When you have completed Module 8 you will be able to recognize a spiritual experience, and the impact that experience had on the life of your mentee. You
will be able to describe criteria, taken from a variety of sources, for evaluating the validity and meaningfulness of spiritual experiences, principally on the
basis of how the mentee responds to it, and applies it meaningfully in their life.
For the large part of sessions, the mentee brings their progress in agreed upon spiritual goals, or spiritual questions that have arisen, or even new situations
in which they want to integrate these spiritually. Spiritual mentors meet people where they are, as they are, and journey with them through different points in
their lives. Often this journey draws many mentees to seeking a mentor as a result of having had a pivotal spiritual experience. When a mentee brings a
powerful spiritual experience, you must be prepared.
It may be helpful to say a few words regarding how to recognize this type of experience. It is easy to be confused over what is a profound spiritual
experience. It is however important for you to be able to recognize one in order to be able to help another notice one for themselves. The word profound may
lead one to believe that the experience needs to be dramatic and accompanied by visions and voices. Although, this can be the case, and it is often the ones
we remember, it is often not routine. A profound spiritual experience is anything that connects you to your soul. It allows you to bring something that is
normally inaccessible to you accessible so that you can put your arms around it and make it tangible. It is experienced as an invitation to go deeper into
reflection. When it is released it makes you feel truly alive. It often draws you or calls you to something more. The experience upon reflection is heartfelt and
The ability to notice is an important skill to pass onto your mentee in order to help them recognize a more subtle type of spiritual experience. You can begin
to notice through mindfulness. Another wonderful activity is to notice how the body feels and how it speaks to the mentee. Remind the mentee to ask
throughout the day – What is my body saying? What am I feeling? What is rising up? What is bubbling up? What is annoying? The poem The Guest House by
Rumi is often useful to reflect upon as ways to notice and name what is happening inside yourself.
The soul also often speaks through its own language of symbol. Symbols are used as a method of communication with the soul. An experience can begin
through a message or symbol found in a dream. It can begin as a puzzlement, a curiosity, a nudging. All these, upon reflection can be or lead to a spiritual
experience. Many find these through poetry, paradoxes, parable and metaphor. There is rarely an easy way to explain these, so we are forced to sit and reflect
on them. It is then, in this silence, that the soul can reveal itself.
For this assignment, arriving at a clear sense of your own personal criteria to determine a spiritual experience will be the primary objective. For only on the
basis of the standards by which we evaluate our own experiences can we authentically and sensitively receive the sacred burden of a mentee’s spiritual
experience. To ascertain this you may want to reflect on how you would inform your own experience by reflecting on the following questions:
1) What informed you that this experience was “of God?”
2) How has it influenced your thinking and your beliefs about life?
3) How has it changed your view of your purpose in life?
4) What responses have you made to this experience?
5) What fruits, if any, have come from the action that you have taken?
6) Did you share your experience with anyone, and if so, what effects did this have?
These are also questions you can use as you companion another through an experience.
Remember, a profound spiritual experience is never condemning or judging and never uses the words should or must. If you notice any of these be aware,
they are voices are from your ego that keep you enslaved to it. They are not from the beloved soul. The soul uses invitations, not imperatives, to speak to us.
Some people object to the idea of evaluating someone else’s spiritual experiences, believing that we can easily infect the mentee with our own beliefs and
values. While I agree that we should not impose our own agendas, incumbent upon us is to assist our mentees in evaluating and understanding their
experiences. It is essential that you become adept at handling such experiences with sensitivity, respect, and discernment. Having criteria and preparation
will provide your best response. Even with this, you will be integrating all you know with the personal dimensions of your mentee’s worldview, and their
spiritual life thus far. Your mentee may feel called to make major changes in his or her life, and you must guide them through providing clarification and
delineation of spiritual experiences.
The mentee seeks someone who can help in interpreting the source and the meaning of the experience. The question “Was it “really” of God or Spirit?” will
remain foremost in the minds of many those mentees who may initially distrust such experiences. And so, helping the mentee apply a reliable set of
discernment criteria will comprise an important part of your work. Once an experience is accepted as an authentic utterance of the deeper Self, other
questions will follow. Does it, for instance, call the mentee to change the direction of his or her career, primary relationship, spiritual practices, or spiritual
beliefs? Clearly, how you treat these sacred experiences is a paramount issue in your role as a mentor.
To be noted, you may encounter a person who comes with a strong experience or is part of a fragmenting mental/emotional health. Such experiences and
people are not within your scope of mentoring. You must have pre-planning of how you will handle this. In Week 11, you will learn more about recognizing and
referring those with serious mental/emotional problems.
Chapter Two in Spiritual Direction: A Practical Introduction (pay particular attention to pgs 66-85).
The article Dreams as a Path of Initiation by Dr. Scott Sparrow which is attached to this module.- see this link for the article:
Chapter Four (pgs 30-47) in Spiritual Direction 101
you can find these books by going to my account on scribd
Login info in the files section.
WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO FOR INSIGHTS INTO THE INFO YOU NEED TO ANSWER THE QUESTION BELOW:
When considering your post this week, please recall the video -link is above on you tube-when Dr. Sparrow focuses on Dr. Thurston’s responses in the course
of his dream as the most important aspect of the experience. Similarly, his article on Dreams as a Path of Initiation makes the case that the dreamer’s
response is the most important determinant of our progress. -link is above
In light of these positions please make sure your post addresses how a person’s response matters in contrast to the content of the experience. Also
incorporate how you will help the mentee evaluate the source of the experience. Be sure you indicate how you will evaluate the validity of a mentee’s spiritual
experience. You can post questions you might use when working with a mentee to determine this such as “Where is Spirit in this?” “How did you respond to
Spirit on the basis of this experience?
On the basis of your reading, viewing and listening assignments post a response of a minimum 600 words up to 800 words
How you will evaluate the validity of a mentee’s spiritual experiences?