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Limitations to the Holy Ghost’s Influence


echelon

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Is it possible that there in fact mortal (mental and physiological) limitations that would make a person incapable of feeling the spirit for most if not all their life and if so, why does our church doctrine promise/demand something that may not be possible. 

“All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel.” (italicized added - Church Website under topics 'Holy Ghost')

“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost." (President Nelson)

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” Moroni 10:4

Commanded to “Always have his spirit to be with them” (Sacrament Prayer)
 

People I have met who are living with constant pain or mental illnesses have told me they don’t feel the spirit.  Whether it be at a fireside, the temple or during a blessing for example, they felt nothing.  Because of these experiences I am starting to believe that there are in fact people on this earth who, through no fault of their own are incapable of feeling the spirit and have to live through life with a severe disadvantage compared to those who can. For the majority of my life I was under the impression that no matter what the situation or condition a person finds himself in, that person will always be able to feel if nothing else, the love of God through the Holy Ghost.  That feeling alone would then be a source of encouragement, helping the individual endure the trials and in short serves as a reminder that God has not abandoned you.  But it seems that those who are incapable of feeling it, don't even get that.

Secondly, if it is agreed that there are people who are incapable of feeling the spirit, would this then suggest it is not necessary to feel the spirit in order for one to 'get by' in life and still obtain salvation according to a just God?

I really enjoy those who post on the board, I’ve been reading for years but have only recently joined.  I would appreciate your thoughts on this topic, thank you.

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Yes. I experienced three years of such absence due to medication.  I see no reason that the same couldn’t happen with chemicals supplied by the brain itself or the lack of needed chemicals for awareness and thus be a lifelong condition. 

Then there is my daughter’s situation where her experiences with her moods being constantly dominated by internal physical conditions (low or high blood sugar, low quality of sleep, deep depression, hormonal changes of thyroid and others) leads to lack of trust that the internal perception experience corresponds sufficiently  to external.  She may be able to feel the Spirit, but is prevented from trusting it as even existing.  There is a more likely chance any spiritual feelings are drowned out in the noise of her physically caused feelings.

———

As far as the Church teaching of all who seek will find...yep, that is problematic for me. Can’t reconcile it with what I have observed and personally experienced (unless I assume it means the answers may come only in the next life).

———

would this then suggest it is not necessary to feel the spirit in order for one to 'get by' in life and still obtain salvation according to a just God?”

I see it as similar to any other limitation in that opportunities missed here for growth will be given in the next life and people won’t be judged on what they didn’t have. 

I don’t believe we are judged by only what happens while living, but of the total experience of what we learn and accept and act on up until we are at the moment of judgment.  Thus we will have plenty of time post death to be exposed to the Spirit and learn from it. 

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, echelon said:

Is it possible that there in fact mortal (mental and physiological) limitations that would make a person incapable of feeling the spirit for most if not all their life and if so, why does our church doctrine promise/demand something that may not be possible.

Yes.

Actually, I had the other issue for a while, I could hear EVERYTHING from the other side of the veil and I had to learn not all voices are good just because they are 'supernatural' so to speak. So I actually shut down that side of myself and basically told Heavenly Father he had to find some other way to talk to me, and he said, "Yep."

I do think that the emphasis on no coffee, alcohol, etc is at least partly an understanding that the body choices we make modify or block the spirit.

I also came to appreciate the prophet, because for all the folks that can't have an internal conversation, God put it on the outside, in hearing.

Now I understand the spirit to be something more or a different than feeling promptings or feeling good. Those may be aspects, but my main experience of the spirit these days is just like a fragrance to everything that lifts the experience to the best it could be, if I allow it, which doesn't mean that the challenges go away, but just that I'm not alone in them or how to say it. I don't really notice it until for some reason it's gone or less (like when I lower my choices and don't make invitations and support the spirit).

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The limitation isn't the Holy Ghost, it is the mortal capacity of one to feel, hear, and understand Him (or Her, not sure we know the gender at this point).   IME, ordinary stress and anxiety and depression, and chronic hunger and trauma around and to you can all interfere with that temporarily.    But that doesn't mean that a person is somehow at fault when they don't feel Him.   Our personal best (and quick repentance --- which is usually not an issue when those things are the struggle) is ALWAYS and forever good enough for our Heavenly Parents and Savior.   There is no doubt in my mind that all of them and the Holy Ghost continue to administer and affect and inspire those who struggle to hear them , or know them, or want to hear them.     I have a testimony that Elder Pratt's description of His power in bold below is accurate.

The Holy Ghost

(Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, pp. 101- 103)

 
Quote

 bar.gif He is an intelligent being, in the Image of God, possessing every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, and affection that is possessed by God Himself. But these are possessed by man, in his rudimental state, in a subordinate sense of the word. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo, and are to be gradually developed. They resemble a bud, a germ, which gradually develops into a bloom and then, by progress, produces the mature fruit after its own kind. The Gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections and adapts them by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to give health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.
In the presence of such persons (who have been thus affected by It), one feels to enjoy the light of their countenance, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy of Spirit. No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview- "Oh, what an atmosphere encircles that stranger! How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in the presence of this person. What confidence and sympathy he inspired. His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance than a thousand written recommendations, or introductory letters." Such is the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and such are it's operations, when received through the lawful channel-the Divine, Eternal Priesthood.

 

Edited by rpn
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7 hours ago, ksfisher said:

I don't think the church has said how long the seeking will take.  Some may find immediately.  For others it may be the journey of a lifetime (or beyond).

That is the best way to reconcile, allow it to be in the next life....but it is often taught as in the here and now (such as "can feel" not "eventually will feel") similar to Nephi's if God gives a commandment, he gives a way to fulfill it.

Edited by Calm
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On 9/12/2019 at 2:33 PM, Calm said:

Yes. I experienced three years of such absence due to medication.  I see no reason that the same couldn’t happen with chemicals supplied by the brain itself or the lack of needed chemicals for awareness and thus be a lifelong condition. 

Then there is my daughter’s situation where her experiences with her moods being constantly dominated by internal physical conditions (low or high blood sugar, low quality of sleep, deep depression, hormonal changes of thyroid and others) leads to lack of trust that the internal perception experience corresponds sufficiently  to external.  She may be able to feel the Spirit, but is prevented from trusting it as even existing.  There is a more likely chance any spiritual feelings are drowned out in the noise of her physically caused feelings.

———

As far as the Church teaching of all who seek will find...yep, that is problematic for me. Can’t reconcile it with what I have observed and personally experienced (unless I assume it means the answers may come only in the next life).

———

would this then suggest it is not necessary to feel the spirit in order for one to 'get by' in life and still obtain salvation according to a just God?”

I see it as similar to any other limitation in that opportunities missed here for growth will be given in the next life and people won’t be judged on what they didn’t have. 

I don’t believe we are judged by only what happens while living, but of the total experience of what we learn and accept and act on up until we are at the moment of judgment.  Thus we will have plenty of time post death to be exposed to the Spirit and learn from it. 

I think I get the comments you made, but God can and does often find so many in their darkest hour. I have seen it, experienced it, and had others and myself transformed by it. I have at times be harshly criticized for using some medications, including misguided books by members who have written books, telling others that taking certain meds, would rob them of any chance of feeling the Spirit. Some of these books are still out there, where the suggestion of those who reach for even “over the counter”, meds for headaches, or backaches, or any ache robs all of the “Spirit of God, and Revelation”. I have some of the issues you listed, such as “high and low blood sugar”, where Insulin has saved my life, far too many times. I also broke my back, that kept me bedridden for almost a years, but now manage with a cane, because of medications that keep me from just giving up. Nor my wife or I ever mention medications I take, because the few times we did, members took it upon themselves to criticize and ridicule me. People I thought of as friends, were engaging in whisper campaigns, that caused other friends to express concern. I will over ask, “you were not aware”? The reply was, well no, I would then tell them, “that all the times I taught, or gave a talk, in the last 71/2 years, where you told me how I was filled with the Spirit, and felt it, it was both the medications you are worried about, and the aide of the Lord, that allowed me to stand up, and speak”. 

In the beginning, it was tough for me and my doctors to figure out, the best dosage. But, not without a lot of shaming through, literature and “friends”, but I have gotten through it, more through the power of prayer. My current Bishop asked me earlier in the year, “why he has not seen me in the Temple”, I told him my last Bishop, knowing my meds, expressed concern, that taking them might rob me of the Spirit should I attend. It was to say the least devastating, but my current Bishop said, “If only I had the Spirit that you do”. I am sure he was being kind, but he did say more, “Brother Lee, get back to the Temple, we need you, we love you”. Then he assigned me to give a talk in Sacrament, which was very well received, but I did not, will not make the mistake of trusting others with that information again; ever! 

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Thank you for your comments, so far the only acknowledgement by God of allowing people to go through life without feeling the Holy Ghost I found is in these verses from D&C 46:

Quote

11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

I know these verses specify the feeling as a witness of Jesus Christ, but I think it is reasonable to restate it as "To some, you will not be able to feel the witness of truth in this life and just have to believe those who profess that they do".  Not very comforting but I trust God designing it to be that way has a purpose.

Pursuant to my second question, verse 14 suggests that there is no need to feel the spirit in this life if at least one person you trust has it.   That being the case, feeling the spirit then serves as an advantage over those who cannot.  This can be both encouraging and discouraging.  On one hand I don't need the spirit to believe something, and on the other hand it will take considerably more faith or time to confirm the truth using other means. 

The equalizer in all this I believe is the light of Christ, weak as it is, gives mankind that nudge of common sense helping us believe where the spirit is absent. 

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Considering all the legitimate 'blocks' to feeling the Holy Ghost and the fact that God allows it to inhibit our ability to feel the Spirit tells me that it is not necessary to feel the Spirit in order to live a righteous life.  Yet the Church incessantly talks about it as though it is critical for sustaining a righteous life without which you as a person will never measure up to God's expectations. 

Setting aside all the blessings that come from feeling the spirit, it would be nice for the people I know, if in conference next month there is a message about how those who are incapable of feeling the spirit can live a fulfilling and righteous life while having to endure trials different than those who can feel the spirit.

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If you don't have a spiritual witness, how do you decide what is righteous?

My daughter is agnostic for the very reason of not feeling the Spirit.  Nor do I think she feels the need to work on improving herself in terms of goodness as she is a decent, kind and loving person already, so since she has no sense of divinity to rolemodel, no motivation to work towards perfection, etc. why bother?

As far as not necessary, I think that is likely dependent with what God has blessed you with in your life.  If you are blessed with a fine awareness of the Spirit and you ignore it, I can see that as being problematic just as if someone was blessed with wealth who then chose to keep it all to themselves and not share with those in need might be judged as a sinner where someone in poverty would not.

Edited by Calm
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Thanks again everyone for being open with your experiences.  I think I understand a bit more (I'm no expert) how the spirit functions and be more accepting of God's design.

1. The Holy Ghost is a feeling in and of itself (the witness of truth)

2. The Holy Ghost can create feelings within us (though we have no real way of telling it is from the Holy Ghost without the ability to feel a witness of it)

3. The Holy Ghost can communicate thoughts within us (though we have no real way of telling it is from the Holy Ghost without the ability to feel a witness of it)

I know that while my family and friends say that they don't feel the spirit, they still have feelings and thoughts that come to them.  This tells me they can also have feelings or thoughts from God when they need it, even without the spiritual witness to tell them where it came from.

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On 9/12/2019 at 12:26 PM, echelon said:

I am starting to believe that there are in fact people on this earth who, through no fault of their own are incapable of feeling the spirit and have to live through life with a severe disadvantage compared to those who can. 

God’s ways are more mysterious than we realize.  I tend to believe the character and essence of each person was established in the pre-mortal existence.  That was the point where a person could determine their own course; when they truly had free will.  However, now that we have been placed in the realm of time and mortality, we no longer have the kind of free will that we once had pre-mortally.  Now it is God who determines our course, our thoughts, our actions — our physiology.  This is so that one’s choice of character and essence is fulfilled.  God is leading people to become who they have always wanted to be.  In other words, good people who do not feel as though they have the Spirit might, in fact, have it.  They are an instrument of God, used for the purpose of fulfilling the pre-existence. 

I hope these words bring you comfort.

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I suspect that many who believe they are unable to communicate with the Holy Ghost have idealized one form of communication (probably the emotional frothy one) as the only method the Holy Ghost uses. When spirit speaks to spirit an embodied spirit can have a physical emotional reaction to it. Human are amphibians of flesh and spirit. What influences one can have ramifications on the other. I suspect that this spillover can be blocked. I am not convinced that the Holy Ghost somehow cannot communicate with the spirit even if the body cannot feel a reaction.

Don’t get me long. I love the reaction and get a lot of them and I wish everyone got them but I am not convinced they are mandatory.

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