Fether

What is a burning in the bosom?

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I remember, in my Seminary years, asking the question out loud and to myself “How do I know the spirit is talking to me?”. The leaders, teachers and my parents would often share (directly or indirectly) Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8.

7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

 

I was bombarded with this response brim I was convinced this was the only way the spirit speaks. I then started thinking of all the times I felt a “burning” in my bosom. After writing off heart burn, the only other time I felt a “burning” in my bosom was when I felt scared or nervous. Since I couldn’t think of any other feeling, I used that (not the feeling of being scared, but the little tightening of your chest when you are scated) as a sign of when the spirit was speaking. 

As you can assume... I never really had any experiences with that.

Anyway, while on my mission I became more acquainted with how the spirit speaks to me and I feel like I have a good grasp on a few ways he communicates. However, I did drop the whole “burning” in the bosom thing. I dropped it to the point where when people would use it to describe the spirit I, in some way or another, said to myself “they obviously have never felt the spirit”.

Now when thinking back on my life this morning, I was reminded of times, particularly in business and family planning, I would get this feel of peace followed by a subtle excitement to move in a direction I feel like God want us to go in. It happened when we planned to have our first 2 kids, moving to Vegas and then back to Utah for work, and subsequent smaller business decisions. All of which have turned out very well.

Could the “burning”, rather than being a physical sensation, be referring to a yearning, drive, or burning desire to do a particular thing?

Perhaps this is old news... I was just never taught about it

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I have felt the burning in the bosom, but it is a hard thing to describe.  It DOES feel like a burning in the bosom, but NOT Heartburn.

It doesn't feel like fear or nervousness either.

The scriptures are the most accurate description of the spirit, and if you can feel it in the way the scriptures describe it, eventually you can also feel the burning in your bosom.

The spirit itself is not chills, or tingles down the spine (like I have heard so many describe it), or goosebumps or other things that are not described about it in the scriptures.  It is literally a feeling of peace and comfort.  That's the best description I have of it.  When someone reads the Book of Mormon, or is in Sacrament meeting they normally can feel it.   Some mistake it for boredom, but if they try to separate how they feel different in these circumstances from their normal lives in the world they can recognize that there is a feeling of peace and comfort that is distinctly DIFFERENT than how they feel this way at other times.

Then, by cultivating the ability to recognize this feeling one can grow to be able to identify it far more often.  AS the ability to identify it grows, the feeling of the spirit can also grow more powerful.  When it is very strong, the best way I can describe it is a burning, but not an uncomfortable one.  It is right at around the heart, but it is like a warm comfort...like a stronger sensation of peace and comfort. 

I suppose a good way to think of it is if you loved your parents or family and you think of them, but without the longing or missing them, but with love.  That's another way to describe it is the feeling of love, and when you feel it you feel a stronger feeling of love for those around you and the Lord himself.  It is not romantic love, but a love so strong that it burns within you.

In this, it FEELS like a physical sensation to me (just like the spirit does, both are peaceful and comforting, but to varied levels of it) but one that is hard to describe.  It is probably easier to identify to someone when it is there and people are feeling it then to describe it.  The scriptures though, I find, describe it FAR more accurately than most people have, and are the best description.  The burning in the bosom literally feels like that, but not like a painful fire that consumes, but as a warmth that brings love and thankfulness.

I suppose one could compare it to drive or a yearning, but the spirit's feeling and the intensity that it brings when you feel it does not have any drive or yearning to it.  It's more of a feeling of comfort, peace, love, and thankfulness than anything else.  At least in my experience.  At times, when it is particularly strong, if you ARE seeking an answer, you can even hear a literal voice talking to you.  I find that is far more rare among people, but there is actually a voice I have heard that also can accompany a burning in the bosom as well. 

Not that this really helps understand it, but the best way I know of for someone to identify what the Holy Ghost truly feels like is to read the Book of Mormon and analyze how they feel differently when they read that and feel peace and comfort vs. when they read some book out of nostalgia or see a movie that they love or various other things that may bring them comfort from physical things, but it is far different than the peace and comfort that the Spirit brings.  That difference and recognizing it can help one be able to focus on growing the spirit and recognizing it as well as growing one's sensitivity to it.

In my experience.

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13 minutes ago, Fether said:

I remember, in my Seminary years, asking the question out loud and to myself “How do I know the spirit is talking to me?”. The leaders, teachers and my parents would often share (directly or indirectly) Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8.

7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

 

I was bombarded with this response brim I was convinced this was the only way the spirit speaks. I then started thinking of all the times I felt a “burning” in my bosom. After writing off heart burn, the only other time I felt a “burning” in my bosom was when I felt scared or nervous. Since I couldn’t think of any other feeling, I used that (not the feeling of being scared, but the little tightening of your chest when you are scated) as a sign of when the spirit was speaking. 

As you can assume... I never really had any experiences with that.

Anyway, while on my mission I became more acquainted with how the spirit speaks to me and I feel like I have a good grasp on a few ways he communicates. However, I did drop the whole “burning” in the bosom thing. I dropped it to the point where when people would use it to describe the spirit I, in some way or another, said to myself “they obviously have never felt the spirit”.

Now when thinking back on my life this morning, I was reminded of times, particularly in business and family planning, I would get this feel of peace followed by a subtle excitement to move in a direction I feel like God want us to go in. It happened when we planned to have our first 2 kids, moving to Vegas and then back to Utah for work, and subsequent smaller business decisions. All of which have turned out very well.

Could the “burning”, rather than being a physical sensation, be referring to a yearning, drive, or burning desire to do a particular thing?

Perhaps this is old news... I was just never taught about it

This instruction was given to Oliver Cowdery, and that is how he personally "felt the Spirit." I think the general message, and why it is canonized, is that God knows each of us personally and how we individually "feel the Spirit."

I must be like Oliver in that when I prayed to know the Church and Book of Mormon are true, I received a distinct burning in the bosom, and I knew it was God speaking to me. To make a long story short, I was not taught by missionaries or anyone else (all I was going by were the Testimony of Joseph Smith pamphlet and Book of Mormon, which I read independently of any Church member contact) and so had no idea how prayers like this were answered. It wasn't even a technically correct prayer. At any rate, a couple of years later, having gotten my hands on a D&C, I found this verse which confirmed what I already knew was an answer from God.

Our thoughts and feelings have a physical / temporal basis, a brain housed in a body with all that entails and we know about from many branches of science. The burning in the bosom is a physical and emotional reaction to or manifestation of a spiritual experience. I think "burning"  can also have a figurative meaning, such as a confirming thought being "burned" into our mind.

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I've actually learned that the "burning in the bosom" is downstream of the real feeling of the Spirit.  It is not really dependable to the uninitiated because that same feeling (or at least a very similar one) can be simulated through other causes such as excitement, desire, etc.)

The way you can recognize the difference is by experience.  For instance I hope you remember my bread analogy.

First step:  Truly learn to listen to our conscience.  We know what that feels like.  We know that confidence, that peace, that strength that comes from doing what is right when it is clearly right or wrong (good and evil).  This takes experience to really understand that feeling.  But that's the way life is.

Second step: Remember that our conscience only deals with good/evil sort of things.  The Spirit will extend that feeling to areas where it may not be a matter of good and evil.  Should I take this job or not?  It may require gathering proper information, weighing options, considering pros/cons, etc.  IOW, we need to "study it out in our minds" first. Then ask God if it is right.

As we do these things, we will LEARN what the Spirit feels like over the course of much experience.  But we cannot gain that experience if we never spend time listening to our conscience first, and then exercise the study and prayer over many questions in our lives.

It is after all this that we can learn to distinguish between the warm, peaceful, enduring, and empowering burning in the bosom due to the Spirit vs. the wild, almost chaotic, short term, and sometimes enervating burning in the bosom due to human emotion.

Edited by Carborendum

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Remember that Sections 8 and 9 were given by the Lord to Oliver Cowdery regarding the translation of scripture (the Book of Mormon). I do not know that this was intended by the Lord to be a general instruction manual on receiving revelation through the word of God, though obviously it has been used as such for a century or more. The whole burning bosom/stupor of thought dichotomy was to prevent the translator (which is what Oliver wanted to be) from giving a bad translation. Doubtless this applies to other types of revelation, but the application of the burning bosom/stupor of thought method to other things isn't immediately apparent in all situations. Regardless, some (much) revelation received doesn't follow this pattern exactly.

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42 minutes ago, Vort said:

Remember that Sections 8 and 9 were given by the Lord to Oliver Cowdery regarding the translation of scripture (the Book of Mormon). I do not know that this was intended by the Lord to be a general instruction manual on receiving revelation through the word of God, though obviously it has been used as such for a century or more. The whole burning bosom/stupor of thought dichotomy was to prevent the translator (which is what Oliver wanted to be) from giving a bad translation. Doubtless this applies to other types of revelation, but the application of the burning bosom/stupor of thought method to other things isn't immediately apparent in all situations. Regardless, some (much) revelation received doesn't follow this pattern exactly.

That's a worthy thought.  I know that since I have such a short attention span

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I'm a big fan of "how do YOU feel the Spirit?  Because it's different for everyone."  For me, it's a feeling of peace & stillness (think Jesus on the stormy seas).  Other people I know do feel a fire in their chest.  Others feel it other ways. And they are all valid-- what matter is YOU learning to communicate with your Father.

Maybe Oliver Cowdery was one of those fire-in-chest people.  I don't know.  I'm not one of them.  To me, that equates to heartburn.  And I don't teach "feeling the Spirit" = "literal burning sensation in your chest for that reason" -- it gives the wrong idea.

However, if we interpret "burning in the bosom" as "a deep inward convection", that I'm a fan of.  The Spirit does convict a person to action, and does so deeply.

Edited by Jane_Doe

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D&C 6 also has God pointing out that He speaks to Oliver through enlightening the mind, peace, and memories of previous spiritual experiences. I think when it comes to the Spirit there's a reason why "differences of administration" is a gift.

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23 hours ago, Vort said:

Remember that Sections 8 and 9 were given by the Lord to Oliver Cowdery regarding the translation of scripture (the Book of Mormon). I do not know that this was intended by the Lord to be a general instruction manual on receiving revelation through the word of God, though obviously it has been used as such for a century or more. The whole burning bosom/stupor of thought dichotomy was to prevent the translator (which is what Oliver wanted to be) from giving a bad translation. Doubtless this applies to other types of revelation, but the application of the burning bosom/stupor of thought method to other things isn't immediately apparent in all situations. Regardless, some (much) revelation received doesn't follow this pattern exactly.

Yes, it was at first a personal revelation from Joseph to Oliver. Once it was included in the canon, some may have focused on this as "the" key means, even though many other revelations and scriptures refer to many other means by which the Spirit communicates with our spirits which are connected with element / the flesh. There is no way for an embodied spirit to receive the Spirit except in concert with his body -- even if only a spark of a neuron in the brain -- otherwise, he would be dead!

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I have pondered this thread and wondered if I should respond and if I did respond how and to what depth.  So I offer, in part a journey.  Many years ago, while serving as a missionary in the Seattle are I was reading and pondering a particular scripture during my studies and reading of the scripture.  A particular scripture made no sense to me - I could not understand what I thought the scripture was saying could in reality possibly be true or accurate.  I took this enigma to the L-rd but I could not get any response.  I was determined to resolve this issue.  I studied all I could find in the matter and consulted almost anyone that would listen.  This continued for a number of years without and answer nor did I find anyone that could address the issue.  Eventually my questions and efforts began to fade and it became somewhat of a forgotten question.

More years passed and my profession had taken me back to the Settle are where I was living with my family.  The Seattle temple was being dedicated and I had the honor and privilege to sing in the dedication choir and be seated in the Celestial room for the dedication.  While we were singing a special rendition of "Oh My Father" (a hymn that has special spiritual significances to me) I was over come by the spirit and was unable to sing.  While in the moment I heard the sound of a wind and it seemed as though the ceiling became transparent and I looked into eternity and heard a heavenly choir singing with us.  All things became clear to me as I was flooded with knowledge and understanding truth.  At that moment a very clear thought sounded in my entire being and I softly understood that this was the answer to my prayers and searching that was begun as a missionary. 

Seldom do I attempt to speak or reference this experience because all my efforts are greatly inadequate.   For me such experience is most rare.  I have felt the witness of the spirit testifying of the truthfulness of things both spiritual and empirical which is both similar and very different.  For me the burning in my core is not like a burning that comes from fear but rather more a sense of joy and knowledge of light and truth.  I believe it can come in degrees according to our spiritual connections but I do not believe it can be experienced, explained or understood without a repentant and contrite heart.

 

The Traveler

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A topic on this discussion for me immediately raises as yet unresolved questions about the relationship between the spirit and the body and how a spiritual experience can be felt/experienced as a physical sensation. The physiology of the process is intriguing and I like to think that because the process involves some sort of physical experiencesome aspects of how the Spirit works might be open to scientific exploration. 

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1 hour ago, askandanswer said:

A topic on this discussion for me immediately raises as yet unresolved questions about the relationship between the spirit and the body and how a spiritual experience can be felt/experienced as a physical sensation. The physiology of the process is intriguing and I like to think that because the process involves some sort of physical experiencesome aspects of how the Spirit works might be open to scientific exploration. 

You've heard of "dark matter"?  The Spirit is "Light Matter". :) 

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What is a burning in the bosom?

When a person has described the burning the in bosom it has always been the same each time I have heard. The individual may use different words but the essence is the same. It is an overwhelming feeling of peace, originating within the heart. My father, when he joined the Church, described the same feeling of peace with an additional description of pure love for anyone and everyone. The burning in the bosom removes all guess work, it is undeniable.

I have never felt this burning in the bosom, but would like to at some point have this additional edifying witness. Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3 describes the witness I have with the Spirit. Joseph Smith's quote regarding "pure intelligence" flowing through the mind and heart describe the Spirit in my life.

After my mission I read an article from a general authority Seventy. I really appreciated his article because his experience -- witness -- closely related to mine. He mentioned how he had never felt the burning in the bosom. One day he felt like he needed to have a heart felt talk with his Father in heaven regarding this witness. This witness he desired to have. As he prayed, he decided to do something he never thought of before. At the end of completing the task, he knelt down again, and prayed that Heavenly Father would grant him his plea. The plea was answered, and he received the burning in the bosom.

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There is a difference between getting a good night's sleep and drinking some Mt. Dew.

Both make you feel awake and alert which seem to be good things.  But one is the healthy way and the other has a cost.

More importantly, and germane to the topic, is that the feeling one gets from the healthy way is a more enduring and "happy" feeling than the feeling we get from caffeine.

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