July 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    *times

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  9. Jeff Spector on July 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    SilverRain,

    Yes, that is am important point. I once heard elder Bednar describe it (though the was probably not original) as “thought to the mind and feelings to the heart.”
    I thought that was a great summation of the categories, but not necessarily the how.

    You’ve done a good job of the how.

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  10. SteveF on July 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Good thoughts everyone, it sounds like were all basically on the same page here. My experiences have generally been with contemplating truths and doctrines, or in my personal interactions with others understanding their thoughts and/or character; whereas I have yet to experience something like Howard where I have been taught/told about a specific event that will or is happening away from me. At any rate, I agree with the conclusion that the underlying factor anytime I feel or have experience with the Spirit, is communication of intelligence in some degree or other.

    “Does the spirit use these inborn mechanisms to convey divine communication to us, or does that happen on a different plane? ” If I understand the question right, I think that the communication is happening on a different plane, or in other words intelligence being communicated spirit to spirit, but as our body is currently connected to our spirits we have or can have attending natural reactions to this spiritual communication. Again for me, my body tends to react in a way where all my physical senses become more acute and sensitive with a heightened mental awareness, as if the spirit intelligence is likewise heightening my physical and mental intelligence–or my body is experiencing something in like pattern as what is occurring on the spiritual plane. I think emotions being part of the brain and body are likewise heightened allowing you to feel feelings on a deeper level or in a greater degree. But for me, aside from maybe a couple times when I was young, tear causing emotions haven’t generally been part of the emotions I personally feel when the Spirit speaks to me. For me emotionally I feel more of a bold empowerment primarily, as well as many of the feelings that come alongside peace, love, and joy. But the common thread to all experiences with the Spirit is the spiritual communication of intelligence.

    (I think it is plausible that some emotions, like those causing crying, can be socially conditioned as reactions to spiritual feelings in an accidental mental correlation. And I think we all agree that making this accidental correlation can be dangerous, as we risk confusing one for the other which can lead to attempts at mimicking or forcing ‘the Spirit’ while losing the real thing.)

    As for mental illnesses, being in the brain it makes me think that spiritual communication while it can occur, might not come through to the mind in the standard manner. Purely speculating here, but it seems in some cases it may even limit one’s ability to know that spiritually they are feeling the love of God, as it does not properly transfer to the physical. This could impede spiritual growth by cutting off the natural back and forth communication between body and spirit, and is probably something for which the atonement will have to heal and make up the difference whenever in God’s plan it is right to occur. Alternately, and again theoretically, I could imagine a scenario where there may even be some ‘mental illnesses’ that actually facilitate, rather than hinder, certain aspects of spiritual communication, and could be to a person’s advantage in some instances.

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  11. Chicken on July 26, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    This post and the discussion have given me a lot to think about. I’m one of those people who struggles to recognize and/or feel the influence of the spirit. It’s rather a source of embarrassment for me that I haven’t figured this out yet. I’ve certainly had experiences where I have felt strong emotions associated with gospel things, but I realize many of those were indeed manufactured by well-meaning teachers and leaders as the quotes in the OP suggest. Besides, I often get the same feelings when watching dog food commercials or fireworks displays, and I utterly refuse to watch Nicholas Sparks films because I know how easily manipulated my emotions can be!

    As I have prayed sincerely about important decisions in the past and failed to receive any clear answer except emotional anguish about my apparent lack of ability to perceive an answer, I have kind of stopped praying about things. I just make my own choices and ask God for things I feel like He might be inclined to give me anyway, like watching over my family, helping friends with their problems, and maybe keeping me from getting hit by a bus on my bike commute. This approach has been fine for the last five or six years until I’ve recently found myself in something of a faith crisis and realized that the only answers are spiritual ones. I’m so out of the habit of asking and actually expecting to receive an answer that I don’t even know how to begin seeking after the spirit. It seems kind of like a paradox–one prays to receive spiritual guidance and confirmation, but such a prayer requires faith. Outside of the influence of the spirit, how does one come by faith? I feel like I can ask all I want, but until I really believe God will answer me, I don’t think it will do any good.

    I’m a pretty even-keeled person and I hate going through emotional trauma. It might just be that I haven’t been ready to commit to the pain and distraction that such a sincere quest for light would entail. I admit that I’m afraid to consciously put myself in a position where I will be vulnerable and aching for months and, let’s face it, probably years. That’s a huge part of the reason I stopped praying for guidance in the first place–all I ever ended up doing was turning myself into a roiling mass of tears and depression. I guess I’m chicken.

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  12. SteveF on July 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    @#11. I am certainly no authority, but I’ll give you some ideas from my perspective. As a living human being you have a spirit within you, a spirit of light and truth. Light naturally cleaves to light. If I wanted to understand the force of a particular magnet, I would hold up another magnet next to it to test its reaction. If you want to understand how your spirit, or your light and truth, reacts to the Spirit–or in other words to light and truth–I would recommend holding truth up next to your spirit. The question is, how and where do you do that? The where is simple, your brain/mind is the connection to your spirit, and so the truth needs to be in your mind. But how do you put truth in your mind? To me the simplest way is to turn to the most pure words of spirit we have on earth, the book that is the most correct on earth, namely The Book of Mormon.

    Read the words of the Book of Mormon, contemplate them, ponder on them, and let them rest in your mind as much as you can. By doing so, you will be putting almost pure truth in your mind. At this point it is like you have put a magnet up to another magnet. It is here that you must pay particular attention to the feelings in your mind and in your heart. As you study these feelings you will begin to recognize in some degree how it is your spirit reacts to light and truth, or in other words how your spirit responds to spirit.

    As you are learning these things, continue to pray. But as you do so, refrain from merely communicating only what you want to communicate. Rather seek those same feelings in your mind and in your heart that you get when you read the Book of Mormon, and try to speak words that will bring about these same feelings. It will be a struggle, it will take effort, it will be kind of trial and error, but slowly you will begin to pray not just words from your mind, but you will begin to pray words of truth and light–in fact, you will be praying the words the Spirit is prompting you to pray. And the more you do this, the better you will become. And when you pray truth, or the words that the Spirit guides you to pray, this back and forth with the Spirit will guide you to the answers you seek.

    You can see that prayer then becomes not simply a session of question and answer, but rather a struggle to tap into those spiritual feelings so that you can begin to pray in pure or at least partial truth according to the will of God. And when you tap into this wavelength, although partially obscured, you will begin in a greater degree to see as God sees. And in my experience, this is the way a person can obtain spiritual knowledge through prayer–and since it starts with studying the scriptures, I should say through study and prayer.

    One caveat is of course that you must be living in accordance with the commandments as best as you can. Sin will block the pathways from mind to spirit. But as you pray for forgiveness, and strive to do your very best in living righteous principles, God will clear those dark spots and support you in your journey. As you put in this work, the work of keeping the commandments, the work of putting truth in your mind and studying the feelings in your mind and in your heart, and ultimately the work of praying words of truth seeking the right words to bring those same feelings to your mind and heart as you pray, this large effort will bring you confidence and you will have the strength and faith to ultimately find what you are seeking. As a child of God, I know that you are both capable of accomplishing this and that God will support and uplift you in your journey if you choose to do these things. I hope these words may be of some help to you.

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  13. Heber13 on July 26, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I think there were years of my life that I trusted in the emotional feelings, and they did seem to enlighten me, strengthen me, and comfort me. I trusted it so much so that I “knew” it was from God, and “knew” what was truth…just by those feelings.

    Then when some experiences revealed they weren’t always certain and reliable, it made me wonder if it was all in my head or not.

    I think I am a better person choosing to believe those feelings of the spirit are there, but having absolute confidence in them is not wise. I lean towards hoping for spiritual experiences to guide me, but need to validate such feelings with logic and reason and as much evidence as possible.

    When I’m in a church meeting and feel good…I accept it for what it is, there is no reason I shouldn’t. When there is something I know is good (like seeing service to others), and feel the spirit, there is no reason to doubt that is exactly what it is confirming what I know.

    I have also had good feelings watching a movie or playing a game…nothing spiritual about it. So those feelings are not exclusive to a spiritual witness…and therefore cause me to pause and be cautious about how to interpret feelings or the “spirit”.

    But when it is a prompting to do something…if there is risk involved in the decisions…I had better go on more than just “the spirit”.

    Having a spiritual witness tell me to walk across the plains with a handcart, or practice polygamy…yikes. I need more than a “feeling” to make decisions with such consequences.

    If I had to be completely honest…I’d say my belief is that the spiritual feelings come from inside me. There is no external source causing it. But that is OK. A confirmation of something inside of me that is good, is still good and worthy listening to.

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  14. Howard on July 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I was tutored by the Spirit to meditate on the process of revelation and follow it backward beginning with what I was already consciously aware of receiving and proceeding in the direction of God. It is my conclusion that revelation is Spirit-to-spirit communication of *concepts* (not words) received by our spirit and perceived by our subconscious mind precipitating upward to our conscious mind where we attempt to explain the concepts to ourselves using what I call “thought words” which are then edited before speaking or typing for others. Sometimes these concepts are very dense nuggets that must be unpacked like unzipping a compressed computer file. Meditation is very helpful in accomplishing this. The richness and depth of the information is often so profound and sometimes so foreign that it isn’t completely understood as it is being unpacked. Information that is unpacked later often sheds additional light and understanding about information that was unpacked earlier redefining what you first thought you understood about the earlier part. In addition, these concepts are often very hard for our ignorant frames of reference to comprehend so as time passes the information often takes on new and deeper meaning. This is one reason why I’m not particularly concerned about multiple first vision accounts.

    I believe this is revelation not inspiration but even so notice how much interpretation by our mind is involved! We literally pick the words used to describe what we receive and that embraces our personal biases, naivete and ignorance. As a result I’m inclined to take revelation as an approximation at best and perhaps it’s just an unfinished lesson which can be very misleading without the rest of it – see Adam God or Blood Atonement for example.

    Our emotions are often triggered by this download before our minds can translate the concepts into understandable thoughts. At times I have found myself in tears and deep sorrow before the narrative of the tragic story could be intellectually understood by my mind. So, I wouldn’t necessarily eliminate tears and quavering voice as a manifestation of the Spirit, they may be an indication of personal revelation being received but not yet translated into words.

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  15. Heber13 on July 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Howard, I like those thoughts on the “approximation” of revelation through the spirit, which leads me to my feelings of having less than 100% certainty of my spiritual feelings, but also not dismissing them entirely.

    Do you think the words found in scripture is an approximation of putting things into words for the benefits of generations to study? Or are scriptures different than spiritual feelings to you?

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  16. SteveF on July 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Howard. You’re right, I don’t want to eliminate any particular reactions or emotions. I think we’re also in agreement that just because an emotion was evoked by one or several spiritual experiences , doesn’t mean that when that same emotion is evoked elsewhere it is necessarily the Spirit again.

    Going along with this, I think Heber13′s examples of looking primarily to the outer manifestations (like emotion) show how doing so can lead to genuine confusion. While emotions can be evoked by the Spirit, emotions in and of themselves are not evidence of the Spirit. SilverRain did an excellent job at outlining many of the final manifestations of the Spirit, but as you outlined–previous to these final manifestations that are subject to some level of interpretation by our minds, we first receive packets of information/concepts (I think this is a good mental model / description of what happens) from spirit to spirit. And for me attending this is an underlying consistent feeling, something much deeper and more fundamental than emotion, that I can only describe as light (maybe enlightenment?) that attends the reception of intelligence or information (what you describe as packets). This is important to me to recognize so that I know, however the final manifestations ultimately surface (voice in the mind, words, thoughts, impressions, emotions, visions, etc.), that the information was of God through the Spirit (and I agree with you that my interpretation of the information is a best approximation often subject to my mortal imperfections). And as I described in a previous comment, I think studying scripture is one of the best ways to understand what spiritual light and truth feel like at a fundamental level (Joseph Smith’s, and other prophets’ like him, best approximations from revelation are probably a lot more accurate than my own), so that by recognizing light we might not be deceived by some of the more outer manifestations like emotion, etc.

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  17. Howard on July 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Heber13, yes I agree with your comment; less than 100% certainty of my spiritual feelings, but also not dismissing them entirely.

    The mistake I frequently see Mormons making is taking Moroni’s challenge, receiving what they perceive to be a spiritual conformation and concluding that the “church is true!!!” whatever that trite phrase is supposed to mean and they rarely go back for more. Nate once suggested that this kind of spiritual conformation means something more like “come follow me” and I agree. If you want to know more you must figure it out in your mind and ask. And I will add; ask in an intelligent way and parse out exactly what is true and what isn’t. Beginning communication with the Spirit is often either a conformation or nothing at all and that does NOT mean “yes” or “no”. I like to call this “hot or cold” communication similar to the game you may have played as a child. So if after trying your question several times without a conformation try inverting your question to encourage the opposite answer.

    Scripture is words of a prophet written down often long after the fact and perhaps enhanced by inspiration or perhaps not. So yes scripture is also an approximation at best, probably a much bigger approximation. Words from a living prophet should be considered through his lens, his bias, his frame of reference, his naivete, his ignorance and not blindly accepted as the word of God.

    What matters are the principles NOT the laws because with the possible exception of the ten commandments the laws are written by men hopefully somewhat based on principles that approximate what God is trying to say!

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  18. Howard on July 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    SteveF,
    …when that same emotion is evoked elsewhere it is necessarily the Spirit again. I believe LDS Anarchist called the spirits conformation a “signature” and i thank him for providing this name. It isn’t the emotion alone, it’s the emotion plus other things like the great calm and peace, a heat source swelling you described in #1. The signature will be different for different people so don’t expect yours to necessarily match Oliver Cowdery’s or SteveF’s or mine. The first thing you must do is confirm WHO you are communicating with and then you must define the emotions and pluses that make up his signature for you. So the emotions may vary or even be absence but the rest of the signature is there letting you know it’s the Spirit you’re communicating with, but if in doubt ask him! If you continue working with him especially using meditation for amplification he will build a vocabulary with you and your communication will grow until you reach a conversational relationship with him.

    With regard to your comments about light and enlightenment I am in a meditative trance with is a low ego, highly enlightened altered state of mind that takes place in the present requiring me to be present in the present (I’m talking literally midway between two nanoseconds!) when i receive them and the trance helps immensely, if I leave the trance the download usually stops.

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  19. SteveF on July 26, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Definitely agree with concept of building a vocabulary with the Spirit. Good thoughts.

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  20. Chicken on July 27, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    You’ve all managed to put things in a way I’ve never thought about them before. SteveF, the way you have described prayer in particular feels almost like an entirely new paradigm to me and I think it will take me a while to wrap my head around everything you said. I’ve never been much good at individual prayer–I tend to feel best when praying with family or a small group of friends–and I know personal prayer is a definite weakness of mine. I’ll try some of the things you suggested. I’ve been thinking about trying meditation for a little while now in the hopes that it can help me get past some of my praying road blocks. Now time to learn how!

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  21. Jeff Spector on July 27, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    What is prayer, if not meditation? I should think that not all prayers have to be in the formula of thank – ask – close. They can be open-ended thoughts that are meditative in nature without the baggage of someone else’s religion.

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  22. Howard on July 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I agree Jeff, prayer can be meditation and meditation can be prayer so there is some overlap and some non-overlap.

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  23. Geoff - A on July 29, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    When I was young I had a terrible temper, I learned to control my emotions to the point where an adult daughter in a talk said she had never seen her father angry. I had a person who heard this ask whether I had trouble receiving spiritual promptings. I do.

    Like chicken I am not aware of having received spiritual guidance or answers to prayer.

    In HP we were discussing this and many of them believed the ideas you get when you need to solve as problem are inspiration, I just thought they were my mind functioning.

    I read that prophets, when they are young, pray to know if the church is true, and get no response for decades. I haven’t either.

    To some extent I am envious of those of you who do- and if it is something you can learn it would be good to learn, but I am sceptical, not of your experiences, but whether everyone should expect to.

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  24. Jeff Spector on July 30, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Geoff – A,

    I think sometimes we expect too much. We take as literal some things that are, in fact, not. So, is it a still small voice,? is it a burning in the bosom? is it Thoughts to the mind and feelings to the heart?

    It may be all those things, but my experience it is a still, small voice and my own thoughts. I think we have all felt the spirit at one time or another in spite of our own lack of confidence in it. I also think that people attribute the wrong things to the Spirit. But that is really their own issue.

    As the Pope said recently, Who am I to judge?

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  25. Justin on July 30, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    As the Pope said recently, Who am I to judge?

    Lol. To answer his question: The vicar of Jesus Christ Himself, on the Earth today. The infallible representative of the very God who organized the entire universe.

    If Popes or Prophets can do no more to judge/discern than any of us can — then what are they for? Unless “the Spirit” is totally something super-natural and outside the obvious context of our own human thoughts, feelings, guesses, hunches, and warm-fuzzies — then we’re no different than a humanist who’s just trying to arrive at the best answer for themself, we just call the process by a different name.

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