Saturday, September 16, 2006

Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Revelation

Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners are so named because they respond to learning in different ways. Visual learners are responsive to stimuli they can see. Auditory learners do well in traditional classrooms because they learn by hearing. Kinesthetic learners grasp concepts better when they can feel and handle models of the material being taught. I believe that revelation is given to people in a similar way, according to how the individual can best process the information.

Lehi’s vision was given to him in images. When he described the vision to his family, he told them all the things he saw. “I saw in my dream a dark and dreary wilderness,” he states. “I saw a man…I beheld a large and spacious field…I beheld a tree…I beheld that the fruit thereof was white...I cast my eyes round about…I beheld a river of water…I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi…I cast mine eyes toward the head of the river, that perhaps I might see [Laman and Lemuel]…I saw them, but they would not come unto me…I beheld a rod of iron…I also beheld a straight and narrow path…I saw numberless concourses of people…I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building…” Because of the things which Lehi saw, he made conclusions about what the Lord wanted to communicate to him. Lehi began to fear for Laman and Lemuel. He preached to them and exhorted them to keep the commandments of the Lord. This dream was given to Lehi in a visual manner. Other visual revelations recorded in scripture include Moses’ vision and Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead.

Enos had an experience with God that was no less immediate than that of Lehi. His revelation, however, came in an auditory form. Enos carried on a conversation with his Maker. “I did raise my voice high that it reached the heavens…there came a voice unto me…and I said, Lord, how is it done…and he said unto me, because of thy faith…when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire…I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them…the voice of the Lord came into my mind…after I, Enos, had heard these words…I prayed unto him with many long strugglings…after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me…I did cry unto God…and the Lord said unto me…” Because of the things which he heard, Enos went about among the people prophesying and testifying. His auditory experience with the Lord had a great effect upon him. Other auditory forms of revelation in the scriptures include Samuel’s call and instructions to Elijah.

Alma’s revelation came in a kinesthetic form. As he went about with the sons of Mosiah persecuting the people of the Church, an angel appeared to them and spoke, saying, “seek no more to destroy the Church of God.” Immediately Alma fell to the earth. Although he had seen (visual) and heard (auditory) the angel, the revelation came to Alma kinesthetically. For three days and nights he could not open his mouth. He states that the angel spake more things, which were heard by his brethren, but he could not hear them. “I was struck…I fell to the earth…I did hear no more…I was racked with eternal torment…my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins…I was tormented with the pains of hell…for three days and three nighs was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul…I could remember my pains no more…oh, what joy and what marvelous light…my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain…my limbs did receive their strength…I stood upon my feet and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.” Alma’s experience, which came kinesthetically, had such an effect as to completely change the course of his life. Other examples of kinesthetic revelation are the shocking of Laman and Lemuel and the lightening of the burdens of Alma and his people.

Often a revelation will employ two or even all three of these methods in order to bring the word of the Lord to the listener. In Joseph Smith’s vision, he felt the power of the adversary, saw God and Jesus Christ, and heard their voices.

In cases when I feel that I have received revelation, it has come to me in a rather auditory form. I compare it to what Joseph Smith described as “sudden strokes of ideas,” which I recognize as pure intelligence. These ideas come as words, and I am often able to write down exactly what is being communicated. My husband, on the other hand, experiences revelation very visually. It is usually in the form of dreams, in which he sees images that he recognizes as having symbolic meaning. Many members of the Church have felt kinesthetic revelation in the form of “a burning in the bosom,” or a warm, peaceful feeling.

Do you experience revelation in any of these three forms? Does it come in one way more often than others? Do you feel that the revelation is being sent to you in the manner in which you are best able to receive and learn from it?


Lucy said...

Thank-you for the post. I am a auditory learner and have found that the majority of spiritual experiences for me have been auditory. Though, your post brought back memories of a very powerful visual revelation I once had.
Sadly to say, the past several years have left me spiritual depleted, and I have missed the auditory experiences I once frequently had.

Ardis said...

Wow. I'm familiar with these three types of engaging the world, and sometimes when I'm having difficulty reaching an understanding with somebody I'll say, "I know this is a weird question, but what did you have for dinner last night?" Then in the second or two it takes them to think about it, I watch to see (see, I'm a visual woman!) whether they look up to see the memory, or tilt the head to hear it, or grasp with a hand to feel it. Then I have a clue as to their style, and I can reframe my arguments to suit that style.

But as much as I use this technique for teaching and communicating, I had *never* thought of it in connection with receiving revelation. You've given me an exciting idea to explore, Bored, illustrated (there's my visual thing again) by useful examples. Thank you!

Stephen M (Ethesis) said...

Nicely done.

Anonymous said...

I believe I've experienced instances of all three types.

And to expound on your point, there seem to be several dimensions other than just type.

Clarity and completeness can also vary. Sometimes explicit instructions are given, and sometimes they are vague enough that I have to do some homework to figure them out.

Intensity or urgency can also vary. Sometimes the Spirit can really "crank up the volume" either due to urgency, or due to the fact that I let degrees of unrighteousness cloud the channel of communication, and "wattage" is needed to break through the static. When extra wattage is used in the Spirit's signal, it's rather uncomfortable on my end, and my relative unworthiness is sort of rubbed in my face.

I sometimes categorize 4 levels of intensity of spiritual promptings/revelation:

Level 1 = I "think" this is a prompting.

Level 2 = This sure feels like a prompting because it's in familiar territory. But it's not past the point of obviousness, it's still in "faith" territory. I "strongly believe" but I don't "know."

Level 3 = Just beyond the point of obviousness. It's not a mere prompting anymore. It's not faith, it's a commandment. At this point I can say "I know."

Level 4 = A painfully obvious command of the Spirit. "Constrained" as Nephi put it.

The lower the intensity, the more faith is needed to heed it, and the greater the blessing/reward for "obedience by faith", but lesser consequences follow for failure to obey.

The higher the intensity, the less faith is needed, therefore the blessing (which comes as a reward of faith) is less, but the consequences of disobedience are greater because "you know better."

So it's a tradeoff. And it's used as a growing process.

After you have enough Level 2 promptings/revelations, and your confidence in "family territory" increases, your "threshhold of obviousness" then gets lower. What was a level 2, now "feels" like a level 3 (obvious) because your sensitivity has increased.

As your "threshhold of obviousness" gets lower, then you have the ability to do more and be a stonger and more able instrument in the hand of the Lord.

Kaimi said...

Nice thoughts, BiV. And it's nice to see you posting again. I'd hate to think that you found something more exciting to do in Vernal than blogging. :P

Bored in Vernal said...

What a great addition to this post. Thank you for your insights--I loved the 4 levels of Promptings!

No worries, Vernal is Vernal. But I'm rather susceptible to dropping into the dark hole of despair. Here's to peeking out again!

Connor Boyack said...

I was in Vernal for Labor Day and I can tell why you're bored... :)

I liked this post a lot - it's great to see more examples of how God "speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding" (2 Ne. 31:3).

Bored in Vernal said...

Connor! Great pic.

Seraphine said...

Thanks for this post. I love thinking about pedagogy and learning, and it's interesting to think about revelation in those terms (I never have before).

Zerin Hood said...

Interesting post. Also funny, I was having thoughts similar to anonymous' levels of promptings just about an hour ago.

I especially like the dinner question.