SFG 1 Resources – Open With Care

Open With Care

(Posted on: April 29, 2013 by David McMillin)

The A Search For God lessons are sequential and cumulative.  Each lesson builds upon previous lessons and is preparation for the lessons that follow.  So it is with the lesson on The Door.  The previous lessons set the stage for opening The Door and entering a higher state of consciousness which culminates in the following lesson, In God’s Presence

Thus, opening the door to higher consciousness is preparation for the meeting with God within the inner temple – the physical body being the temple.  There is a strong physiological aspect to this mystical state.  This is a powerful process that must be approached with sacredness and purity.  The previous lessons (and especially the information on meditation) are provided in a manner to make the process as safe and efficient as possible. 

And yet, as with any human activity on planet earth, sometimes even very competent and intelligent people do not always act sensibly or responsibly.  We forget or ignore and goof up.  Crossing a street or driving a car involves certain risks.  Choosing to eat certain foods and exercise (or not) as part of a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for the most spiritually minded seeker.  So it is with the Search For God.  Sometimes we can get off track, either by negligence or super enthusiasm, leading to imbalances of one sort or another – physically, mentally or spiritually.  This is particularly true with this and the next lesson as we open The Door and find ourselves In God’s Presence.

Since the original study group readings were given in the 1930s, western culture has gone through the 1960’s and the use of chemicals to open the door of consciousness (LSD, etc).  Sometimes individuals who have experimented with powerful psychogenic drugs (i.e., hallucinogens) find that they have flashbacks when they practice deep meditation as part of a spiritual tradition.  Or perhaps, since their body’s physiology has been primed for the experience of altered consciousness, they pick up where they have left off when they were using drugs.  This is something to keep in mind based on personal experience and history.  To be sure, many individuals have reported positive mystical experiences via chemically induced altered states of consciousenss.  The research and experiences of Huxley with the sacred rituals of indigenous peoples that was cited in the video overview is one prominent example of the use of chemicals to open The Door. But that is not the approach advocated in the Cayce readings or in the A Search For God material.

We have also seen the popularization of various exotic spiritual practices, particularly powerful yogic techniques to achieve higher consciousness (kundalini yoga, etc).  Some individuals on the spiritual path become unbalanced by intense inner focus or an almost fanatical involvement with metaphysical techniques or rituals.  You may have heard of “spiritual emergency” or “kundalini crisis.”  Such terms are usually applied to situations involving the opening of the spiritual centers in a careless, undisciplined, or accidental manner.  Edgar Cayce gave several readings that discussed this condition.  Sometimes unpleasant physical sensations and pain were involved.  Sometimes the person had psychic or psychotic experiences such as hearing voices or other potentially disturbing phenomena attributed to the opening of consciousness to the Borderland, the intermediary state between our normal consciousness and other dimensions of consciousness.  There are safe and reliable ways of achieving higher states of consciousness by opening the spiritual centers and raising the Creative energies within the body for a definite purpose. These are inherent in the lessons of this course. 

The purpose of this resource article is to serve as a reminder to stick with the program – continue to practice the previous lessons that provide a spiritual focus through attunement, applying a spiritual ideal and being grounded in service to others in the world.  Be careful of going to extremes or indulging in unusual practices or chemicals that can throw you out of balance.  In the Cayce approach to the search for God, Christ consciousness (oneness with God) is highly recommended and the example of Jesus in manifesting that ideal is encouraged.  That is the basis for opening The Door in a safe and responsible manner.  But first, let’s ponder why the door is closed in first place.

The Closed Door

The video overview for this exercise presents the concept of a closed door that can be opened to higher levels of consciousness.  Questions were raised as to possible reasons why there would be such a barrier and what would be the consequences of opening the door.

Mark Thurston, in his excellent ASFG companion book (Experiments in a Search For God) defines door as a barrier that allows passage without destroying the barrier.  He goes on to discuss the possible reasons for such a barrier (i.e., closed door):

The implication is that the barrier has a purpose and yet movement through it is at least occasionally necessary (e.g., the walls of our house serve the purpose of protection, yet movement in and out is necessary).  If we apply the symbol of the door to the nature of man, we see that there is a barrier between his finite awareness and his infinite potential.  He could not handle the eradication of the barrier.  It is for his own protection that it is there because (1) what lies behind it might be overwhelming or (2) lacking sufficient wisdom he might use those infinite powers selfishly.  A door allows a selective opening at a special point and can be re-closed whenever necessary.  (Thurston, 1976, p. 87)

If this reasoning is correct, it is clear that opening the door must be done with care and consideration for the process and outcome.  It is to be opened with a high purpose (an ideal such as Christ Consciousness) and with the right spirit (Christ Spirit).  Otherwise we can be overwhelmed by the sheer power of the experience or manifest that power in a selfish or destructive way. 

Here is an excerpt from a reading given for Edgar Cayce himself, that discusses the meaning of the closed door that must be opened with care:

The lyden, [leydig] or 'closed gland', is the keeper – as it were – of the door, that would loose and let either passion or the miracle be loosed to enable those seeking to find the Open Door, or the Way to find expression in the attributes of the imaginative forces in their manifestation in the sensory forces of a body; whether to fingertips that would write, to eyes that would see, to voice that would speak, to the whole of the system as would feel those impressions that are attuned with those the infinite by their development and association or with those inter-between, or those just passed over, or as to the unseen forces; for the world of unconsciousness is not in a material change from the physical world save as to its attributes or of its relationships with. Whether the vision has been raised or lowered depends upon that height, depth, breadth or length, it has gone for its source of supply. (294-140)

Thus opening the door within can lead to either “passion or a miracle,” or to contact with discarnate soul entities in the borderland between earthly life and sojourns in other realms.  This can manifest as a form of “possession” that we will discuss in a later section.  Note that there is an important physiological dimension to the opening of the door – the lyden (also called Leydig) is by default a “closed gland” that is the keeper (protector) of the door.  Very mysterious indeed!

The Lyden and Pineal Glands

… the lyden gland, [Leydig] which has within itself that closed door, or open door, as makes for activity through that to the base of the brain, or the PINEAL gland – as is at the base of the brain itself – which opens up for its activities and associations to those other portions of the brain … (294-141)

This is another excerpt from a reading given for Edgar Cayce to explain his psychic process.  The lyden/Leydig gland at the base of the torso and the pineal gland in the brain function as the "seat of the soul" in the human body. The lyden/Leydig can also function at the mental/spiritual level as a metaphysical symbol. The "Self Analysis" video on the Free page of my website (Rivers of Light heading) discusses how I used dream interpretation to understand what this spiritual center means in my own soul development. It might give you some ideas for how you can interpret it in your experience.

I have created another resource article that focuses on the Leydig and Pineal as the seat of soul and the closed or open door to higher consciousness.  I only call attention to this presently to emphasize the strong physical aspect to the opening of the door. In addition to providing access to the God within, activation of these glands as spiritual centers is sometimes associated with psychic and paranormal experiences that can be positive or negative depending upon the purpose of that being sought.  Or as we seen in the previous example of Edgar Cayce giving a psychic reading:

Whether the vision has been raised or lowered depends upon that height, depth, breadth or length, it has gone for its source of supply. (294-140)

The Cayce readings contain numerous other examples of individuals who have activated the lyden and pineal glands and opened the door to higher consciousness producing psychic phenomena:

For as we find this entity has more than once been among those who were gifted with what is sometimes called second sight, or the super-activity of the third eye.  Whenever there is the opening, then, of the lyden (Leydig) center and the kundaline forces from along the pineal, we find that there are visions of things to come, of things that are happening. (4087-1)

(Q)  Have I ever caught glimpses of past lives, or are these things more dreams and fancy?
(A)  The entity has caught glimpses of past lives when it has gone out of itself or has allowed the energies of the Kundaline force to pass along the centers of the body.  Beware, unless ye are well-balanced in purposes … (5399-2)

Thus the kundalini energy (sometimes spelled kundaline in the readings) associated with the opening of The Door can apparently result in past life recall or other psychic insights.  This can be a very positive experience or it can be somewhat disorienting if the person is not ready for it.

For some individuals the experience is so overwhelming so as to produce what has been called “kundalini crisis” or “spiritual emergency.”  I have studied this phenomena and provided counseling to individuals undergoing this form of aberrant awakening among new age seekers in the Virginia Beach area.  Anxiety, “psychic heat,” depression, and a wide variety of unpleasant physical symptoms are some fairly common manifestations of this syndrome.  At its extreme, hallucinations or aberrant thinking (delusions) may also be present.  Clearly this type of abnormality is something to be avoided.

Following the lessons and applying the information in this course is an excellent way to keep a healthy balance on the spiritual path and avoid such problems. I am speaking from my own personal experience with kundalini awakening associated with doing meditation following the Cayce recommendations. This can be a wonderful, spiritually uplifting experience. This is not something to be afraid of, but it does make sense to Open With Care with all due respect, considering the power of the forces involved.

Hearing Voices

… so we open the door.  Then it is that we heed the call to the Spirit within that stands ever ready to commune with us.  It does not come in the whirlwind, but as a still small voice.  (Study Group # 1, 1992, pp. 83-84)

Seekers on the spiritual path who practice meditation regularly will sometimes have mystical or paranormal experiences such as hearing a voice. As noted in the quote above that was written by the first ASFG study group, this is a normal and desirable experience, provided the voice is of a Divine Source. The Cayce readings often encouraged individuals to listen for the still small voice of God during meditation.  Prayer is talking to God.  Meditation is listening.

As with most things in life that involve humans, there is natural variability. For some individuals the voice of God is powerful. Apparently Moses had that type of interaction with the Divine while on the mountain top.

From a mainstream mental health perspective, hearing voices (when there is no one else present) is typically considered a symptom of psychosis – a form mental illness.  Schizophrenia is the best known example of this. Perhaps you have heard this old joke:

If you talk to God it's called prayer …
if God talks back it's called schizophrenia.

Edgar Cayce provided a metaphysical explanation for why people with schizophrenia hear voices:

Such, then, become possessed as of hearing voices, because of their closeness to the Borderland.  Many of these are termed deranged when they may have more of a closeness to the universal than one who may be standing nearby and commenting; yet they are awry when it comes to being normally balanced or healthy for their activity in a material world.  (281-24)

I have worked extensively with individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis (i.e., being out of touch with reality).  I have noticed just what Cayce described in this reading.  Although such individuals are clearly out of touch with reality (normal waking reality as most of us experience it), they often seem to be more in touch or have more of a closeness to the “universal” than those “standing nearby and commenting” (family members and mental health staff).  Yet they are mentally ill – severely out of balance – which is what most illness really is at its core.

In schizophrenia, there is a strong physical aspect that manifests as a brain disease. As was noted in the video overview for this lesson, in a certain respect, the brain functions like a plumbing valve that is closed (sort of like the default status of the Leydig gland). When the valve is opened, it allows access to other realms of experience to flow through, as Cayce described in reading 281-24 above. So the experience has a mystical quality even as it is a form of mental illness, when the opening of the valve is caused by a brain disease.  As was also noted in the video overview, there are other, healthy ways of opening this valve as well, including meditation.

Joseph Campbell, the noted mythologist, has observed that the schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight (in Mintz, 1983, p. 158). So experiences like hearing the voice of God can be healthy for the mystic but distorted and twisted for a person with brain disease. The Hindu mystic, Gopi Krishna, made a similar observation after going through years of kundalini crisis:

There is a close relationship between the psychotic and the mystic.  In a mystic, there is a healthy flow of prana into the brain, and in the psychotic the flow is morbid.  In fact, the mystic and the psychotic are two ends of the same process, and the ancient traditions class mad people as mad lovers of God, or something divine.  (in Kieffer, 1988, p. 110)

Keeping the brain and nervous system healthy is a reasonable precaution when doing meditation and related spiritual practices involving opening the spiritual centers and rasing the energy within. Some Cayce experts actually recommend certain specific health practices such as keeping the spine optimal through osteopathic manipulation and/or massage. You can decide for yourself whether such preventative measures are right for you, whether as an adjunct to spiritual practice or a general health strategy. Of course, take care about the chemicals you put into your body, especially those that affect the brain and nervous system.

In the Search For God, it makes sense to keep a balance – not become extreme in seeking or desiring for contact with unseen forces that are not consistent with the spiritual ideal. This advice is more relevant for some individuals on spiritual path than others. Because of patterns from past lives and planetary sojourns, some people find it very easy to communicate with nonphysical entities. Edgar Cayce was certainly such a person. And yet he kept a balance while using his psychic ability constructively. A pretty good example to follow, if you are one of those individuals who have natural psychic ability and wish to manifest it for good in the world as part of your ideals.

Possession

The readings affirm the continuity of consciousness and state that souls do not proceed immediately after death to some eternal resting place (be it heaven, hell, or whatever). Instead, the process of evolution toward unity with the Creator continues on various “planes” or dimensions of reality other than the earth. Unfortunately, some individuals have such strong attachments to the earth experience that they are unable to detach from this dimension at death. Instead, they may exist in a realm that the readings describes as the “borderland.” Such discarnate souls seeking expression in a physical manner, may find it through persons whose spiritual centers are open to cosmic influences. This opening may result from cases of insanity, alcoholism, epilepsy, and various other organic disorders or from misdirected attempts at spiritual evolvement (e.g., certain occult practices, obtaining “higher knowledge” without applying it, etc.).

It is important to note that Cayce’s use of the word possession in the readings does not suggest demonic possession. The intrusive entities were always earthbound spirits seeking expression in the earth plane. The readings’ portrayal of life after death can best be described as a “continuity of consciousness.” In other words, patterns of thought and action are carried over into the discarnate state. Interpersonal patterns of “possession” developed during one’s earthly life would thus be maintained by earthbound discarnates (e.g., a marriage partner who dominates a spouse, a parent who lives vicariously through an offspring, an employer who controls employees, etc.). With this in mind, one can appreciate the readings’ frequent use of the term influence (e.g., “discarnate influence” or “outside influence,” etc.) to describe the manifestation of possession.

Possession is not necessarily always a negative experience. Throughout history people of all cultures have sought possession by benevolent spirits and have engaged in rituals and ceremonies for that purpose (e.g., the Holy Spirit in Christianity).  Mediumship is a form of trance possession whereby individuals willingly allow discarnate entities to use their bodies for communication.  In this form, possession does not necessarily interfere with an individual’s course of life or produce pathological dissociation, and is time limited so that the individual can resume normal conscious daily living. The prime consideration in this type of possession is the conscious voluntary involvement of the person being possessed. The popularity of spiritualism in the nineteenth century and the current interest in channeling are examples of trance possession.

Interestingly, this type of "possession" occurred in some Cayce readings, including several instances in the A Search For God study group readings (262 series):

BOW THINE HEADS, O YE SONS OF MEN, WOULD YE KNOW THE WAY: FOR I, MICHAEL, THE LORD OF THE WAY, WOULD WARN THEE THAT THOU STANDEST NOT IN THE WAY OF THY BROTHER NOR SITTEST IN THE SEATS OF THE SCORNFUL, BUT RATHER MAKE KNOWN THAT LOVE, THAT GLORY, THAT POWER IN HIS NAME, THAT NONE BE AFRAID; FOR I, MICHAEL, HAVE SPOKEN!  (262-28)

COME, my children! Ye no doubt have gained from the comment this day a new initiate has spoken in or through this channel [Edgar Cayce]; Halaliel, that was with those in the beginning who warred with those that separated themselves and became as naught.  (262-56)

Because Cayce’s use of the term "possession" (in the readings for persons experiencing pathological symptoms) was not satanic, but more a matter of influence and obsession, the manifestation of this state was closely allied to the symptoms of the mental disorder. In other words, one would not expect a person receiving a psychic reading from Cayce which indicated possession to be exhibiting symptoms and behaviors which are graphically portrayed in innumerable movies about satanic possession (i.e., no rotating heads and vomit). Rather, one might observe a lack of control, periods of unconsciousness, obsessive thought patterns, anxiety, etc.

With regard to spiritual seeking, some Cayce readings describe cases of discarnate possession or discarnate influence that can occur when an individual is opened to the spiritual realms casually or without protection. This is why a prayer of protection is recommended when entering into deep meditation.  Here are a couple excerpts to provide a sense of what Cayce meant by “possession” in such instances.  They are not meant to provoke anxiety, merely to educate and inform so that you can make wise choices on the spiritual path:

(Q)  When my vitality is low and I get discouraged, is it still possible for undesirable discarnate beings to obsess me and make a statement unbeknown to me, as I believe they did in 1938 in [1387]'s office?
(A)  May obsess ANYONE that opens self to listen to same!  Surround self ever with that consciousness of, "Behold I stand at the door and knock," and others will NOT attempt!  (2067-3)

… there has been the opening of the lyden [Leydig] gland, so that the kundaline forces move along the spine to the various centers that open …  with these activities of the  reaction is much like that as may be illustrated in one gaining much knowledge without making practical application of it … Now we combine these two and we have that indicated here as possession of the body; gnawing, as it were, on all the seven centers of the body, causing the inability for rest or even a concerted activity – unless the body  finds, as this occurs, the disturbance is retarded or fades – in the abilities of the body to exercise itself in [giving] help for others.  (3421-1)

… the body is a supersensitive individual entity who has allowed itself through study, through opening the centers of the body, to become possessed with reflexes and activities outside of itself …
Q. How did I happen to pick this up?
A. … the body in its study opened the centers and allowed self to become sensitive to outside influences.
Q. What is it exactly that assails me?
A. Outside influences. Discarnate entities.  (5221-1)

Deep Meditation

There are various ways to approach meditation.  Reading 281-13 is one of the core readings that formed the basis for the approach of meditation provided in the first A Search For God book.  Here is an excerpt from 281-13 that emphasizes the importance of purifying the body and mind before entering meditation:

FIND that which is to YOURSELF the more certain way to your consciousness of PURIFYING body and mind, before ye attempt to enter into the meditation as to raise the image of that through which ye are seeking to know the will or the activity of the Creative Forces; for ye are RAISING in meditation actual CREATION taking place within the inner self! …  Now, when one has cleansed self, in whatever manner it may be, there may be no fear that it will become so overpowering that it will cause any physical or mental disorder. It is WITHOUT the cleansing that entering any such finds ANY type or form of disaster, or of pain, or of any dis-ease of any nature…. First, CLEANSE the room; cleanse the body; cleanse the surroundings, in thought, in act! Approach not the inner man, or the inner self, with a grudge or an unkind thought held against ANY man! or do so to thine own undoing sooner or later!  (281-13)

The meditation resources that have been recommended at the beginning of each session of this course are sensible and safe if you follow the methods consistently.  The readings insist that it essential for each soul to learn to meditate as part of its attunement to the divine in its journey back to its source.  You can make it a safe journey by paying attention and using common sense.

The Meditation chapter at the beginning of the A Search For God I book provides some practical examples of opening the door to higher consciousness safely and responsibly:

An engineer, before going into an electric power plant for work, must take off a certain type of wearing apparel and put on another. His mind must be filled with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the mechanism to be handled, lest death and destruction result. How much more is a cleansing and understanding necessary when we seek to attune our bodies to the source of all force? He has promised to meet us within our own sanctuary. One that goes in unworthily does it to ones own destruction.  (Study Group # 1, 1992, p. 4)

When we have cleansed ourselves in the manner that is to us the best, there will be no fear that our experiences will become so overpowering as to cause any physical or mental disorder. It is when there is no cleaning that entering into such a state brings disaster, or pain, or disease.  (Study Group # 1, 1992, p. 4)

If, however, the ideal and purpose are out of harmony with the soul-mind, the opening of the door between the physical and spiritual will result in turmoil within, striking at the weakest point.  (Study Group # 1, 1992, p. 8)

It is through meditation that we may become aware of the existence of the spiritual forces within, that we unlock the door between our physical and spiritual bodies. Through this door come impulses from the soul, seeking expression in the physical.  (Study Group # 1, 1992, p. 9)

As we, in meditation, open ourselves to the unseen forces that surround the throne of grace, beauty, and might within ourselves, let us throw around us the protection found in the thought of the Christ. When our minds are on God, the Christ, who is our Ideal, we need not worry about destructive results. Remember the promise, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.'  (Study Group # 1, 1992, p. 11)

Open With Care

This discussion of why the door to higher consciousness is closed by default and why we must be careful in opening it is not intended to create fear or aversion to spiritual awakening. Rather it just points out the necessity of approaching this phase of soul development in a gradual, safe process that is grounded in daily practice and guided by a spiritual ideal.

Thankfully, the approach to spiritual awakening and achieving higher states of consciousness laid out in the ASFG material is designed to avoid such complications.  The attunement process (prayer and meditation) with a positive affirmation and prayer of protection is sensible and practical.  Working with ideals and having a definite sense of purpose channels spiritual energy in a positive way.  Focusing on service to others directs the energy outward so that it doesn’t get stuck within the system and produce irritation.  Being part of a group of caring spiritual seekers who can provide support and feedback is part of the safety net that this approach provides.

Key Points To Remember

  • As you progress along the path to spiritual awakening, make haste slowly and take reasonable precautions to maintain your balance.
  • This can best be achieved by working with a spiritual ideal to direct spiritual energy into constructive channels.
  • Applying knowledge gained to help others and make the world a better place (rather than as a mere curiosity or personal power trip) also makes for stability and safety as you open the door to higher states of consciousness.
  • Keep the physical body healthy and be careful about drugs and extreme spiritual practices intended to hasten or deepen mystical experience as a shortcut.
  • Don’t force the process of spiritual awakening or get impatient because you don’t have any (or enough) “wow” experiences.  These are just signs along the way.  Don’t seek them for their own sake.
  • Take care when attempting extreme metaphysical practices intended to expand consciousness (particualrly psychic development techniques that tend to open the spiritual centers).  If you do choose that type of path, be sure you have an experienced teacher and adequate support resources so that you can keep a balance and use the process for a constructive purpose.

References

Kieffer, G. (ed.). (1988). Kundalini for the new age: Selected writings of Gopi Krishna. New York: Bantam.

Mintz, E. E. (1983). The psychic thread. New York: Human Sciences Press.

Study Group # 1.  (1992).  A Search For God.   34th Printing. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Thurston, M. (1976).  Experiments in a Search for God.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Resources

  • Opening The Seals – This video segment describes the opening of the spiritual centers during a dramatic kundalini experience.
  • Possession – This video segment briefly describes the meaning of "possession" in the Cayce readings.  Note: All the videos from the House of Clay lecture are available for viewing on the Free page of this website.
  • Opening The Centers – This discussion of Opening The Centers come from the House of Clay Lecture.  Kundalini, possession, and meditation are discussed from the standpoint of the body-soul connection.
  • Psychic Experiences – This video segment discusses a couple of cases of psychic awakening associated with kundalini.  Edgar Cayce's psychic process is discussed.
  • Possession – This Adobe Acrobat pdf file is an appendix from the book The Treatment of Schizophrenia.  Although written from a mental health perspective, it does provide an overview of the Cayce perspective on “possession.”

  • Leydig and Pineal Glands – This resource article discusses the body-soul connection from the perspective of the "seat of the soul" which the readings identified as the Leydig gland and pineal gland. The above article introduced these concepts. This link will take you to a page with much more depth and detail.

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