During a weekend intensive on the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives, I was impressed once again with the importance that the Course gives to the Holy Spirit as the Voice for God, and to our learning to listen to Him and hear Him. Lesson 275 in the Workbook really struck me in that regard:
God's healing Voice protects all things today (W-pII.275).
What stood out to me was the importance of hearing God's Voice through the day. This lesson singles out the day it is practiced as a day specially set apart for hearing the Holy Spirit: a day in which we will "seek and hear and learn and understand" (W-pII.275.1:2). Jesus appeals to us, "Join me in hearing" (W-pII.275.1:3). And that is something I want to do; I want to pay particular attention to the Voice for God in the days to come. I want to make a focused effort to hear, or, as Section I of Chapter 30 puts it, to make no decision by myself.
The practice instructions for this second part of the Workbook call for us to spend longer times in the morning and evening, and then, during the day, to spend a minute or two every hour, and to remember the lesson several times in between every hour. What would your day be like if you made a firm decision in the morning to set your mind into the pattern of listening for God's Voice, and then, four or five times every hour, paused briefly to remind yourself of that purpose, and to listen? What would your life be like if you did this every day for a half a year? Surely this is the lesson's intent; surely this is the Workbook's training goal: to encourage us in the practice of hearing and following the Guide given to us at all times, all through the day and every day.
I believe that, with practice, we can get to the place where, through our decision to hear God's Voice, we will begin to find ourselves guided by that Voice in everything. "For Your Voice will tell me what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world" (W-pII.275.2:3). That is pretty detailed instruction! And it covers every aspect of our lives. I believe we all can do this, and that training us in this listening and hearing is one of the major goals of this Workbook. It is something we must practice,however, if we are to learn it.
We might think that to practice listening to the Holy Spirit, we must get alone and be quiet. While that is partially true, and is certainly encouraged in the Course, this lesson hints at another aspect. To truly learn to hear God's Voice, we must unite, first with Jesus, and then with our brothers. We must be willing to learn to hear His Voice in our brothers.
In Lesson 275, Jesus asks us to join him in hearing the Voice for God, as if he were asking us to join him in his work. In the Text, he speaks of hearing the Voice for God as if that was the distinguishing mark of what he accomplished—as if "hearing one Voice" is what he accomplished:
I heard one Voice because I understood that I could not atone for myself alone (T-5.IV.4:1).
In the next sentence he ties listening closely to his recognition of our unity with God and one another. He says:
Listening to one Voice implies the decision to share It in order to hear It yourself (T-5.IV.4:2).
There is an important connection here. To hear the Voice you must be willing to share the Voice. "Listening to one Voice implies the decision to share it in order to hear it yourself." The lesson echoes the idea: "For the Voice for God tells us of things we cannot understand alone, nor learn apart" (W-pII.275.1:4). That is why we must join with Jesus, and with one another, in hearing. If we do listen to the Voice, we will share it, because it speaks of sharing. It speaks of the one Self we all share; it speaks of our union with one another, our shared innocence.
What does it mean to "share" the Voice? In simplest form, I think it means that I see in others what the Voice says is true of me. If I am one with God, so are they. If I am sinless, so are they. If God loves me, God loves them equally. No one is excluded. In fact, the message of Oneness implies total forgiveness, because if I am "whole" it must mean my brothers have not hurt me, and therefore are innocent. Sharing the Voice means that I realize the Voice is speaking, not just to myself or about myself, but about everyone, and in everyone.
The paragraph quoted above continues:
The Mind that was in me is still irresistibly drawn to every mind created by God, because God's Wholeness is the Wholeness of His Son. You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness. Show him that he cannot hurt you and hold nothing against him, or you hold it against yourself. This is the meaning of "turning the other cheek" (T-5.IV.4:3-6).
When we listen to the Voice for God, we hear and share a message of wholeness. The fact that it is "one Voice" carries with it the notion that it is the same Voice for each of us; it is a shared Voice. When we listen to that Voice, we show our brothers that they have not and cannot hurt us. We do not reinforce their belief in their egos and the actions of their egos (see T-5.IV.2:13); we reinforce their (perhaps) dim awareness of our shared reality, our Christ Self. We show them their innocence. We hold nothing against them, nor against ourselves. The same message is repeated in the following chapter:
Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Communication Link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves (T-6.I.19:1-2).
Jesus makes this clear for us in a passage from Chapter 5 of the Text. He tells us that his decision, which was to hear only that one Voice, was what gave him all power in Heaven and on earth (T-5.II.9:2). He then says that you and I can make that exact same decision, and that helping us to do that is his purpose, his "only gift" to us.
My mind will always be like yours, because we were created as equals. It was only my decision that gave me all power in Heaven and earth. My only gift to you is to help you make the same decision. This decision is the choice to share it, because the decision itself is the decision to share. It is made by giving, and is therefore the one choice that resembles true creation. I am your model for decision. By deciding for God I showed you that this decision can be made, and that you can make it (T-5.II.9:1-7).
He wants us to join him in hearing, which means to make the same decision he made to hear only one Voice, which is also "the choice to share it." The choice is "made by giving." That means that to hear, we must give!
Jesus gave us his personal example of this, a "model for decision," in his crucifixion:
I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter.
We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose…When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all (T-6.I.9:1; 10:1-6).
To join Jesus in hearing God's Voice means that we can learn from his experiences, even his experience of crucifixion, and we can be reawakened by his experiences. We need not experience those things ourselves. And that applies equally to learning from one another! If we can listen to the Holy Spirit in our brothers, we can learn from their experiences, without the necessity of our directly going through their experiences. So to hear the Holy Spirit means not only to hear Him within our own minds; it means hearing Him in others just as we can hear Him in Jesus. We hear the Holy Spirit in others by recognizing that He is in them, teaching them the same lessons of forgiveness that He is teaching us. We are told that our brothers do not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in themselves in order for this to happen:
The idea of the Holy Spirit…increases in you as you give it to your brother. Your brother does not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in himself or in you for this miracle to occur. He may have dissociated the Call for God, just as you have. This dissociation is healed in both of you as you become aware of the Call for God in him, and thus acknowledge Its being (T-5.III.2:4-10).
To hear the Holy Spirit in one another means, then, that we acknowledge the Call for God in each other. Doing so seems to be a key factor in our learning to hear God's Voice. In fact, the Course tells us that it is impossible to hear Him in ourselves alone. I have boldfaced two key sentences below:
You can no more pray for yourself alone than you can find joy for yourself alone. Prayer is the restatement of inclusion, directed by the Holy Spirit under the laws of God. Salvation is of your brother. 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. And His answer is only for what you are. You will not know the trust I have in you unless you extend it. You will not trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or believe that it is for you unless you hear it in others. It must be for your brother because it is for you. Would God have created a Voice for you alone? Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God's Sons (T-9.II.6:1-11)?
So, let me be alert today to listen for God's Voice in the people around me as well as in myself. It's the same Holy Spirit; "the Holy Spirit is one." When a friend is going through a tough breakup in a love relationship, let me realize that I can learn the lesson he is being given in this situation if I acknowledge the Spirit of God within him. Let me listen for the Voice for God in him, instead of being caught up in the ego drama. And let me echo to him what I hear: the encouragement, the lack of condemnation, the call to relinquish judgment, the assertion that only love was real in that relationship, or any relationship. That, too, is part of hearing only one Voice.
I have assured you that the Mind that decided for me is also in you, and that you can let it change you just as it changed me. This Mind is unequivocal, because it hears only one Voice and answers in only one way. You are the light of the world with me (T-5.II.10:1-3).
Deciding to hear God's Voice also means accepting our place as the light of the world, along with Jesus. It means we are hearing in order to awaken the same hearing in everyone.
Rest does not come from sleeping but from waking. The Holy Spirit is the call to awaken and be glad. The world is very tired, because it is the idea of weariness. Our task is the joyous one of waking it to the Call for God. Everyone will answer the Call of the Holy Spirit, or the Sonship cannot be as one. What better vocation could there be for any part of the Kingdom than to restore it to the perfect integration that can make it whole? Hear only this through the Holy Spirit within you, and teach your brothers to listen as I am teaching you (T-5.II.10:4-10).
If we hear, we will share, because what we hear when we listen is the message of a shared Self, a message that tells us everyone must answer the Call or "the Sonship cannot be as one."
My prayer today is that many of you who read this will join with me, and with Jesus, in attempting today to hear only this one Voice, in ourselves and in one another. What better vocation could there be than joining together to waken the world to the Call for God, and to restore it to perfect integration, in which we recognize each other as parts of a single Whole? It takes effort to do this. It takes diligence. It takes repeatedly making the choice not to hear the voice of our "other devotions" (T-5.II.8:8). It is a task, a vocation, a calling, but it is a joyous one! "The healing of God's Son is all the world is for" (T-24.VI.4:1).