The question of guidance seems to be swathed in false hopes, frustrations and apparent failures perhaps more than any other aspect of studying A Course in Miracles.
This article aims at bringing some clarification, and includes an aspect of receiving guidance that I’ve not heard mentioned in Course circles before. I hope it is helpful.
‘You may insist that the Holy Spirit does not answer you, but it might be wiser to consider the kind of questioner you are. You do not ask only for what you want. This is because you are afraid you might receive it, and you would. That is why you persist in asking the teacher who could not possibly give you what you want. Of him you can never learn what it is, and this gives you the illusion of safety. Yet you cannot be safe from truth, but only in truth’. (T9.1.7)
Here we have a core difficulty explained: we want to hold on to our existing (ego) thought system and be guided to a more comfortable experience of believing in it. The Holy Spirit is in the business of helping us choose an entirely different thought system. This is more than most of us bargained for..
Let’s look at some Course teaching and our likely resistances:
‘He (Holy Spirit) teaches that the past does not exist’. (T13.8.1) Are we ready to not blame ‘our past’ for any upsets or lack? And not feel sentimental about anything in the past either? Are we ready to assume total responsibility for our experience?
‘To follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance is to let yourself be absolved of guilt. It is the essence of the Atonement. It is the core of the curriculum’. (M29.3) The Atonement is curtains for the ego, for the person we seem to be. Are we ready to ask sincerely for this?
‘Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will sacrifice nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believed this, there would be no conflict’. (T7.10.3) Again, curtains for personal identity, autonomy, control.. which looks like hell to us from the human perspective.
‘His Voice will teach you how to distinguish between joy and pain’. (T7.10.7) Are we ready to see that the cost of ‘worldly joys’ is pain? And that they never were real joys anyway?
Are we ready to ask for the guidance that dismisses all we thought we were and knew. Hum.. And yet if we don’t..
‘When you ask the Holy Spirit for what would hurt you (anything that will make the dream seem more real to us) He cannot answer because nothing can hurt you, and so you are asking for nothing. Any wish that stems from the ego is a wish for nothing, and to ask for it is not a request. It is merely a denial in the form of a request. The Holy Spirit is not concerned with form, being aware only of meaning’. (T9.1.10)
An Enquiry: Are we still hankering for something in our dream? Our own house – to travel round the world – to find our soul mate.. or, probably less consciously – more sickness, more victimhood, more ways to be punished for our perceived guilt..
So, ‘asking for guidance’ sits in a web of specialness thinking and our deep attachment to this experience of physicality. Much debris of darkness needs to be released from our minds if we are to have a clear and open channel to the Holy Spirit’s Voice and a readiness to follow.
‘The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked for anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him will ever be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you’. (T9.2.3)
Reassurance. We are always heard and there is always a response. This is obvious when we consider that the Holy Spirit is not an outside benefactor but the memory of God within our own minds. When we truly decide to ask for help with healing our minds, we access our Link with God. We will accept this certain help to the extent that we’re prepared to loosen our investment in the ego. Like gradually undoing a knot, we turn to Spirit still with much debris in our minds and we hear a little, which clears some more debris and we can hear a little more.. How wonderful to keep going, knowing there are many answers just waiting for us to be ready for them!
‘The Holy Spirit can use all that you give to Him for your salvation. But He cannot use what you withhold, for He cannot take it from you without your willingness.. You need not give it to Him wholly willingly.. but this He needs; that you prefer He take it than that you keep it for yourself alone’. (T25.8.1)
More reassurance. We don’t have to be perfect about seeking guidance or following it, but we do have to be willing to let go of the illusions that we’ve made.
‘You do not realise how much you listen to your gods, and how vigilant you are on their behalf. Yet they exist only because you honour them. Place honour where it is due, and peace will be yours’. (T10.3.10)
A cautionary note. There is a need to notice how enthralled we are with the ‘toys and trinkets’ of this world; just how much we honour our idols.
‘His Voice awaits your silence, for His Word can not be heard until your mind is quiet for a while, and meaningless desires have been stilled’. (Lesson 125.6)
A straightforward pointer. Practicing silence will uncover our holy desire to hear, and so we’ll hear!
The Answer to Prayer (T9.2) shines powerful light on hearing the Voice for God, presenting an aspect of receiving guidance that I haven’t heard mentioned in Course circles, and that I’ve only recently become aware of. I can see now that it’s absolutely central to success.
‘If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God.. your faith in him is your faith in yourself.. Can you ask of the Holy Spirit truly, and doubt your brother?.. Listening to truth is the only way you can hear it now, and finally know it.. the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth?.. The Holy Spirit extends from your mind to his, and answers you. You cannot hear the Voice for God in yourself alone, because you are not alone.. You will not trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or believe that it is for you unless you hear it in others.. Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God’s Sons?’ (T9.2.4-6)
The Holy Spirit is in all minds, broadcasting a continuous message of truth and love. If we only tune into other people’s separation experiences, we are deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit – big time! It’s an ego trap to see guidance as something for us as individuals – the Holy Spirit is going to speak to me about me – and not wish to be aware of Him in everyone. It’s not that we need to, or indeed could, listen in to specific guidance for others, but we can appreciate that every mind is in its perfect classroom of forgiveness and is learning to listen to its Inner Guide – the same Inner Guide that we have. In contemplating how to forgive in our classrooms/situations it will be so helpful to turn to the Holy Spirit in all fragments of the mind concerned. If we give others acknowledgement that He is in their minds, we are deepening the knowing of the Holy Spirit in our minds, and it will be all the easier to listen to His Voice and follow It.
‘Healing is a sign that you want to make whole. And this willingness opens your ears to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, Whose message is wholeness’. (T11.2.4)
‘The Voice for God tells us of things we cannot understand alone, nor learn apart’. (Lesson 275. 1)
So, this guidance on guidance concludes by bringing us to the core message of A Course in Miracles: we have never been separate. If this is our starting premise when asking for help, we may be more able to realise that ‘it is your voice to which you listen as He speaks to you’, and surely we would follow..