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Mike

Questions on the nature of spiritual experiences

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The burning in my bosom occured on my mission. It occured when listening to Paul H Dunn talk tapes. My bosom burned when my bishop called a first counselor who had propositioned my mother. This same Counselor was molesting his own teenage daughter at the time.

Honestly, I can't say that my feelings of the heart always reflect the light of christ or just an emotional reflex.

I liked the Firefight in Pauls tape where enemy sniper bullets were tearing his boots and helmet off while leaving him unscathed. Go Paul, its your birthday.....maxrep takes his seat after realizing his irreverent behavior.

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I'm sorry if I repeat something that anyone else has said, but I read the first post of this thread and do have something to offer, although not the time to read through the entire thread.

1 Can anyone help me understand what the experience of the Holy Spirit entails, especially in the context of recieving a witness that something (eg the BOM) is true/correct? (Yes I understand that it may be difficult or even immpossible to fully explian in words.)

You're right, this is something extremely difficult to relay in words, and one can only hope that while you read the words trying to explain of the Holy Spirit, that you will also feel the Holy Spirit and experience for yourself what it is like. The "feeling" (and I use that term lightly, because it is so much more than just a feeling, but alas, there are no other words that truly mean what I do mean) that you get when you are recieving witness from the Holy Spirit is one like no other you've felt before. Often times your body physically shows evidence of this (although it is not needed). For example, when I recieved my witness on the the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon my body started shaking with a great fierceness, my heart pumped quickly within my chest, my palms became sweaty, I was short of breath, but most of all there was this great... happiness within me. Not just a happiness, but an actual.. knowledge. A knowledge that this is true, that this is from God, that this is truly Holy! A sort of knowledge that you would lay your life down for. A knowledge that filled you so completely with joy that you could never explain the actual feeling of it to anyone. A knowledge that could never have came from a mind or heart so simple as the human mind or heart. I don't know... it's just... you know. You just KNOW when you feel it. You're in ectasy. You understand.... You know.

2 How can a person, particularly someone who does not already believe in God, determine whether or not an experience is in from God and not from another source such as their own mind?

I like this question because I come exactly from what you're talking about. When I recieved witness from the Holy Spirit, I did not believe in God. I was reading the Book of Mormon merely because my friend asked me to. I had no knowledge about "recieving a testimony" or the "burning in the bossom" so often spoken about. In fact, I had no previous knowledge about "The Mormons" other than they didn't tell lies. I was a strong atheist struggling heavily under depression and hating myself at the time, reading this piece of crap, as I thought of it, and doing it for no good reason other than a friend asked me to.

One night, fighting against myself, I finally decided to get down on my knees and pray for the first time in my life. I had decided that it was extremely painful to not believe in God and that if he were really real than I needed to know. So I broke down and asked Him if what I read was true. If the Book of Mormon was true and if that church of my friend was really His Church.

I recieved the "feeling" that I previously described. Perhaps it was coincidence that I had but barely finished my prayer when my body started acting weird and perhaps those "feelings" I felt were something from my over-drawn imagination. Perhaps I just wanted to believe in God so badly that I allowed myself to "make up", so to say, those "feelings". But I don't think so. Yes, it's true that there are often times that I begin falling away from God and Rightousness and I begin thinking that it was all just part of my imagination. That my body just decided that it was too dang hard to face the truth and that I had endured too much pain because of it. So it told me the first lie it could see. It told me to believe in something I wanted to believe in.

But when I go through times like that, when I'm not sure whether or not my old beliefs or my new ones are true, I stop and give myself back up to God. And once more He comforts me with the Holy Spirit. And when you recieve the Holy Spirit, you have that knowledge- you know without a doubt of the truthfullness. All doubts and worries seem to disappear and you look upon them with a new light. It is such an amazing thing! Oh how I wish to explain it fully to you and all who don't understand it! You know! I know! Those are the words that seem to sum it up the best. The Holy Spirit is "I KNOW". That is what I wish to shout out to the world "I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW". Because I do. I know that God is real! I know that the Book of Mormon is true! I KNOW!

I pray that my post here, of inadequately spoken words will have affected you in some way, and perhaps have answered your question.

((And on a side note I'd like to come back and add now that I've read a few posts, thank you to Val and wenglund, your stories have indeed touched me. Thanks.))

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Serenity--

May I reproduce the above, in discussions about such reasons?

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Hi Mike!

I learned that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between your own thoughts and the Spirit. I've had some experiences that are too personal to share, but I will share one that isn't especially spiritual, but did teach me to recognize the difference. One thing I notice is when the Spirit speaks to me, He says "You". When I'm thinking my own thoughts, I think, "I". It's such a slight difference it's hard to notice. Here's my story. When I was 13, my sister and I were home alone while our parents were on a date one night. I wanted to wait up for them and they were taking much longer than expected (it turned out my mom went to the ER with a terrible earache). I decided I would play with my dog to pass the time - something I typically did upstairs. The Spirit said, "Go play downstairs." I didn't recognize it as the Spirit at first. I played for a while and the Spirit said, "Look out the window." I thought, "I don't want to look out the window." It repeated, "Look out the window." So I did. It was very dark and I had to cup my hands around my eyes to peer into the backyard. To my horror, there was someone dressed in black crawling in my backyard. I really didn't believe what was happening because it seemed so bizarre to me. The Spirit said, "Your brother's window is open!" This was a split-level house and my brother's room was on the ground level. I never ventured into his room because he was a yucky, smelly boy (haha) so I really had no way of knowing that his window was open. But I ran in there and sure enough it was open a good 4 inches or so. I slammed it shut, locked it, and ran upstairs to my sister, still in denial about what was going on. I thought, "I should call the police!! But what if they show up and there's really no one there and I get in trouble????" (I should've called) I decided to keep my sister away from the windows and not tell her because I knew she would freak out. I didn't even tell my parents when they got home because I wondered if they would believe me. The next morning we were eating breakfast and my mom said, "Who put their muddy handprint on my window?" The window above the kitchen sink had a big, muddy handprint that was smeared as if someone had tried to open it. The only way to reach that window is to stand on the railing of the stairs that lead to the back porch. I told my mom, "Uhhhhh ... there's something I didn't tell you last night ..."

Anyway, that's just one example. As far as the Spirit testifying that there is a God, that Jesus is the Christ, etc., the best way I can describe it is a feeling of love. Love is a feeling that you can't explain, but it's there. When I look at my children and feel love for them, it's almost as if my soul grows. I have that same feeling when I read the scriptures, pray, or receive a blessing. Perhaps it's different for everybody, but that's how it is for me.

MorningStar

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deermee

Thank your generous words. Perhaps I was a little too defensive of mormons. I have a husband who is very anti mormon and hear so much belittlement of the mormon mentality. I am very unafraid to venture out into no mans land called "I dont know if I agree with..." I started out months ago in the anti mormon sites and have found a spiritual lightness growing inside as I study the scriptures and teachings and pray continuously for the Holy Ghost to guide me in knowing what is true and what isnt. I wish I had had the courage to do it when I was younger. I still get into disagreements with the doctrines at times, such as the fall of Adam and Eve. I have found so many members who tell me that they dont want to know what the anti mormons have to say, they know the church is true and accept all its teachings. I am not like that. Perhaps because my father was a liar, but i dont trust something because it is said. I have to study things out for me. I dont have the faith of them. I am who I am and apparantly God takes all things into consideration as he deals with each of us differently. I have been finding an increasing joy and peace as I study specific things. I have come to the determination and not the conclusion, but I stress determination, this is of God, the Gospel of Christ that is restored. This has been a long hard journey that is just beginning as I turn the corner onto a new cobblestone of experience. I am grateful for your kindness and understanding of who you are. God Bless

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All I'm saying is you don't have to force yourself to believe in something that's false just because you feel some social obligation. Just because you were born into the LDS church doesn't mean you have to remain LDS. If you are getting along fine without weekly indoctrination session, endless meetings, church busy-work, and home-teaching assignments, why subject yourself to all that nonsense? Religion exists for those who need it; if you don't need a crutch, why walk with one? I'm sure God will understand.

After all, what kind of supreme being requires membership in a club for admittance into heaven? If a god is more concerned with which church you belong to than living a decent, honest life, do you really want to worship that god?

You should read some of the things I have read and do it with a prayer in your heart for direction and then follow the directions given. You would however have to have a desire to know the truth. My brother once told me he felt like his professor had a point, that religion is a crutch that only the weak need. I told my brother that I couldnt think of a one of us 5 kids that were weak minded, although considering the genious IQ of dad, perhaps we should be careful not rely on our own interpretation of God without first praying about it. God knows how we feel and there are no secrets there. There is a powerful freedom in talking to an allknowing creator who loves us because we are. There is a great comfort in knowing that no matter how bad I can screw things up, there is a remedy and I dont have to do it without him. I could go on and on but my point is that if this is a crutch, give me a dozen.

I am not big enough to do all that is necessary to bring joy, peace and order to my life. I am a simple person who believes that the teachings in the beatitudes, the golden rule, the 10 commandments, the lords prayer, the various teachings of christ are the simple truths that lead us to the best relationships with everyone we know. Give me that crutch, brother!g

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All I'm saying is you don't have to force yourself to believe in something that's false just because you feel some social obligation. Just because you were born into the LDS church doesn't mean you have to remain LDS. If you are getting along fine without weekly indoctrination session, endless meetings, church busy-work, and home-teaching assignments, why subject yourself to all that nonsense? Religion exists for those who need it; if you don't need a crutch, why walk with one? I'm sure God will understand.

After all, what kind of supreme being requires membership in a club for admittance into heaven? If a god is more concerned with which church you belong to than living a decent, honest life, do you really want to worship that god?

You should read some of the things I have read and do it with a prayer in your heart for direction and then follow the directions given. You would however have to have a desire to know the truth. My brother once told me he felt like his professor had a point, that religion is a crutch that only the weak need. I told my brother that I couldnt think of a one of us 5 kids that were weak minded, although considering the genious IQ of dad, perhaps we should be careful not rely on our own interpretation of God without first praying about it. God knows how we feel and there are no secrets there. There is a powerful freedom in talking to an allknowing creator who loves us because we are. There is a great comfort in knowing that no matter how bad I can screw things up, there is a remedy and I dont have to do it without him. I could go on and on but my point is that if this is a crutch, give me a dozen.

I am not big enough to do all that is necessary to bring joy, peace and order to my life. I am a simple person who believes that the teachings in the beatitudes, the golden rule, the 10 commandments, the lords prayer, the various teachings of christ are the simple truths that lead us to the best relationships with everyone we know. Give me that crutch, brother!g

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Mike, in case you are in here one last time, Thank you for such a potent and powerful subject. Seems a lot of us have benefited from your question and from the words of everyone. I cant think of anyone I havent enjoyed reading and will continue in here as well as in other places here.

Please know that you left a great impression on all of us and God Bless You!

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