Spiritual seekers at all levels of evolution understand the benefits of listening to what is called that still, small voice. Publications like Guideposts have sold millions of copies retelling stories about that voice where the divine nudge saved someone from a dangerous situation.
This sets up a puzzling query when we do walk headlong into something undesirable: “Where was that voice THIS time?”
I believe that the voice is always with us, but we fail to recognize it. We miss it when we forget to pay attention or when we doubt or second-guess what we’ve “heard“. Today I had an interesting experience that highlights this point.
I was meeting some friends for brunch in a busy district of the city. Parking is at a premium, traffic was a little intense and I had not been in this part of town for some time. I made my way through the narrow streets and past rows of filled parking spaces and finally saw a sign for a parking lot.
As I turned into the lot, I noticed the sign: $10 for 90-minutes; $15 for all day. I immediately had a feeling that said “No!” but it was followed shortly thereafter by my self-doubting, chastising inner dialogue.
“You’re being cheap,…everyone knows you have to pay for parking.”
“Don’t be a country-bumpkin; if you want to dine in the city, you need to be willing to pay.”
As it turned out, it was a CASH lot and I only had a Debit card. The attendant offered to let me park and walk across the street to the ATM, but today I decided to listen to the inner wisdom and not to the self-doubt. I left to seek a different parking experience.
I drove a few blocks and circled back and found an easy on-street parking space. It was beautiful outside and I enjoyed having the chance to add a brisk walk to my day. I went to the parking kiosk to enter my license plate and pay with my Debit card and the sign flashing on the kiosk said: “No payment needed on Sundays“.
“Hah!” I said to myself, realizing that the message I received as I entered the $10 – $15 parking lot was not only perfectly timed, but spot on. I would have been mad at myself if I had ignored the nudge not to park there, and later found out that it was free on-street parking on Sundays!
In metaphysical spirituality we speak of God as the Infinite Intelligence; an ever-present Reality. Ever-present means we have access to the intelligence at all times – not just in times of great danger. The key to tapping into this Intelligence is learning to listen; learning to not discount what we “hear” – instead listening to the self-doubt and negative self-talk that can bubble up right after the divine nudge.
In the Hebrew and Christian biblical canons, this Intelligence is often represented as an Angel coming with a message or a communication received in a dream.
13 Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt; 15 and was there until the death of Herod,… [Matthew 2]
Those familiar with the Bible will recall that Herod had all male babies under the age of two who were living in Bethlehem killed – a timely spiritual nudge for Joseph, his wife and child – the infant Jesus.
Today I had an opportunity to examine the difference between that still, small voice of wisdom and my inner “tapes” of self-doubt. Because the situation was a no-risk, low-key situation, I had a perfect window to see the difference between the two and learn an important lesson.
If we’re unskilled in listening, it’s easy to confuse the wisdom of Infinite Intelligence with the voice of our inner critic. And while it doesn’t matter much on things like parking places, at times it can be critically important.
We are the benefactors of a great gift – access to an inner wisdom that is ever with us, always on time, and accurate. To take full advantage of it we must practice listening every day so to hone our interpretation skills – learning how to differentiate between old tapes of self-doubt/criticism and the wisdom that is ever-present and always available.
(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path