How The Holy Spirit Works

How The Holy Spirit Works

How do the Divine Mind and our own human intellect intertwine? What is the Holy Spirit? Join us as we decipher the metaphysics of the Trinity, gain insight into mystical prayer, and uncover the power of forging a direct connection with God.

All this and more awaits you in this podcast episode decoding the spiritual nature of reality. We discuss how metaphysics is not only a philosophical concept, but an experiential one as well. By attuning to the rhythms and patterns of creation, you’ll be awe-struck by the sheer grandeur and beauty of our universe.

Additionally, we delve into how mystics view metaphysics through prayer—Mystical Prayer—as a way to connect with the Holy Spirit and create an unyielding foundation of inner fortitude. We also discover the temple of our souls and what it means to listen with the ears of your heart.

Through meditation and silence, we come to understand that there is a power within us, beckoning us inwardly. As we tap into this insight, we uncover the truth of our Indwelling Spirit—an unconditional love that constantly guides and supports us, no matter what. 


Transcript

Today, we’re speaking about how the Holy Spirit works and how it feels in your life. This is important because when you can identify the sensation of this fiery presence, it feels like a spark in you— that when you can listen and follow, and attune your inner compass to this Fire’s beckoning, the effects ricochet through your life… Suddenly you have more clarity and conviction in your decision-making. You feel light, free, there’s a spaciousness and ease in your heart. It’s easier to move forward with confidence into the future that you are creating in your mind, your dreams. This is real magic. Stick around because I’ll show you how to use the power of the imagination to evoke the Fire of this marvellous mystery. 

Consciously aligning with the Holy Spirit is a form of Mystical Prayer. This is what the mystics, saints and prophets experience when they pray. Rather than thinking of this type of prayer as a practice that you take time out of your day to do, think of it as an experience that you can enter. A state of being from which you can live your whole life. We tend to think of prayer and meditation as something you take time out of your day to DO—closing your eyes, awareness of the breath, maybe folding your hands and getting in touch with your heart. But, mystical prayer is rather the effect (the byproduct) of a deep relationship with the fiery core of Ultimate Reality—The Holy Spirit. 

Mystical Prayer is like melting into The Mystery and resting in that quiet in-between zone between this physical place and the vast, non-physical space. Though I am using Christian vocabulary to describe these ideas, this experience of Divine Union is not exclusive to Christianity. In the yogic traditions it’s called Samadhi: which is a state of profound absorption in the Absolute that is undisturbed by ego-generated impulses—like cravings, or anger, or fear. 

Mystical Prayer is a largely thought-free state in which you realise that Everything is One-Thing. It is so awe-inspiring that these experiences leave people speechless—yet profoundly clear and grounded. 

The mark of authenticity is groundedness. Does your spiritual practice leave you feeling more grounded or less grounded in your real, day-to-day life? This is how you separate the wheat from the chaff. You have to be discerning because there’s a lot of airy-fairy stuff out there that will leave you feeling confused or disconnected or like you’ve been let in on some special secret of the Universe that others wouldn’t understand. You have to be careful because elated states of consciousness that leave you feeling dysregulated or isolated from others, those are potential red flags. Working yourself up into an ecstatic frenzy is NOT the point of mystical prayer. The goal is quite the opposite. 

The goal of mystical spirituality is to become someone who can anchor a grounded divine presence into the nitty-gritty of this messy human life.

I will say that again because it’s critical: The goal of mystical spirituality is to become someone who can anchor a grounded divine presence into the nitty-gritty of this messy human life.

Authentic mystical prayer leaves you feeling profoundly connected to the here and now. I recommend you keep this in mind as you learn to unlock these Mystical Laws in your life because Mysticism can be so astonishing that it’s disorienting. The goal isn’t to float off into the abyss or get distracted by otherworldly phenomena! The goal is to bring a sense of purpose, clarity and love into the daily details of life. If you keep this in mind, you’re more likely to stay humble and true to your path.

Mystical Prayer is difficult to articulate because every experience is unique and everyone experiences it differently. And though Catholicism has a rich mystical and theological tradition, you’ll rarely if ever hear it spoken of in an organised religious setting. I mean, can you even imagine a priest opening the Sunday Sermon with a lesson about how to work through a Dark Night of The Soul? If they did, churches would be full because so many people are craving this type of spiritual instruction.

Religion tends to lead with doctrine, rules, and stories of a Personified God. The intention is to help you live a moral life, and many people do find this kind of guidance enriching—But, if you yearn for a deeper understanding of the Fabric of Reality and you want actionable steps on how to unlock the wisdom of the ages and apply it in your everyday life, then I’ll bet you find doctrinal explanations too simplistic or even irrelevant to your personal development. 

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus

There are so many ways to interpret what Jesus means in this passage, but one way I like to think about this is that children have an insatiable curiosity about the world around them. They naturally possess an infinite hunger for knowledge—which is both innocent and also wise. Children are constantly wrestling with questions—big, profound, existential questions like—Why do people have to die? Are mistakes always bad? Can you be happy and sad at the same time? …. So, it makes me wonder when Jesus says. “become like little children and you will enter the kingdom of heaven”— make me wonder: what would you be like if you had the same curiosity that you had when you were a child. What questions do YOU have about morality, meaning, and the nature of being alive. 

When we become adults, we’re discouraged from asking the Big Questions—they’re too big!—they’re unanswerable—what’s the point?… As we grow older, our natural curiosity and sense of wonder is dulled by the everyday routines and obligations of adulthood. A technicolour universe becomes black and white… But that explorative, childlike spirit who lives within you is still wondering about the nature of reality—and this is why we have the Study of Metaphysics and the practice of Mystical Spirituality. 

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality. It answers questions like:

  • Why is there something instead of nothing?
  • What is consciousness?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Is change really possible?
  • What is time?
  • Am I just a bundle of experiences?
  • Is there a soul?
  • Does my life matter?

So today, in this spirit of metaphysics, let’s dissect the mechanics of a mystical experience—HOW does it happen? Is it even possible to conceptualise The Supernatural or is The Divine Mind beyond our human capabilities to understand… Regardless of your own beliefs about God, if you’ve ever tasted Ultimate Reality, even for a single moment, your worldview is transformed and your childlike curiosity reawakens.

“At the centre of Mystical Prayer is the Holy Spirit, who is a raging fire of glowing Love”.

St Bonaventure

So Bonaventure is saying that The Holy Spirit is the essential nucleus of the spiritual path. If you don’t have a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, then you are merely going through the motions of religion. It means nothing. Because the Holy Spirit is LOVE—Religion without Love is empty, even if you’re practising all the correct moral conduct. 

If you’re doing the “right thing”, but you’re lacking the heartfelt presence of The Holy Spirit, you’re missing substance. It has to be inspired to be genuine. If you’re doing the right thing out of fear or guilt, or because you think you “should”, then you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Authentic ethical conduct has to come from within you. It’s impossible to be genuinely compassionate without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

So let’s talk “Metaphysics”—The weirdest, most confusing doctrine in Catholicism by far—is the Trinity. It’s Christendom’s best-kept secret… Ask most Catholics: “Who is the Holy Spirit?”—and they will give you some version of this answer. They’ll say: “The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of The Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is three people, but also One Person”…. 

Honestly, this is the kind of answer that drives me bonkers because it doesn’t make sense unless you have a theology background. Let’s be real: What does it mean that God is Three People and also One Person? I’m so excited for this conversation today because at the end, not only will you have a metaphysical understanding of The Trinity and The Holy Spirit, but you will also know why these are core concepts in mystical spirituality. 

There’s a story in the Bible, in a book called: Acts of the Apostles where Paul travels to Ephesus in Greece. Paul was one of the closest followers of the teachings of Jesus in the early days. We can relate to Paul because he never met Jesus in real life. Shortly after Jesus died, Paul had a mystical experience where he met the Risen Christ and it totally changed him. Anyway, one day Paul encounters a group of fellow Christians who have only recently been baptised. Paul asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you were baptised?” They had no idea what he was talking about. So you see, people have been confused about the Holy Spirit for 2,000 years. Don’t feel bad if you’re one of them. 

The Holy Spirit and its place within The Trinity is a story that Christians tell themselves about the nature of Love. Triads aren’t unique to Christianity. Primordial triangles also appear in other world religions. For example, in Hinduism we have Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are: The Creator, The Sustenance and The Destroyer. The triad even appears in earth-based-spiritual-traditions such as Celtic Shamanism, where we have The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone, who represent the different stages of birth, life, and death. So, in Hinduism and Celtic Shamanism, the triads show that everything appears to be separate, but is actually One. Furthermore, these triads show that the things in this world are perpetually created and then mysteriously reconciled back to where they came from.

The triad in Catholic mysticism is Father, Son and Holy Spirit—now the gendered-terminology can be a distraction because God is not a Man. God is not a Woman either. God doesn’t have a gender because God isn’t a human. It’s the Source of all things. If you think of God as Origin, it can help you conceptualise the Godhead beyond humanness. 

Look around you. Everywhere you look you’ll find the capacity for life to reproduce. At every level of existence there’s a pattern of repetition, communication, “image-making”. This is true from the microscopic level of cell division to the macroscopic level of galaxies being born. Everywhere you look, big or small, Life is constantly producing patterns and images of Itself. The Creative Impulse that makes these things happen—is God. 

God is The Creative Life Force that makes every moment. The Origin is the reason for things existing in time. It’s the Cause of everything in this physical world, including you and me. The tangible reality you see around you —you, me, snails, the ocean, the changing season, elephants, trees, everything—exists as a spilling over of God’s Creative energy.

But, Creation wasn’t the First Thing that God made.  Scripture says, “In the beginning was The Word and The Word was with God and The Word was God”. When Beingness becomes conscious of Itself, it “sees” itself, in other words, it generates an image of Itself and becomes self-aware. The image is Consciousness Itself, or “The Word”, or “Logos” in Greek. This image is a perfect copy of God and permeates the universe and infuses it with order. It bonds all things that exist in time back to their Origin. 

So, we have these two spiritual entities: We have Beingness (that is, God The Origin, or Father), and you have Consciousness (that is, The Son, or The Word/ The Logos). These entities are really just names for conditions of existence. Beingness and Consciousness. When Beingness becomes aware of Itself, Consciousness is born, and they look at one another and they’re in awe. Instantly and naturally, the two of them fall in Love. Beingness loves Its image, naturally.

You can even feel this in your own life. When you pause in your day to close your eyes and take a breath and notice your existence, that’s the Beingness in you becoming Conscious of Itself—When you do this, you’ll notice a naturally arising softness, a presence of love. 

And so, Beingness and Consciousness notice one another’s perfect and wholeness, and they sigh a breath of love for one another—and that first shared breath between them is the “Spiritus Sanctus”, The Holy Spirit.  This story of The Trinity is a metaphysical explanation for how life perpetually creates itself, becomes aware of itself, and generates Love—in a circle—Beingness, Awareness, Breath—Origin, Word, Love—Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

You can see a similarity in Jewish Mysticism. The triad on the Tree of Life is Kether, Chokmah and Binah. Kether is “Supreme Consciousness”, who gives birth to Chokmah (or, “Wisdom”), and the two gaze at one another to produce Binah, which means “Understanding”. In other words when you become conscious of wisdom, you understand, you integrate it. 

I know that this is all highly conceptualised, but The Trinity is meant to be experienced as a force of love in your life. This white-hot intensity of Divine Love between Origin and Word, between Beingness and Consciousness—spills over into your life. The story goes—that The Word (Consciousness) is sent all the way out to the limits of where the realms of Spirit and Matter meet, that’s here, to our tangible reality—for the purpose of reconciling the created world and infusing it with Love.

In the physical world, the only felt-evidence that we have for God’s existence is Love. That’s The Holy Spirit. It is the active gathering that connects us—not only to God, but also to one another, and to ourselves. Love stitches you back together and makes you whole. In Love you remember who you really are: you remember your authentic self, beyond your personality, beyond your ego. But even more than that. You remember the birthless, deathless you. This is the you before you were born, the you that is eternally hidden in God forever before the origins of the universe. This is the you that will never die because God will always know you because you’re made of the substance of eternity. This is the real you. 

This might all sound cryptic, but The Holy Spirit is meant to be understood as a force of reconciliation in your life, not as a dry, abstract idea.

What do we make of this in our own lives?

How do we ground this complex theological narrative in real time? 

We can look to the great 20th century American mystic Thomas Merton to help us see that the Holy Spirit is vividly alive and working within our souls…. As you listen, see if you can find traces of The Trinity—of beingness becoming conscious of itself, and how that leads to an explosion of reconciling Love—listen carefully. Merton says,

“The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God. But whatever is in God is really identical with God, for God’s infinite simplicity admits no division and no distinction. Therefore I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except in the Divine. Ultimately, the only way I can be myself is to become identified with the Divine in Whom is hidden the reason and the fulfilment of my existence. Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering the  Divine. If I find God, I will find myself and if I find my true self, I will find God.” 

Thomas Merton

This is so deep and profound. Merton is saying that there’s magic in the intimate realisation of your own divine nature. You realise that you are nothing without your Origin and that you are infinitely precious because you are part of your Origin. Your mission in this life is to accept how loved you are, and to receive your inheritance in full. This is how you join forces with the Holy Spirit. 

The mystics encourage us to give ourselves away completely to the love that is perpetually pouring itself out to us in every moment. In your next breath, in the pumping of your heart, in the bliss of experiencing emotion and being a human being. The essence of reciprocating that love is gratitude.

Remember Paul? After the conversation with the Christians and learning that they’ve never heard of the Holy Spirit, Paul develops a theology about it. He says that the Holy Spirit is the “internal witness”. He says,

“God joins with our spirit to bear common witness that we are children of the Divine.” 

Paul

If you can pause, sit still, and wait, you will notice silence. If you listen carefully, you can hear with the ears of your heart that there’s something in the Silence—God is there. And God is beckoning you into the inner temple of your soul. And if you can follow that invitation, you will come to a deeper place of stillness in yourself, and you will find the Internal Witness who is forever observing you and loving you compassionately, just the way you are. The mystics call this the Indwelling Spirit.

It’s only when you consciously connect with the Holy Spirit who lives within you, that you feel swept up in the love between The Origin and all of Creation. It’s almost impossible to feel a true sense of belonging in this world if you haven’t experienced some version of being aided from the Beyond, no matter what name you give to the Divine. There’s an awareness that something is loving you into being in this moment.

If you’ve ever had a spiritual transformation on any level—you’re no longer living in a dream world where you filter everything exclusively through your ego… Sure, we all have our moments, but you now have the spiritual maturity now to remind yourself to pause, become aware, and choose Love. This is the Holy Spirit in you, Origin and Word in you, gazing at one another. Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit as a permanent, strengthening force inside you. It’s an internal homing device we can depend on as a source of wisdom. It’s the calm inner authority who reminds you of your preciousness. It inspires morality. It is the Love of God. You can call upon this Indwelling Witness whenever you need help. This is Mystical Prayer. This is what the mystics do when they pray. 

As you can tell by listening to this episode, the metaphysical dynamics of The Trinity are beyond the reach of the intellect. You have to stretch your imagination and use multi-layered metaphors even to define what it means—but to truly understand, you have to listen with your soul and live into it and let the Holy Spirit teach you about Itself.

“To understand the world, knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heat of existence in the very heart of reality.”

Teilhard de Chardin

It’s an honour to be with you today. You have no idea how much it means to me to connect with you on this level: soul-to-soul.

In closing, I’d like to share a prayer with you, by Thomas Merton. But before I do, can you please do me a favour? Please write me a review on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify. Holy Rebels is a new podcast so your reviews make a huge difference getting this podcast out in front of more people like you who are interested in mystical spirituality. Plus, I read each review and I absolutely love hearing what you think. It means so much to me!

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.”

Thomas Merton

My friend, thank you so much for listening. I’ll see you next time on the Holy Rebels Podcast.

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