"How does one tell the difference between hearing Jesus and hearing the Holy Spirit. Are they two separate entities?… In truth I guess they must be one but is it normal to experience them as two separate voices in this realm of form, or what has been your experience in hearing and discerning between them… thanks"
Metaphysically, God and Christ and Holy Spirit are One. Yet in some regards, they seem to be different or have different functions.
For example, Christ is the extension of God and Christ did not "Create God" as such. God Created His "Son". This is why the Son of God is referred to as such, and not as like God number 2. However, Christ shares everything that God is, with God, and is like God. God does not dream of illusions, but Christ does.
Similarly with Holy Spirit, He is the Answer to the separation. This doesn't mean like, "he has the answers". It means He IS the answer. Experientially. He is the part of the mind which remembers God. He is described as being fixated on God, while still perceiving our illusions (and not believing them). His function is also described as the "mechanism of miracles", which contrasts for example to prayer which is said to be the "medium of miracles".
Holy Spirit is, or is 'in' the right mind. I was reading in the Course somewhere recently that Holy Spirit was "added" to your mind, as Christ, because God's answer to the separation was to increase the blessings that are given you. And so now you have an "Appointed Friend", Holy Help, Comforter, etc. Holy Spirit has various other functions also, not least of which being the expression of God's power that performs healing miracles.
Technically, in metaphysical terms, Holy Spirit and Christ are 'different' in some ways, or at least in their role. It is said though that Holy Spirit's role will change when the atonement of the entire Sonship is over.
Now, what some people think is that the Holy Spirit is a metaphor or a teaching aid or just a concept. That's quite convenient for the ego, because the ego sees Holy Spirit as a threat to its existence.
The Holy Spirit is nothing less than the MIND which has been extended from God's mind, sharing a Holy Identity, filled with profound intelligence, completely receptive to and perfectly expressing love. He is described as the highest possible communication medium. That is because He completely and fully receives all of God, and simultaneously fully expresses and extends that love i.e. "communicates" the truth to those who are in the illusion.
If you are partial to thinking of Christ as a 'being' then you can't go far wrong considering Holy Spirit to also be a 'being'. Effectively their minds are the same. They share the same "belief" as it were, i.e. the same acceptance of God's truth as the only truth.
A key difference perhaps is that the Holy Spirit has not ever incarnated into a body, as a part of going unconscious and believing in separation from God. He has never lost sight of the Truth about Christ, and is permanently fixated on God. He cannot forget God and remembers Him on your behalf, as well as helping you return to and share that same awareness of God's Reality.
In contrast, you could also say that Christ has always been truly Christ and has not REALLY ever separated from God either, BUT Christ also is having an illusory dream about being separate. And so it seems as though Christ or "parts of the Sonship" incarnate into bodies and go through lessons to re-awaken to God.
Now, Jesus as we speak has apparently gone beyond the Sonship and has reclaimed His True Identity as the One Son of God, i.e. Christ, also known as "Jesus Christ". That identity is everyone's shared true identity beyond separate selves. That mind, which once was Jesus "the man" and has awoken to Christ, communicates with those who are dreaming in various ways. He also continues to perform supernatural miracles, "utilizing" Holy Spirit as the mechanism.
I should also point out that, as it says in the Manual for Teachers, regarding Teachers who have awoken already, "although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so". This includes the many possible images of Jesus, and images of other masters who have ascended/resurrected. And here by image we mean, that they can show up as a body, which is just an image anyway, i.e. in some "form".
It is possible therefore for Jesus to speak to you, and it is also possible for Holy Spirit to speak to you. It is also possible for other "spirit-entities" to talk to you. If you think about it, any human being is really a spirit-entity that speaks through bodies to you. Just because you're used to it coming only from their mouths, telepathy is also perfectly possible, and would be more commonplace if people believed in separation less.
So in some ways, yes, Holy Spirit, the "Voice For God", is able to speak on God's behalf because He shares God's love and mind. And in a similar way, Christ also expresses and shares God's love and mind. It's quite hard to distinguish them in any majorly meaningful way. Or at least, I have to admit, there might be distinctions I don't yet understand.
What I will tell you though is a bit of my personal experience. Years ago I started to channel some spirit guides, which mainly was by hearing a "thought" which seemed to come from somewhere other than my own mind and my own stream of thinking. Sometimes it would interject just as I stopped my own thought, unexpectedly. My wife helped me to learn to do this. It mainly entailed getting quiet and listening and asking and being open.
As this developed I started to write down what I heard by typing it straight into the computer as it happened. This opened up over time as I developed trust and had more experiences. I started to get messages from people who had "died" i.e. were not incarnate in the physical level, including pets. I also was able to receive limited communication from angels and other sources. Still this mostly came through as thoughts or mental voices, mostly, sometimes an image or spontaneous idea.
Sometimes the guidance would come as an intuitive sense, whereby I would just turn my head and be looking at something as though my head had turned on its own, and I'd look at it for a few seconds before I even realized I was doing this. Then I'd realize I'm staring at this thing, whatever it was, and then it would register what I was exactly looking at. And whatever it was, it was some kind of way to communicate and give a message to me. It was meaningful. Also it would come sometimes in other ways like synchronicities and feelings and so on.
As my work with A Course in Miracles progressed, there started to be more emphasis on Holy Spirit. I started developing my relationship with Him. I'm not even sure how that began but it just sort of very smoothly and effortlessly unfolded. Most likely it was simply by reading of Him in the Course and beginning to reach out to try to communicate. Over time we talked more and I always, for the most part, heard Him as a voice on the left side of my head.
I never sensed properties about Him such as that He was a man or woman or anything sort of human-like, which seemed to match with the fact He had never "been" in a body. I always sensed Him more as just a presence, an intelligence, a certainty, a loving voice, a knowing clarity, etc. Almost entirely He seems, for whatever reason, to communicate with my mind on what seems to be the left side of my mind.
It wasn't until after some years really, and mostly after my first book which was kind of a way of building trust with Holy Spirit and writing it with Him, that I started to open up to Jesus more. For me, Jesus seemed a bit more remote, or minimal, or harder to reach in some way. However, He pretty much always seemed to show up or talk to me towards the right-hand side of my head.
As I hear or sense Jesus I get much more of an impression of Him as being a "man" and having some human qualities. I almost always sense him as a loving and masterful and compassionate brother. He often corrects me and clarifies that I am His brother, if I am ever putting myself down or above in any way. I also quite often feel his hand on my shoulder and sometimes we have hugged, which happens mostly on a mental and emotional level.
It seems a little harder for me to connect with His mind. And yet at times He is so "right there" already that He is usually ready and listening and aware of everything that's going on even before I ask or start to approach. Once or twice if I am really in a zone I've been able to have a more "wordy" conversation in which He will say fuller sentences. It seems to me that there is some degree of requirement that I am to come UP to where He is at in order to achieve that.
Occasionally, more recently, I seem to sometimes hear one or the other of them more toward the center of my mind, and I have no idea why, and when that happens I actually do have some difficulty distinguishing "who is who"... but it seems more like, the voice just "is", and has no discernible properties at all other than that it spoke. It perhaps is then a connection from a higher place, I can only guess. And when I say spoke I don't really mean like a regular level of human audible voice. It's usually much quieter from both of them.
Another factor of this for me is that I also can channel them, which entails them doing something to my mind to put it into an altered state of consciousness. They somehow are capable of suppressing a core aspect of my ego, like in my brain, which acts as the commentator and interferer and more of my conscious mind. They turn this down as though turning down the volume and it simply goes quiet and thoughts stop happening. Engagement or "processing" of what happens for the most part switches off, or near to.
I will then channel. And at first when I would do this it would be non-verbal, but over the years it became verbal where they would just speak through me. Initially this was with our spiritual guides then with Holy Spirit then with Jesus. It typically "required" for me to get into this altered consciousness, still aware but not engaged, "subdued" perhaps, in order for me to let them speak in this way.
Whatever they would say through me I would be aware of it, but I would not really process any of it or think about it or have any commentary running along with it. It just flowed out. And sometimes it was accompanied by a flash of imagery which seemed to express an entire concept in a split second which then started to become words.
Mostly they would speak and if I was really getting into this I would detach so much that words would still be coming out of my mouth but I would be observing it as though it really was not me producing them whatsoever. This has also happened a few times in normal life encounters where Holy Spirit may suddenly say something out of my mouth, perhaps something I was afraid to say, or something which is simply the right thing at the time.
As time passed I also began to have experiences where it didn't seem necessary to get into that state in order to more clearly channel them. That is because my conscious mind, in its purification and forgiveness, has surrendered more ego and so is less prone to interfere. Whereas it used to require something of a fanfare to get into the right mode and focus and have a lot of willingness, now it seems much less of an effort.
For example in writing of my second book which was a channeling of Jesus, it felt like quite an ordeal on all levels to pain-stakingly listen for Jesus' words and write them. And I would interfere quite a lot and He'd have to keep correcting me. It was slow going. But I felt that what He'd written was for sure coming from a much higher place.
In the writing of my third book, which is underway at the time of writing, it has progressed to being much easier and simpler. I simply sit almost assuming that Jesus is present, and most likely He might have nudged me to write by saying "write" (more than once, before I comply). And so I sit and just say, Jesus are you ready, and He's like "I am". And then He starts to communicate words and I hear them and I write.
The first few paragraphs have been coming out as near 100% dictation and then as it flows along, it seems somehow that my mind and His mind have joined somehow. And then there is more of a "flow", and it just all flows right out quite effortlessly. I might be in a slightly altered state of awareness but it is subtler than it used to be. He will correct me if I am going astray and will tell me to "surrender" if I am getting too involved. In this mode I still hear Him mainly on the right side of my mind.
I cannot tell you why exactly they seem to show up on different sides of the mind. But I can tell you that I've heard more than one other person say that they have the same experience. I have no idea what the reason is, other than as a matter of helping to identify who they are, or it may relate in some way to the structure of the mind or the ways that the hemispheres of the brain have a different focus. It really probably doesn't matter but for me personally it does help a lot to give me a sense of "which is which". For all I know this may be a totally individual thing and not the same for many others.
They appear to me to take different roles at times. Jesus is often in role of "brother" and friend and is very highly masterful, to the point where sometimes He can utter just a single word or two which DEEPLY encapsulates an entire thing that I've been doing my entire life and didn't know it. His insight is very very profound and very "big-picture" and abstract.
Sometimes this distinguishes Him from Holy Spirit who comes across sort of at my level and can be less abstract and perhaps more practical. This is also in contrast to my earlier guides who were a much more human and not as high level of consciousness and were quite good at helping us with pracitical decisions to do with everyday life. You could maybe say that they stepped aside to give way to the "higher" truth coming from Holy Spirit and Jesus, but they're still around.
I also have sensed that who He is on a higher level is not so much a body and more of a very mystical spiritual entity. Only once or twice have I seen Him in my mind's eye in that "appearance" which I really cannot in a any way describe in terms of flesh and blood - its a face but... it's made of spiritual energy or something. Like seeing the spirit directly. In that mode He is so mystically transcendental that there is no trace of any sense of body-identity or being a 'man' or a human. He seems vast and powerful, deep and intense, and very subtle. It seems I am only able to experience Him this way if *I* myself have risen up to a higher level of mind.
So what I sense is, that He and Holy Spirit both show up in ways that we an accept, ways that our current level of awareness can handle, ways that are acceptable or that we can relate to. Jesus is not a human man in a body, but He "tends" to show up this way most often, because that's what my mind interprets Him as.
I also know that for example when people have near-death experiences or trips to Heaven, Jesus seems to show up in quite a variety of variations of form and this seems to depend a lot on the person and that person's beliefs. Whatever is most appropriate, He can take on any form and appear in any way that He chooses. He could show up as a young child or as an old man. In fact I saw and sensed His presence outside my body one time as a much older man.
It is perfectly possible to hear the Voice For God, and to also hear Jesus's voice. And for that matter, it is also possible to hear the voices of any spiritual being including archangels and other ascended masters (buddha for example). And it's also possible to hear the voice of your brother, mind-to-mind, although the body blocks this quite a lot.
The Course does however say, "all are called, few choose to listen." And also, "Listen, and hear your father speak to you through his appointed voice." And also "He will answer in proportion to your willingness to hear his voice." And also remember Lesson 49 "God's voice speaks to me all through the day." And also "You are holding a grievance against him so that you might not hear the voice for God." There is also a quote I couldn't find along the lines of that if you are not hearing his voice, it is because you do not choose to listen.
So here the Course is saying that *everyone* can experience the Voice For God, but that it has to be a GENUINE an ACTUAL decision to listen to it. You can't fake that. If you really are ready and willing it will happen. But I do sense that a certain amount of surrender and willingness and removal of ego must happen first.
Just as Jesus says that miracles are everyone's right but purification is necessary first, so too you need some amount of purification of mind before you will "hear" a Voice speak to you. And that's ok. The ego has been a very loud voice that we've listened to for a long time and we need to learn to stop listening to IT so that we can discern and listen to Holy Spirit. Its voice attempts to drown out the Voice For God and if we're listening to and believing it all the time, we're less likely to be WILLING to hear God speak.
Remember also that we're told God's voice will guide us VERY SPECIFICALLY, which contrary to some people's belief, DOES mean that it is capable of guiding you about what to do in the illusory world as well. I take the Holy Spirit with me grocery shopping and having Him join with my mind helps me to simply be in a more efficient and certain and honest place, with Him sometimes chiming in about what to buy or not buy. The relationship can be very practical.
Why wouldn't He help you in any way possible? It is actually an opportunity in which you can develop more trust in Him, and He will take ANY opportunity you give Him to increase your level of trust and dependence on God. Even things which are apparently "un-spiritual" can be done with Holy Spirit, like paying taxes or doing the dishes. Why should God be absent from your mind and put on a shelf just because your ego wants to run the show?
One last point perhaps, is that the Voice For God expresses God's Voice. By which I mean, although the Holy Spirit communicates, He is a "medium", just like how I or you are a "medium" that channels His voice or Jesus's voice. He channels God, all the time. So if we're in the business of making distinctions, there really is no difference between what "He" seems to say, versus as if it were God speaking "Himself".
I battle with this sometimes because to my ego it is confusing. But sometimes I directly address "God" and the terminology that I receive tends to be in a first-person perspective as though God Himself is talking. And effectively, that is true! But the spoken "words" are coming from or through Holy Spirit, because God doesn't really communicate in that way. God's more direct way is through revelation. But you can talk directly to God and have Holy Spirit speak "as if" Him, without interfering in any way whatsoever. Holy Spirit is such a high communication medium that he COMPLETELY gets out of the way and allows God to express through Him.
You could also say, therefore, that Christ is also an expression of God. Christ doesn't have an interfering ego. Christ receives God and extends God and is, Himself, a part of that extension. So again, Christ speaks similarly as a Voice For God, and can speak on His behalf. This is because God's mind extends through both Christ and the Holy Spirit. You could say that, therefore, everything is just God, if you want to take the Oneness all the way.
But we just have to be careful with how the ego will use that idea. Many people go around saying "I am God", which is really their ego speaking, because they have an authority problem and won't admit that God created them and not the other way around. Christ didn't create his own father. The ego created his own father as the false God of vengeance.
So anyway. Whatever works for you is fine. Listen and receive. Maybe it will come to you as a voice, in a particular location of your mind, or centrally, or at a distance, or outside of you, or through other people, or through animals or signposts or whatever else works. Whatever you can accept and relate to and be communicated to via, Holy Spirit and Jesus can use it to get through to you.
One last thought. Some people say hearing voices is insanity. The truth is that it depends WHICH voice you are hearing. If you are hearing the ego's voice, that is indeed insanity. If you are hearing the Voice For God, or the voice of a Teacher who "temporarily has more", then you are hearing a voice with a sanity greater than your own. Not all voices are mental illness by any means, and most people who would accuse you of that most likely have an ego. So you know what that means.
Holy Spirit says "hello".