This talk given March 7, 2021 can be found at my Facebook professional page: Michael Hall, PhD:
What can we do to assist the process of discerning God’s will?
Ask for guidance. Do not assume that you know the right answer. It is essential to ask with absolute humility and openness to have the way revealed.
Willingness is essential. This willingness to be shown and to follow through with action is the meaning of surrender. It is definitely possible to recognize the need for an action that is not appealing or even goes against our own best judgment. Even if we receive guidance but do not wish to follow, waiting is usually ok. When a particular action is ‘suggested’ repeatedly, it is probably wise to follow it. This process does not negate the thinking mind or undercut the role of reason, critical judgment or thinking in the usual sense. However, if we are not willing, we will not be able to see what is revealed. Willingness benefits from a comfort and even eagerness to dwell in ‘not knowing’. Not knowing is your friend. The mind that knows is closed. Adopt the perspective of not knowing. Learn to be ok with uncertainty.
It is a myth that we should know what we are doing all the time. Only those who are closed can always know the truth. A closed mind knows programming and belief, not revealed truth. We are looking for revealed truth. Programming and belief are already known and limited in power and effectiveness in the world. Therefore, we must remain open and frequently dwell in a kind of uncertainty. Learning to tolerate this Cloud of Unknowing is a large part of the spiritual path. We are always searching for the revelation of the Will of God.
When in doubt, it is often good judgment to wait. Wait in the not knowing. Expect to know but recognize and accept when you don’t know. Try to be content with not knowing. When the time is right and there is a need, what is next will be revealed.
How can we discern the difference between what my conditioned mind wants and what God wants? It is not always easy or clear. There are certainly no rules. To recognize it requires trust, intuition and surrender. Usually, however, God’s will is not subtle or hard to recognize. It tends to be insistent. You will notice yourself repeatedly revisiting an idea or plan of action. If something repeatedly occurs to me without obvious external or internal prompting, it is a safe bet I am receiving guidance. Once you recognize the guidance, try to relax and carry through with it to the best of your ability. Try to avoid doubt or any other kind of worry or rumination. Worry is your thinking mind doing what it does best. It is not helpful and is really just a bad habit. Observe the worry and then try to ignore it.
The indicated action that is revealed is a ‘next’. Try to stay present and attuned, always open to further guidance. Recognizing and carrying out guidance skillfully requires understanding and practice. These skills will develop over time, as with anything else. Remember experiences where you felt guided in the past and review the outcomes. You will see that things went well, often much better than you could have ever imagined. While the indicated action might engender fear to the self-identity beforehand, there is usually a feeling of relief and ‘rightness’ afterwards. Try to maintain awareness of this entire process. We all have this ability inherent in us as human beings, although some appear to be naturally more at ease with the required letting go of perceived control.
Eventually this other way of knowing becomes second nature and is mostly effortless. Interruptions in the flow of awareness come as conditioned beliefs and habits are triggered. This eruption of conditioning and fear is not a problem. Rather, it is an opportunity to become more aware of unconscious programming and release it. In other words, it is an opportunity to become more free and clear. Everything that appears to be a problem will yield to a calm and present awareness.