Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Revelation

Bored in VernalMormon 15 Comments

Avatar-BiVVisual, 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?

Comments 15

  1. Fascinating post, BiV! Love it! I am probably a much more visual type when it comes to revelation, which is also my learning style. But I think you give great examples of alternatives. I think this is one reason that it’s so hard to accept other people’s revelations as being equally valid to our own – we don’t experience them the same way. For example, when Oliver Cowdery fails to experience through JS’s auditory style – maybe it was just not his way. It’s given me something to think about. Thanks!

  2. Is there evidence of a change in ratio between Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners over the years? I wonder if there is a relationship between the increase if visual sensory information and revelation, Has the amount of TV I’ve watched diminished my capacity to receive visual revelation ?

    I believe the type of revelation I receive most is kinesthetic, I do something and feel it is good. Service, Charity, attend church services.

  3. Although I enjoy alot of what I read on the bloggernacle there is not a great deal that opens up completely new concepts and avenues for thought in my experience. However, this is something that has really got me thinking. Its late, I have to be up early and I think I am going to find it difficult to sleep. But I am still very grateful.

  4. 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.

    For me, at least, I think that might better be called “verbal” than “auditory,” because the way I experienced it was more like feeling words than hearing them. That, along with the visual type (dreams and visions) was the primary way I experienced what I believed to be revelation (although I also had occasional kinesthetic and auditory experiences).

  5. Personally, I think there’s a fourth category and that’s articulating what you’d thought you’d already understood. When it’s necessary to communicate it either in writing or in discourse, sometimes the necessity for organization and clarity gives it an impact and resonance for the communicator that it hadn’t yet achieved.

    Maybe that would fall under the category of auditory but, for me, it’s quite a different experience.

  6. BiV that was a great post. I think I have experienced some type of revelation or inspiration via all these methods, but primary for me is probably auditory. I never forget what I have heard, and have been able to quote people long past them forgetting what they said. So I think in my personal experience, auditory is the style that would stay with me longest. Thanks for the great post, I look forward to your next post.

  7. BiV,

    One of the most important days of my adult life occurred when I had an experience that was both completely kinesthetic/physical and completely spiritual at the same time. Prior to that, I’d had no idea such a thing could occur. Changed everything.

  8. BiV,

    I enjoyed your approach to this subject. I hope the fact that there are so few comments (at least so far) won’t discourage you from posting on subject that are faith promoting.

    As I see it, controversial material, which usually is “faith reducing”, draws more attention from commentators.

    My experience with revelation (I like to call it things of the Spirit) has come in all three of the forms you’ve discussed. There is an additional manifestation of the Spirit that could fall under the heading of “revelation”–sanctification. A sanctifying experience is one that changes us by making us more “pure” (putting off the natural man/women). The Book of Mormon refers to this as a “mighty change”. Can you think of another term from academia that fits? #7 greenfrog’s comment may be referring to this kind experience.

    By the way, revelation can be increased by diligently seeking for it. I wonder how many among us have fasted and prayed on a consistent basis to receive greater access to revelation and the other gifts of the Spirit?

  9. Not to upset the apple cart, but I must offer a critique here. Not of the message of your post BiV, but rather the K-A-V learning styles.

    They don’t exist.

    Everyone learns kinesthetically, visually, and auditorally. The Learning Styles theory posits that everyone has ONE learning style that they will ALWAYS learn better in. I.e. it suggests that visual learners will ALWAYS learn better if something is taught visually. While this sounds good, it isn’t true. It depends on what is being taught.

    YES, some people are better than others at kinesthetic activities, or visual memory, etc. etc. But that is not learning style theory.

    Here’s a cognitive scientist at the U of Virginia (I think) who explains all this better than I can….

    All that being said, I would agree with your premise in the sense that one person may be better/more capable/more equipped than another at a certain form of revelation, i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic. In my personal experience, it has been more “auditory” than anything else… Even if “learning styles” don’t exist, perhaps “revelatory styles” do! 😉

  10. adamf, you almost miss the point. While everyone learns in all ways, people do have preferred sensory modes. If I’m talking to someone who is under stress and they keep saying they just can’t see what I’m talking about, and I shift to that kind of language, they will respond to me in a better fashion and calm down.

    Just fyi. Easily field tested, easily confirmed, easily taught.

  11. Good thing it was almost. 🙂

    “people do have preferred sensory modes”

    I’m interested (sincerely) in what research or evidence you have to back this up because this is one of the things that I talked about with my class this semester. Do you have anything that isn’t anecdotal? It also seems that the person under stress you are talking to who can’t understand, may have just needed something explained in one more way, for example, rather than that they will always understand better if you present the information in their “style.” People continue to believe learning style theory because it sounds correct.

    Easily field tested, easily confirmed, easily taught. And easily mistaken for truth. 😉

    I think I get the point of BiV’s post though, and I have no qualms with people receiving revelation in different forms.

    Again though, if you have anything beyond the anecdotal, I am totally interested.

  12. Adam, I watched the youtube you linked to, and I wasn’t that impressed. He does say that people have preferred methods of learning. I think this is obvious, and is especially illustrated by the online quiz on learning styles seen here. For example:

    To best learn how a computer works, you would

    a) watch a movie about it
    b) listen to someone explain it
    c) take the computer apart and try to figure it out for yourself

    I think it would be cool to take the computer apart, but if I really wanted to learn about it I think my best chance of success would be (b) to have someone explain it to me, or maybe to read about it. (giving credence to kuri and Alice’s fourth category of verbal learning).

    I don’t know if studies prove that particular ways of learning are more effective for different people. But it stands to reason if you enjoy learning things more visually, or by manipulating them physically, you are going to want to do it more and have a better chance of retaining it.

    I, too, would be interested in learning more about this subject.

  13. Thanks for the clarification, BiV. So while actual ways we ALWAYS learn better in are questionable at best, “preferences” for methods are a reality. I would also add, and I think most people agree, that we all have different abilities or talents.

  14. Thanks for posting this, BiV. This is a really interesting way of thinking about revelation that I had never considered. (Sorry I don’t have any useful personal experience to add!)

  15. I missed this previously. I love the insight.

    While I am mostly auditory, I love taking machines — including computers — apart. Therefore, I know a thing or two about them.

    My son-in-law studies education (to teach music), and he’s been talking about this learning style theory, and I understand it’s been tested fairly conclusively. They are not strictly delimited, they just express a tendency that individuals have to learn certain things in different styles; probably everybody has a bit of all of them.

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