What follows are my personal observations about following the Holy Spirit’s plan. These may be somewhat idiosyncratic to me, my temperament and my experience. But I hope they will be of some benefit to you as well.
- The Holy Spirit’s plan is for real.
There is an actual plan for every level of your life–from the big vision all the way down to the details–that is infinitely brilliant and far-seeing, and that infinitely exceeds your ability to plot your own course.
- His plan has a Mind of its own, a Mind that is totally independent of your usual thoughts, desires and dreams.
One of the hallmarks of His plan is that you wouldn’t have come up with it on your own. Thus, it will often feel threatening, or like it is coming out of left field. Sometimes your dreams will overlap with His, but not because He has caved in to the overpowering pressure of your desires. He acts only for your happiness, and is uninfluenced by what you think will make you happy.
- His plan is amazingly consistent over time–if you tap into the real plan.
Let’s say you really tap into His plan once, try to apply it, fail, head off on a different course, change that course, forget the original guidance, then, after 20 years and many more course changes, tap into His plan again. He will not have changed His Mind one bit.
- His plan is your lifeline. It is the rock you stand on. It is your foundation. Consider your life to be not your own. Consider it to be His.
Rather than thinking of your life in terms of charting your own course to find a satisfying life for yourself, think of your goal as settling your life into the groove of His plan.
- Lean on His guidance as an older person would lean on a walker.
Realize that on your own you are lost. You are wandering in a strange city in total darkness…without your walker.
- Try to build your visions, plans and decisions on top of genuine pieces of guidance.
…not on your logical calculations or on the pull of your desires. And try not to bring guidance in to take care of the details after you have already formed the big picture.
- The crucial attitude is wanting to know the truth more than your own ideas, and being willing to constantly and ruthlessly separate the two.
In my experience, nothing is more important than this. Be willing to discard your ideas as if they were not even yours. Be excited when your ideas have been overturned, for then you can be certain you are touching a Mind beyond your own.
- In the absence of solid guidance, be tentative.
Realize you are groping in the dark and try to wait before you make your decision. For when the guidance comes it could overturn all that you built without it.
- Following guidance can save you an incredible amount of work and pain.
It can save you legwork, vacillating, backtracking, meandering, agonizing over the right decision and anxiety over whether you made it. Depending on the depth of your connection with the Holy Spirit, He can save you some or all of the work that goes into decision-making.
- Making the wrong decision is perfectly all right. He can work with anything we throw at Him.
Factored into His plan are an infinite number of contingency plans, one for every possible misstep we could make.
- Don’t worry about being guided on every little thing. But try not to make a mistake on the big things.
…not because it cannot be cleaned up, but because you don’t want to waste the time and effort.
- The important thing is following the spirit of His plan, not the letter (the outer form). His letter, however, is the best vehicle for His Spirit.
The spirit of His plan is salvation of the mind. That is the thing to follow. But remember that the letter of His plan–His specific forms–is what is most conducive to the salvation of your mind.
- You find His forms threatening because of their underlying content.
Oftentimes His guidance will feel like it is asking the hardest thing of you because the form He has chosen symbolizes the thing you don’t want to learn–the relinquishment of your ego.
- Guidance that tells you the right forms is valuable. But guidance that tells you the right content is more valuable still–if you apply it.
The drawback of guidance that tells you the form is that you can get too focused on the form at the expense of the content of love and forgiveness. The drawback of guidance that tells you the content is that, even though you are inspired by it, you will probably neglect to apply it.
- Everything in His plan has the purpose, not of giving you the good life, but of finally bringing you home to God.
You may think the guidance is for something else, for instance, for making things work out well on the outside. But getting you home is the only thing He cares about.
- There is a fog between our mind and His. This makes genuine guidance a somewhat rare phenomenon in the world.
This is the basis for many of the following points.
- Your first question about possible guidance must be, “How can I be sure that this was real guidance from the Holy Spirit?”
How does it feel? Does it look fair and feel foul, or look foul but feel fair? See if you can tell a believable story that gives the impression that this guidance did not come from your mental machinations but from somewhere beyond them.
- The real thing is precious. When you experience it, treasure it, keep it close to your heart, ask yourself over time how can you follow it better.
There are guidance experiences that tower above others. These are the ones to remember, to steer your life by, and to never let go of. Even if you have only one experience of guidance in your life that you are sure of, hang onto that one.
- Before seeking specific guidance, try to identify and release your egoic perceptions, judgments and attachments.
Any strong egoic thoughts and feelings will either block the guidance from coming or make it sound threatening or irrelevant when it does come. So when you are going to seek guidance on a situation, first take a reading on how you are seeing and feeling about the situation. Look for strong ego attachments and assumptions and try to release them. Ask for help to see things differently.
- The Spirit will sometimes speak more clearly and dramatically. When this happens and which topic gets addressed is a function of His agenda, not yours.
You can ask until you are blue in the face on a topic He does not consider important and get zilch. But you can merely turn your thought to a topic He cares about and have the heavens open up. Or they can just open of their own accord, without you asking at all.
- You will probably receive guidance more easily and more frequently on your special function than on other topics, even topics you have more caring about.
This does not mean that guidance does not speak to other issues. I have just noticed, both in my life and in the lives of others, that it speaks to this issue more frequently.
- In trying to apply a piece of genuine guidance, stay open about the details (especially of timing) but have confidence in the essence of it. Don’t relinquish that frivolously.
This is a crucial juggling act. Guidance will often be either misleading or wrong about the specifics, but if it is genuine guidance it will have a solid core to it. So as you walk forward attempting to carry it out, know that there is something true, something of enduring validity, at the heart of the guidance. But stay very open about how it will all work out.
- Keep a written record of your guidance.
If you really want to steer your life by guidance, you will probably want to keep a written record of what you have received, both for the sake of getting to know how much (and under what conditions) you can trust your guidance, and for the enduring value that guidance may hold for you.
- Look for patterns among different instances of guidance. These patterns will allow you to see directly into the Mind of the Holy Spirit.
If the instances are genuine and are about roughly the same topic, there will be patterns (see #3 above). Discovering these will bestow priceless insight into His plan for you.
- Find the forms of guidance that work best for you. When you find the one that works best, exploit it to the hilt.
Certain forms will work better for certain people. Much of this, I believe, is a matter of abilities that you have built up over eons. When you find the one (or ones) that really work for you, run with it. Count it as the most precious treasure you could have.
- An inner voice can be very valuable, but don’t overrate this form of guidance. Its quality depends largely on the soundness of the deeper character of the person receiving it.
- Consult your highest inner sense constantly, even if it is not straight from the Holy Spirit.
You can always consult what I call your highest inner sense. Quiet your mind, ask your question and listen for the purest impulse within you. This may or may not be a direct pipeline to the Holy Spirit, but it is always available. Other forms of guidance will probably not be as available.
- Don’t be picky about where guidance comes from. If it’s from Him, it’s precious.
If it comes through intuitions, dreams, inner voice, outer synchronicities or through someone else, who cares? If it is for real, that is what matters.
- Your guidance may not do a lot of teaching on spiritual matters. If it does, make the Course your unabashed standard of measurement.
You simply cannot expect the guidance you receive from within to be on as high a plane as the Course, because you are not as gifted at receiving as Helen Schucman was. You’re just not. So measure what your guidance says against the Course. And if there is a difference, trust the guidance that guided you to the Course. Consider the Course your guidance.
- There is no substitute for the experience that comes from long, serious and frequent use of guidance.
Through using guidance for big issues and small ones over many years you will learn things you could never learn otherwise. You will become experienced in a field that is largely ignored but vastly important, that of living the Holy Spirit’s plan.