(Posted on: May 7, 2013 by David McMillin)
(NOTE: While working on the “Oneness” lesson, a member of the e-group sought help with the exercise dealing with dualism (“Transcending Dualism”). She had searched through the original “A Search For God” chapter on Oneness and also Mark Thurston’s excellent supplementary resource (Experiments in a Search For God). Here is my reply, which provides some background on the creation of the course content while emphasizing the underlying theme of Oneness that is the foundation of the project. – Dave)
You probably didn't find much help with this exercise on duality in the original "A Search For God" (ASFG) book or Mark's companion work because I have intentionally attempted to expand beyond that material in these lessons.
One of the resources that I found very helpful when I undertook this project is Kevin Todeschi's "Edgar Cayce's Twelve Lessons in Personal Spirituality." Kevin used the framework of the lessons in ASFG, but expanded upon the content by searching the entire database of the Cayce readings for each lesson. For example, the lesson on Faith included perspectives from all the readings that addressed that topic (going beyond the 262 series of readings given for the original study group that created the ASFG books.) I found Kevin's approach both refreshing and stimulating.
Similarly, as noted in the Introduction that I posted at the beginning of this class: "In creating this course, I have attempted to broaden the original "A Search For God" content to be more universal in scope and contemporary in context." For example, I have very consciously tried to incorporate ideas and concepts from other spiritual traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The emphasis on neuroscience in the lesson titled "In God's Presence" attempted to address a major theme in contemporary conversations about God. In fact, I have attempted to weave all the major traditional theological/philosophical questions and issues into the lessons in some form or other. For instance, the problem of evil and suffering seemed to fit with The Cross and Crown. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" (a classic philosophical work) seemed appropriate in a discussion of the nature of reality (and its spiritual origin) in the lesson on Faith.
You may have even noticed that the lesson titles are a bit different than the original ASFG. I have consciously avoided (as much as possible) the sexist language inherent in the fundamentalist Christian approach used in much of the Cayce readings and adopted by the Norfolk Study Group # 1 in their writings. Thus "In His Presence" became "In God's Presence." Sex: Now there's a major dualism/polarity, for sure.
Christianity is still the dominant model used, which is consistent with the entire body of the Cayce readings. Overall, the intent has been to build bridges and find common ground with others in the Search for God in the world today. You could probably say the entire project is just one big lesson in Oneness.
As I put these lessons together, my constant prayer was that the material would be helpful in some way for everyone who encountered it and would not be harmful in any way to anyone. This continues to be my daily prayer as I work with this material in this e-group format. This project is an experiment/adventure – an attempt at creative service, which is my ideal.
So thanks again, for posing the question and allowing me to address these issues for the group at large. Any of you in the group, please feel free to provide feedback, reflections, or questions on the above if it pushes any buttons or rings with resonance. – Dave
[During a different session of the online ASFG e-group, a member posted some quotes from Kevin Todeschi's book Twelve Lessons in Personal Spitituality and encouraged others to check out this resource as a supplement to our studies of the ASFG lessons. Here is my reply describing the "backstory" of how the SFG material came about. – Dave)
Thanks for reminding us of Kevin's contribution. Besides being well written, I liked his overall strategy of going beyond the original 262 study group readings to examine all the Cayce readings on each lesson topic. In fact, I was so impressed by his approach, I used essentially the same method in creating these lessons – only I went beyond the Cayce readings in trying to put the Cayce information into a little broader conceptual context.
There is actually a little bit of a "backstory" here. I had done some multimedia projects (Reincarnation, Purpose in Life, etc) for Kevin several years ago (including the online meditation course featuring Charles Thomas Cayce that some of you are using in this course). Kevin gave me a copy of his "Twelve Lessons" book and said the next multimedia project would be a study group online course based on his book.
Things changed at the A.R.E. and we never got around to doing that project as he envisioned it. I continued to do my own multimedia projects and at a certain point decided it would be worthwhile to tackle the "God" project on my own. I created videos and exercises and put them on my website. My thinking was to try to make them available to regular Study Groups around the world via the web.
Then I got word that Kevin would like for me to teach an egroup course at AU on A Search For God. Synchronicity is neat, isn't it. Well at any rate, this whole project is an experiment in which you are all a part, so I really appreciate your feedback as we work with these lessons. – Blessings, Dave