Editor's Note: Lorian is a collection of different voices and perspectives, each one authentic to our collective experience yet also simultaneously unique and particular to the individual. A recent exchange between Julie and David Spangler over the latest "Ask Julia" question led them each to respond in slightly different, yet complementary ways. Taken together, these corresponding views offered a well-rounded response while also affirming the inherent individualism and "spiritual tenure" that comprises a core understanding of Incarnational Spirituality. This emerging dialogue inspired us to consider a different approach to our "Ask Julia" column. Going forward, we will open up questions to our wider group (and whenever possible present different responses.) This updated column will be called "Conversations with Lorian."
What does it mean to genuinely be in contact with the God within? How is it different from people claiming to have "Conversations with God" or claiming to channel "Jesus" or some other archetypal image of the Sacred? How do I respond to and discern what is a real inner contact?
I have heard an "inner voice" a few times in my life, and by that I mean an actual "out loud" voice. At least it was loud to me. The first time it happened it was an ordinary day in a familiar place. I was 14 years old and was with my mother and sister in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. They were in deep conversation about various spiritual topics they were exploring. As I sat listening, I wondered why I wasn't participating in their explorations. I was interested in the topic, and some of what they were learning was so familiar that I felt I already knew it. It was in the midst of my question to myself, Why am I not joining in this journey with them? that I heard the voice. It was as clear as the voices in the room, though it felt closer. It also seemed to come from above and behind me. This voice said, "It is not time yet." Simply that. But with that simple sentence came what I would now call a "download" (we didn't have the term in 1965) of the insight that my task at that time was to settle into my body and my personality. And I would know when the time was right to pursue spiritual interests. This knowledge landed in my core.
I didn't move from the counter where I was sitting. I didn't jump up and shout that I had heard a voice. It was so natural an experience that it didn't occur to me to tell anyone about it until decades later I knew the voice was right. It felt right. Whose was this voice? I don't know. It might have been what I call "Big Julie", a higher part of my incarnate self, or my soul. It might even have been an inner friend or guardian angel. I am sure there are many possibilities. But in all these years, I haven't really asked. What is important to me is that I knew without a doubt that the voice was real. I felt like it knew something I didn't, and it was right. I didn't need to ask if it was real. I knew it was for me, and I knew I could trust it. How did I know? I suppose the same way I know when I can trust a person. There is a comfort and a feeling of rightness to the relationship. And then, experience through my life teaches me if it is right. Perhaps I didn't shout about hearing a voice because I decided to hold its insights close to my heart and watch to see how it all worked out. Through my history, I have found I can trust my own inner way of listening, my own inner senses. Learning to trust my own individual mode of communion with Spirit is part of growing up.
But how can I tell if someone else is in touch with a Sacred source? I don't know how anyone can presume to judge the inner experience of another. I think there are as many possible answers to this question as there are philosophical and religious teachings in the world, not to mention the various psychological conditions we may experience. An inner contact could be a truly divine encounter, or it could be a fabrication of our egoic structure, a delusion born of imbalance and stress. It could be a misinterpretation of a contact with a subtle phenomenon of some nature, powerful in its own right but falling short of actually being sacred. Or the contact could be very deep and real, but it still has to come through the mind and personality of the one who is in contact with it, which will put its own particular and perhaps limited stamp upon it. How does one know?
Let's start with contact coming through someone else. Maybe people are channeling Jesus. Maybe they are delusional. I can only judge for myself by what they say. Would I accept what they say if it wasn't from Jesus but was from Uncle Ted? Does that change the way I hear it? Does the name attached to the message make me value it more? If so, I need to take a good hard look to see if I would believe these words if they came from someone else. If there is something useful to me, I can take it and use it in my life But it does not help me to turn my devotion to the person through whom the message came, making them a proxy for my own inner contact.
Also, does what they say empower me and offer me freedom and sovereignty? Does it enhance my connection with my own inner source, or does it direct me to look outside myself for my spiritual fulfillment Does it constrict me and make me feel small and insignificant, or does it inspire me to be a source of creativity in my world? Does it lead me to engage the world with love, generosity and blessing?
The tone of the message is important too. My first response to a "my child" tone is that this is either not a high contact or the contactee is not clear. Talking down to me does not give me a sense of empowerment and expansion; it may perhaps give me a sense of being cuddled and safe. I can relax and let my spiritual parent take care of me. While it may be comfortable, this kind of language is perpetuating thought forms of God-The-Father taking care of the little children who don't have to think, but just worship. This kind of tone does not speak to me personally and in fact can contribute to the kind of blind following that we see in our world. I feel more called to a message that engages my mind and creativity, that challenges me to grow up and take co-responsibility with Spirit for myself and my world. I respond to a 'voice' that recognizes that I am a partner in this connection with the Sacred. I am not a passive tool of God but instead am a creative source for spirit to engage with the world.
My friend, Dorothy Maclean, is known for her inner contact with what she calls The God Within and also for her connection with the Devas through that inner contact. Dorothy is a big fan of David Spangler's work, and though while David was at Findhorn in the '70's, he would talk occasionally about the God within, he eventually chose to call it the Sacred, or the Generative Mystery in order to prevent old thought forms from interfering with an individual's inner experience of Spirit. A few times in our long friendship, Dorothy asked David what he thought she was in touch with when she contacted God. David never answered her.
Because Dorothy would jokingly complain to me about it, I once asked David about her question. His answer? "How do I know what she is in touch with?" It is possible that it was her High Self or her Soul. It is possible it was some big inner ally or guardian angel. It is possible it was a thought form which an angelic presence was connecting through, or perhaps it was her connection with the Ground of all Being clothed in her thoughts. But only she can name the place within her from which it comes. And I know that Dorothy underwent extensive inner training and discipline in order to make that contact. She knew from her own experience that she could trust it. And I knew from the quality of what she wrote that her connection was one I could trust.
Some of us are tasked with bringing new teachings to the world. The way we do it is important, and is often related to the cultural environment in which we move. The choice to follow these teachings is an individual one and pertains to the inner calling of each of us. It does not matter what name is given to these teachings. What matters is what you take away from them and if they lead you to trust yourself, stand in your own sovereignty and learn to hear and listen to your own inner voice, be it loud or soft.
Stay tuned for David's response to the same question.