When Mary and I take long car rides, we usually read to each other. Recently, we have been reading from the book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places. It’s an allegory about our human journey to and with God, in which the author Hannah Hurnard characterizes all the emotions within us as physical human beings. The main character is a wounded, severely-crippled woman, named Much-afraid, who has to deal with an amazing assortment of antagonists who are attempting to halt “Much-afraid’s” journey to union with God, pictured as a Shepherd living on the mountain of Paradise.
In allegorical fashion, this is a story about our inner world of listening and responding to the voices that speak to us all day long. Listening to those inner voices is an important process of discerning an appropriate action.
I often, especially when I encounter new situations and new events in my life, unconsciously identify with my fear and could, at that moment, be called “Much-afraid” instead of Michael. I end up listening the different voices, different characters, in my mind. I listen to the voice of “Resentment,” or to the voice of “Worry,” or to voice of “Self-Pity,” or any of the other voices that start “talking” to me. They are like my cousins or distant family members. For some reason I pay very close attention to their advice.
While Mary was reading, I realized that I need to be careful about which “inner voice” is giving me advice. I have often taken pride in my keen awareness of the inner voice in my life. I have assumed that that “inner voice” was the voice of the Divine Mother who always would give me the best advice. She would always protect and care for me and help me move toward my life purpose, my dharma.
Now, I am aware that my “inner voice” may not be coming from my true identity as a child of the Divine Mother, but may be coming from a false identity of self, like my fear or self-hatred or ambition.
How do I know which voice is the truly divine voice?
Yoga says that we will know the true divine guidance when the prompting, the voice, is accompanied with light or peace or joy. When the voice is accompanied by fear, worry or selfishness, I must engage my buddhi, my discerning mind, before acting. I must ask myself, “Is this voice telling me what is good for me and for everyone else?” If so, then I will do it; if not, then I need to shut out that voice. I need to find my True Self’s voice, the one named, Michael.
Wow! I am taught again how fascinating our minds are. We sure are complex beings! “We are incredibly, and wonderfully made,” says the Hebrew psalm writer.