[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of "A Search For God" study group I opened each lesson with some comments to get the lesson started and provide a personal overview of some key points for that lesson. Here are some of my Opening Comments. – David McMillin]
ASFG I: Weekly Lesson Announcements
Week 1: Cooperation
Welcome to this first lesson in the ASFG series, where we will establish a foundation for all future lessons. That foundation can be distilled into one word – ONENESS:
“It is necessary for the accomplishment of any aim, for the reaching of any goal, and for the attainment of any blessings for self or humanity that we have one mind, one aim, and one purpose… Then, let us attune ourselves to the highest spiritual Force. This will come when we are in accord with His will… It is a oneness of mind, a oneness of purpose which we must all seek …” (ASFG)
The process is to attune to God's will within (prayer and meditation) and then carry that attunement outward into daily life in Cooperation with others. But the cooperation with others is based upon Cooperation with God (ONENESS).
Remember, we are also beginning with the Attunement lesson and exercises, which will continue with each of the lessons that follow. The affirmation for this lesson sets the tone and establishes a focus for attunement with God's will – Thy will be done – making our will one with God (ONENESS).
This initial lesson also lays out a "triune" pattern (spiritual, mental, physical) that we will be utilizing in many of the lessons that follow.
"Whether in the spiritual or physical, action is necessary to put cooperation into operation … We must put cooperation into action in our thinking." (ASFG)
Note the emphasis on "action" (APPLICATION).
The spiritual, mental, and physical dimensions of cooperation are unified by an Ideal, which we will taking up in the third lesson. So just start to become familiar and comfortable with the Triune model of self, because we will be using it a lot in future lessons. It's important to keep in mind that the Triune model represents ONENESS – spirit, mind, and body are ONE. That is Cooperation. If spirit, mind, and body fail to cooperate (what the readings call “incoordination”), illness is the result.
Week 2: Know Thyself
“As entities, we are miniature copies of the universe, possessing physical, mental, and spiritual bodies. These bodies are so closely associated and related that the vibrations of one affect the other two.” (ASFG)
In essence, this lesson is an introduction to self-knowledge utilizing the triune model of the self: Know Thyself – spiritually, mentally, physically – which is also the basis for the Ideals Exercise in the next lesson. We will also consider this triune model in a future lesson on Faith and reality creation (“Spirit is the Life, Mind is the builder, physical is the result). So pay attention to the triune model self in this lesson, for we will be seeing it again and again in the lessons that follow.
“Let us dare to see ourselves as others see us. It is well to stand aside and see ourselves go by.” (ASFG)
This lesson also emphasizes relationship as a primary means of self-knowledge – relationships with others and with God. As we look into the “Mirror of Life” we can know ourselves to be ourselves and yet be one with the Whole that is God (there's ONENESS again). Thus knowing ourselves in relationship to God has both “inner” and “outer” aspects.
“For, the search for God is found in self, as also in the manner in which ye treat, think and feel toward, thy fellow men.” (2282-1)
The compilers of the ASFG book text, put it this way:
“When we are conscious that we can reconcile the spirit within with the spirit without and know that they are one from the same source, God, then we have a spiritual awakening.“ (ASFG)
The inner and outer aspects of selfhood – attunement to God WITHIN through prayer and meditation; application WITHOUT in the midst of life in the world among others – will also be revisited in many subsequent lessons. So this is simply another conceptual foundation block upon which we will build as we move forward with these lessons.
Week 3: Ideals
"From the physical, mental, and spiritual viewpoints our ideals are patterns by which we endeavor to shape our lives. We must understand the meaning of "The Oneness" and merge our physical and mental ideals with the spiritual ideal of the soul." (ASFG)
Now you can see why we have emphasized the triune model (physical, mental, spiritual) and ONENESS so much in the first two lessons. This forms the foundation of working with Ideals, which are the motivating patterns in our lives:
“An ideal is something beyond and above us toward which we build.” (ASFG)
The ASFG book text is careful to point out the difference between ideas and ideals. Otherwise we can delude ourselves with our thinking rather than attuning to the Spirit of God within (the ONENESS of true Cooperation). This is a common mistake by which some begin with “mind is the builder” and forget that “spirit is the life” upon which the mind builds.
“Our ideals are ever present; they are either consciously or unconsciously the bases for the motivating forces in our lives.” (ASFG)
Thus becoming aware of our ideals is an extension of “Know Thyself.” The Ideals exercise is a wonderful tool for this self-assessment.
The Cayce readings insist that the man Jesus (who became Christ – one with God) is a worthy example for a spiritual ideal. Jesus attained “Christ Consciousness” which may be defined as:
“(Q) Should the Christ-Consciousness be described as the awareness within each soul, imprinted in pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will, of the soul's oneness with God?
(A) Correct. That's the idea exactly!” (5749-14)
Thus Ideals are a practical means of achieving Oneness with God by bringing the physical and mental dimensions of the triune self into attunement with the Spirit. Working with Ideals provides a way of developing will constructively and becoming conscious co-creators in partnership with God.
Week 4: Faith
It is so easy to become mesmerized by materiality – to have confidence in our physical senses and rational mind to reveal the true nature of reality. But that is not Faith, for Faith affirms that there is a reality beyond materiality which is the Source and basis of our physical experience. Faith recognizes the unseen realm of Spirit:
“Faith is a bridge that spans the gulf from the seen to the unseen.” (ASFG)
Faith is the builder by which Spirit functions through the mind, bringing “all that has ever existed” into manifestation:
“It [faith] is the builder of the seemingly impossible. It is that which has brought into manifestation all that has ever existed.” (ASFG)
Faith requires activity. Faith is what we do. Through application Faith grows:
“Faith is developed by the use of it… Then let us add to our faith works which show forth attributes that are expressions of His Spirit in the world.” (ASFG)
That is a noteworthy statement: Faith can be developed by using it. We can grow faith by actively putting it into practice in daily application through living our Ideals and manifesting the fruits of the spirit. The active quality of Faith is similar to “active Patience” that we will explore in a future lesson. So although both Faith and Patience can have a passive quality (i.e, something we have), the readings strongly encourage active application for both of these spiritual virtues (i.e, something we do).
“Do we know in whom we believe? If so, then the ideal or standard toward which we move becomes the basis for the activity of faith in constant action from the mental, imaginative, and spiritual forces. Thus we may express or bring into manifestation that which is held as our ideal – not for self-exaltation, but rather to show the blessings we have received and to see them manifested in the lives of others. Let us look within ourselves and know that we are workers together with God. We should analyze ourselves to find out just where the flesh is weak, where we are most likely to fail, and then seek a constant reinforcement of spirit that will make us hold on with unwavering faith to our Ideal.” (ASFG)
Spirit is the life, mind is the builder, physical is the result. This is three step dance of reality creation that is energized by our spiritual ideal, formed by the mind, and projected into physical reality by our activity. To do this consciously in co-creation with God requires Faith in the unseen forces of spirit. This is Faith in action that grows as we live it.
Week 5: Virtue and Understanding
Having been involved in construction for many years as a builder, I really appreciate the following analogy from the last section of the ASFG book text for this lesson:
“We may compare the daily building of ourselves, mentally, physically, and spiritually, to the construction of a house. Are we choosing those attributes that will help our development? Are we casting aside the imperfect stones, using only the good? Are we placing them evenly in line? Are we ready to be passed on by the divine Inspector? If we can answer these questions in the affirmative, then we are hastening our development toward God. The quality of the structure depends upon us and upon us only. We are building for ourselves either hovels or holy temples.” (ASFG)
In another portion of the text we find this construction analogy:
“With virtue, therefore, comes understanding, for the two are as the tenon and the mortise [carpentry joinery]; they fit one with the other.” (ASFG)
These excerpts do seem to capture and summarize an important theme of this lesson – which is personal responsibility for self-assessment based on how well we are APPLYING previous lessons, all of which represent virtue with the potential for spiritual understanding. With this understanding, mind the builder is provided constructive blueprints by which to create our personal and collective reality. Thus these lessons are sequential and cumulative when put into practice.
IN THE APPLICATION (of Virtue) COMES THE AWARENESS (Understanding). This is a theme at the core of every lesson in ASFG. As we APPLY spiritual truth, we BECOME that truth in the fabric of our being as souls. Thus this lesson on Virtue and Understanding is not simply a philosophical or theological exercise of mental gymnastics – rather it is a practical, applied lesson in the Search for God.
Week 6: Fellowship
In this lesson we are reminded that in Searching For God, we must seek for God WITHIN and WITHOUT. As the book text for this lesson points out:
"Prayer and meditation are the essential factors that will keep alive within us this perfect harmony. Are we seeking this fellowship? Would we have God draw nigh unto us? If so, then let us draw nigh unto God …" (ASFG)
"If we wish to know how we stand with God, let us examine ourselves and see how we feel toward our neighbor. This companionship that we are seeking with God is found in the friendliness we show our neighbor… Seek God where He may be found, even in the heart of a neighbor." (ASFG)
"Would I have fellowship with Thee, I must show brotherly love to my fellow man." (ASFG)
In certain respects this lesson echoes the lesson on Cooperation. As with Cooperation, the emphasis is on relationship with God as the basis for relationship with others – so it is with Fellowship. Fellowship with God (inner attunement) is translated into interpersonal relations in our daily lives with others (which can be regarded as brotherhood or sisterhood in the family of God).
The Search For God is about relationships – at all levels.
Lesson 7: Patience
This is another lesson that emphasizes the sequential and cumulative nature of this series:
“Through patience we learn to know self, to measure and test our ideals, to use faith, and to seek understanding through virtue. Thus all spiritual attributes are embraced in patience.” (ASFG).
In particular, Patience may be regarded as an extension Faith. Although Faith and Patience are commonly regarded as passive virtues, the Cayce readings insist that both should be ACTIVE – put into practice in daily life. Furthermore, to practice Patience requires Faith, in some manner or degree, at some level of consciousness. Just as Faith is the bridge between the seen and unseen, active Patience (put into practice as a manifestation of the fruits of the spirit) creates a bridge in consciousness between the finite and Infinite:
“Hence, in the fruits of that – as is given oft, as the fruits of the spirit – does man become aware of the infinite penetrating, or inter-penetrating the activities of all forces of matter, or that which is a manifestation of the realm of the infinite into the finite – and the finite becomes conscious of same.” (262-52)
“For the spirit itself may not be seen; for God hath not at any time been seen by man, only the manifested fruits of the spirit … patience, longsuffering, brotherly love, kindness, gentleness; not exalting of self but rather abasement of self that there may be the closer union, the closer walk with that I AM THAT I AM.” (1376-1)
In Patience we can “possess” (become aware of) ourselves as souls in relation to our Infinite Source in the here and now of space and time.
As a manifestation of Spirit, Patience (together with other virtues from previous lessons) finds it place in the sequence of this course, opening the “Door” to higher consciousness and making possible the experience of being “In God’s Presence” (future lessons in ASFG).
Lesson 8: The Open Door
With this lesson, we focus more explicitly on higher states of consciousness, and particularly with regard to what the readings describe as “Christ Consciousness.” Perhaps the most helpful definition of Christ Consciousness was proposed by Edgar Cayce’s friend and biographer Thomas Sugrue as he obtained readings in preparation for writing “There Is A River” (the first biography of Edgar Cayce):
“(Q) Should the Christ-Consciousness be described as the awareness within each soul, imprinted in pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will, of the soul's oneness with God?
(A) Correct. That's the idea exactly!” (5749-14)
The innate awareness of oneness with God (Christ Consciousness) is an INNER experience of God that can be expressed OUTWARDLY in our dealings with others through “Christ Spirit:”
“When we are aware of the Christ Consciousness within, we begin to put into action the Christ Spirit without. It is only in the application of our spiritual attributes day by day that we become living examples, showing our at-onement with Him; thus we not only open the door, but as channels, are doors.” (ASFG)
Although the readings insist that each person must make their own choices as to how to find God, they also strongly encourage the use of Jesus as an ideal with a focus on the Christ Consciousness that he achieved. Inner Attunement (prayer and meditation) provides a solid basis for opening the door to higher consciousness, yet applied spirituality in relationships with others (Christ Spirit) is also essential. Thus we find God WITHIN and WITHOUT and experience the presence of God (which is the focus of our next lesson).
Lesson 9: In God’s Presence
This lesson is an extension of the Open Door as we become aware of God’s abiding presence – God WITHIN and WITHOUT:
"Sensing the presence of God within and without, we become quiet, throw off anxiety, and are conscious of a renewing power." (ASFG)
"With the realization of being in His presence comes that peace which casts out all fear and loneliness. There comes a feeling of being a part of the scheme of things. This is recognizing the God within as well as without." (ASFG)
Although the awareness of God’s presence can be a dramatic “peak” experience, more often it is in the (apparent) little things that we find God: The still small voice within during prayer and meditation; the love expressed when we reach out to support another in need and see the image of God within that person reflected back; the experience of God’s presence in nature; creativity, and so forth …
Sometimes when the experience of being in the presence of God is dramatic and powerful, it may be associated with imbalance in some manner, if the individual is not prepared:
“Could a child be trusted with a live wire? No more could we be trusted with divine power until we, through love, discipline, and faith come to understand the divine law. It is the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom. It is ours only when we learn through patience to possess our souls.” (ASFG)
Thus the growth that comes from application of the previous lessons prepares us in a sacred way for the experience of being in God's abiding presence, however it may manifest in our individual consciousness.
Lesson 10: The Cross And The Crown
As the door to higher consciousness is opened and we become aware of God’s abiding presence, we are presented with the opportunity of experiencing the “Crown of Glory” (as symbolized by the halo of light surrounding the head in classical paintings). This transformational experience represents a further raising of sacred energy in the process of spiritual development. And yet, to achieve this state there must be self sacrifice as we overcome selfishness in its varied forms.
This lesson entails taking a definite stand for what we believe and being tested, particularly when it seems that bad things happen to good people (as in the case of the Biblical story of Job). Meeting one’s crosses in partnership with God enables joy and happiness – the crown of Glory.
This is a difficult lesson and was particularly challenging to some members of the original study group who were offended by the concept of reincarnation and karma as part of the soul’s journey back to the Source. Consequently, some individuals left the group. With the cultural changes in western society in the latter decades of the twentieth century and the influx of eastern religions and spiritual practices, concepts such as reincarnation and karma may be more accessible as explanations for the presence of evil and suffering in the world, and yet still problematic for some on the spiritual path.
The point is that we each have our own crosses to bear – crosses of our own making. The challenge is to bear our crosses gracefully. Jesus provided an example of how to do that, even in a worst-case-scenario of life. It’s our choice on how we meet our crosses and achieve the crown of Glory.
Lesson 11: Oneness
Oneness has been a theme, like a thread woven through the fabric of almost every lesson we have encountered thus far in our Search for God. The basis for true Cooperation is making our will ONE with the will of God; knowing ourselves to be ourselves, and yet ONE with the Whole that is God; spiritual, mental and physical ideals – they are ONE, and so forth …
Now, after having reflected on good and evil in the world (The Cross And The Crown) with all the inherent duality and polarity that such considerations raise, we look beyond the illusion of separateness and division and focus directly on ONENESS. The richness of diversity and multiplicity around us (and within our very being, our own selves) function in the service of Oneness, if we have that consciousness. Here is how it was expressed in one of the Cayce “work” readings (254 series):
“What is the more real, the book with its printed pages, its gilt edges, or the essence of that told of in the book? Which is the more real, the love manifested in the Son, the Savior, for His brethren, or the essence of love that may be seen even in the vilest of passion? THEY ARE ONE [caps added for emphasis]. But that they bring into being in a materialized form is what elements of the ONE SOURCE [caps added for emphasis] have been combined to produce a materialization. Beautiful, isn't it? How far, then, is ungodliness from godliness? Just under, that's all!” (254-68)
The consciousness of ONENESS is beautiful indeed!
Lesson 12: Love
The natural expression of Oneness is Love. The life and teachings of Jesus remind us that God is Love and that the Search For God (Within and Without) can be condensed into the simple admonition to Love God with all our heart, mind and soul and others as ourselves (Love God, Love others, Love self).
Like many of the words used in ASFG, Love has many meanings and associations in a worldly context, yet a special meaning as we search for God. For God is Love and the source of Love. The spiritual meaning of Love cannot be understood apart from God (in whatever manner we conceptualize God – but that's a future lesson in itself: "God's Manifestation").
One of the challenges of loving others is that it sometimes requires that we honor boundaries and assist others in helping themselves (rather than simply indulging the self-centeredness of others in the name of love). Thus the “law of love” is part of the larger course in soul development in this earthly sphere and may at times require the practice of what the readings call “loving indifference” (as may be appropriate in law enforcement, the legal system, or even in certain family situations). In other words:
“The law of love does not do away with other laws, but makes the law of recompense, the law of faith, the law of earth forces of effect – not defective but effective.” (ASFG)
Many stumble on the concept of healthy self-love. To be sure this is another challenge in our modern culture that seeks to define Love apart from God. Love of God comes first, then Love of others as self. When we put God first, then the rest tends to fall into place naturally – the universe is set up that way. This is the pattern that we observed back with the first lesson on Cooperation and we are still following that path that leads to Oneness with God, for that is Love Divine.
ASFG II: Weekly Lesson Announcements
Lesson 1: Opportunity
As we resume our study of this series, the ASFG book text for this lesson reminds us that each of the twelve lessons leading up to this point has been an Opportunity in our Search For God. As has been pointed out in numerous previous lessons, the sequential and cumulative nature of the material is emphasized.
We are also reminded that life is on purpose. Thus the lessons of this earthly classroom are simply opportunities to learn and grow. Interestingly, the first paragraph of the book text for this lesson reminds us that our experiences in this earthly classroom are not the only factors associated with the abundant opportunities available to us as student souls:
“Through the physical body the soul has an opportunity to express the attainments developed in other spheres of consciousness. Life on earth becomes an opportunity for paralleling, correlating, cooperating, bringing into existence the effects of using all experiences presented for the development of the soul.” (ASFG)
The phrase “other spheres of consciousness” relates to planetary (astrological) sojourns in other planes of consciousness, thus providing a cosmic perspective on the opportunities that are manifest in our daily lives on planet earth. It’s all about the soul’s journey on its way back to its Source – the greatest opportunity of all.
Lesson 2: Day And Night
In the continuity of these lessons, with certain lessons echoing or resonating at higher octaves (like notes on a piano keyboard), we might regard this lesson as an extension of Oneness in which duality is transcended by complementary opposites.
I’m reminded of the lyrics of a song written by David Arkin in response to a United States Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial segregation of public schools:
“The world is black, the world is white
It turns by day and then by night
A child is black, a child is white
Together they grow to see the light, to see the light …”
(‘Black and White’ – song popularized by Three Dog Night)
To be sure, this is a challenging lesson in which you may notice a tendency to interpret Day and Night in strictly dualistic terms of light and dark, good and evil, oneness and separation. Yet the Cayce readings clearly insist that there is an essential role for each of these apparent opposites in the greater scheme of creation and soul development, as the soul makes it way through eternity, finding its way back to its Source. A way has been prepared.
In that sense this lesson also points ahead to the Destiny trilogy (especially Destiny of the Soul) and encourages an awareness of God’s Manifestation in the earth (our next lesson).
There is an aspect of “Know Thyself” (ASFG I) as we wrestle with the concept of separation and oneness – the soul seeking to know itself to be itself and yet one with the Whole that is God.
Thus Day and Night are essential conditions in the classroom of earthly experience for each soul. By transcending duality and integrating the Oneness of Day and Night into your daily cycle (through dreams, meditation, and daytime activities), you may come “to be one with the source, or equal with yet separate from that first cause.” (262-52)
PS – If its helpful, you can review the Oneness lesson at:
Lesson 3: God’s Manifestation
“What is our concept of God? Is God in our life only a fact, an all-wise, all-inclusive, all-manifesting force, or is He a loving and forgiving Father?” (ASFG)
What is your CONCEPT OF GOD? And how does God MANIFEST in the Earth? These are the primary questions that we will be focusing on this week. Clearly, this ASFG lesson advocates for a personal God of relationship – a loving parent (“Father” although some Cayce readings do use the more inclusive “Father-Mother God”).
Actually, there are many CONCEPTS OF GOD utilized in the readings depending upon the context: Ground of Being (“I Am That I Am”); Universal Force (“Creative Energy” or “Creative Force”, “First Cause”); Oneness and Unity (the “Whole”), etc. Some of the lessons in ASFG focus on a single aspect of the Divine: God is Love, God is Spirit, God is One …
Of course, God is beyond our words and concepts (which are only symbolic aids in helping us to speak of God and think of the Divine in a practical way).
What is really important is that you look within and recognize your own CONCEPT OF GOD. You do have one – everyone does. Even an atheist has a CONCEPT OF GOD – but just rejects that concept as being unreal or lacking in meaning – or is simply rebellious at some level. So you can examine your own CONCEPT OF GOD in this lesson, and make adjustments in your thinking about God, if you feel the need to change your mind.
The important thing is that our CONCEPT OF GOD allows us to be in relationship with God and express God’s love in our daily life. For ultimately, it is the MANIFESTATION of God in the earth through our lives that counts the most in our Search For God. Each of us is a channel for God’s MANIFESTATION in the earth. Such an Opportunity!!
Lesson 4: Desire
Some people have a difficult time with Desire, having been indoctrinated with an entirely negative view of desire (i.e., desire as simply carnal, selfish, and evil). Yet the Cayce readings insist that Desire is a spiritual attribute – even God Desires. In the three-dimensional earthly experience, desire may manifest at all three levels: Spiritual, mental, and physical.
Certainly Desire can be selfish and destructive, if that is the choice. The solution is to “spiritualize” Desire (per the exercise for this lesson). I really like the following excerpt from the ASFG book text for this lesson. It resonates so strongly with the recurrent theme of knowing oneself to be oneself and yet one with the Creator – in this case, with regard to spiritualizing the will (which is the source of Desire in the context of soul development in the search for God):
“Our soul was created as a companion with the Creator, able to become aware of itself, yet with influences that require the spiritualizing of the creative power of the will. This develops god-likeness in the soul or activity.” (ASFG)
For those who are following closely with the ASFG Book II text, you will notice the physical/mental/spiritual organization of the material for this lesson (as it relates to Desire). Certainly this triune model has been a prominent pattern in many previous lessons, but will be elaborated even more fully in the Destiny trilogy that follows (and also echoed strongly in the later lessons in ASFG II as well).
Lesson 5: Destiny of the Mind
This week we begin a three-lesson series that I call the DESTINY TRILOGY: Destiny of the Mind, Body, and Soul. So the concept of DESTINY is important to grasp. But there is also an underlying emphasis on the triune self: Spiritual, mental and physical – they are ONE, yet distinct.
We have encountered the triune model of self in many previous lessons, and it is certainly prominent in the Cayce readings as a whole. The readings even speak of the spiritual body, the mental body, and the physical body as discrete entities that allow us to experience the three dimensional reality associated with incarnation in a flesh body in the earth.
The triune theme was explicitly encouraged in subsequent lessons as well, so you might want to file that bit of information away in your mind as we move through the rest of the lessons in ASFG II.
The concept of Destiny suggests that there is a direction and purpose to ultimate reality, as defined by God. It is only in the details and timing that have we latitude in our application of will – either selfishly or in attunement with God’s will.
From the Cayce perspective, Destiny indicates that there was a deviation from the divine plan – some souls, with the right to choose, made the choice of extreme separation, seeking to replace God with their own image. A loving God responded with a PLAN: A WAY was provided to redirect the willful souls, yet allowing each soul to retain its individuality. The universe was created just for this purpose, as a school with classrooms for the soul to learn and grow – to reclaim its heritage as companion and co-creator with its Source. Destiny is not predestination in the strictest sense, for there is considerable creative flexibility in how we learn our lessons and the path we choose to fulfill our Destiny.
We begin this trilogy by considering the Destiny of the Mind – that active aspect of Spirit which is the builder. Blessings, Dave
Lesson 6: Destiny of the Body
The weeks have flown by and we are almost ready to wrap up this series of lessons. We are continuing to reflect on the meaning of Destiny (as it relates to A Search for God). From the ASFG book text for this lesson:
“We have one wavelength that is ours. We have one light beam, and on it we must come in, must go back to the Father, or else lose our identity. Then we must seek to purge the body until it is raised in a glorified body to be one with the Whole, and yet be our own. In other words: to know ourselves to be ourselves, yet one with God.” (ASFG)
That’s some pretty powerful imagery and symbolism, as well as a solid conceptual framework for the Destiny of the Body. For me the poetry of “wavelength” and “light beam” evokes a vibratory transformation of the body in its evolution (both individually and collectively) that is somehow associated with Oneness and Creative Energies (and probably also reflected in our auras). I have sensed this at times (especially during meditation and during sleep/dreams) – and even in the conscious light of daily activities, as I am sure many of you have as well.
The “purging of the body” is an echo of the “Spiritualizing Desire” exercise in a previous lesson. The “glorified body” mentioned in the ASFG text excerpt above also points ahead to the lesson on Glory that immediately follows the Destiny Trilogy. So these lessons are integrated and do blend together as we continue our Search For God.
Lesson 7: Destiny of the Soul
As we complete the Destiny Trilogy that we began in our last session, this excerpt from the ASFG book text for this lesson touches upon several important themes:
“The entity is the manifestation of soul in spiritual, mental, and physical form. Though our soul may have wandered far afield, though it may make its bed in hell, thought it may take the wings of the morning and fly to the utmost parts of the universe, eventually it must wend it way back to the source from whence it came, to its God, its Maker." (ASFG)
First we have the triune model of the self – spiritual, mental, and physical – the “entity” as a manifestation of soul in the earth. The lessons that we study in this three-dimensional classroom of consciousness may be heaven or hell – of our own creation. The flight of the soul is a universal experience encompassing other planes of consciousness (planetary sojourns) and past lives of various sorts. Yet we all make it back to our Maker – prodigal souls, making our way through eternity, finding our way back to the Source from which we came. Thus reunion and Oneness with God as the Destiny of each soul.
You may notice the strong emphasis on APPLICATION throughout the ASFG book text for this lesson. Here is my personal favorite:
“It is not knowledge, nor is it understanding, but the application of the opportunities that present themselves, that builds the destinies that arise in the experience of the soul.” (ASFG)
If you choose to do the ETERNITY exercise, be sure to keep that one in mind.
Lesson 8: Glory
Notice the triune structure of this lesson: Glory of the Mind, Glory of the Body, Glory of the Soul – an echo of the Destiny Trilogy that was specifically encouraged in the group readings for this lesson.
“(Q) Please give an outline for the lesson Glory.
(A) There have been many outlines for the varied lessons. Would you change these? Is not this outline the same as the others; that pertaining to the various phases of Glory?
As has been given in the first, there is the Glory of the Mind, the Body, the Soul. In all of these phases there are presented the various activities through which there may be the interpretation of Glory in those that would be glorious, or the interpretation of Glory in those that would show forth the Glory of the Lord.” (262-92)
We may also notice the echo of Glory from the Cross and the Crown lesson in ASFG I (the “crown of glory” which is the reward for meeting our lessons in life through our spiritual Ideal). This lesson even resonates with the lessons on Cooperation and Opportunity:
“GLORY IS OUR ABILITY TO SERVE, which is an opportunity given to us by God… Our ability and our service given with cooperation in being channels through the glory of the Lord may be manifested in the earth.” (ASFG)
Thus there is a very strong interpersonal emphasis on Glory as the manifestation of loving relationships. Glory is the Destiny of the Soul, learning companionship through cooperation with God and other souls.
With regard to Glory as light, enlightenment is the outcome of the process of soul development in the Search for God – a raised vibration attuned to its spiritual Source. What a glorious thought!
Lesson 9: Knowledge
This lesson does echo a previous one on “Virtue and Understanding” (ASFG I). Thus, in the Search for God, Knowledge is not simply value-free information. Rather it is sacred and personal. And the readings do have a definite preference for APPLIED Knowledge (rather than purely theoretical or conceptual mental constructions), much as we learned in that previous lesson (i.e., the APPLICATION of virtue leads to Understanding). And of course, this lesson strongly encourages APPLICATION of Knowledge. Yes, I know – I keep beating the same old drum (and perhaps preaching to the choir) – and yet there is an entire section in the book text on The Application of Knowledge.
There is also a clear echo from the “Know Thyself” lesson (ASFG I):
"In our lesson 'Know Thyself,' we approach the study of the physical body as a part of our own being. Here, in our lesson 'Knowledge,' we must turn to a study of the body as it relates to, and indeed pictures, the universe.” (ASFG)
We are reminded that “Knowledge is the ability that enables us to live in harmony with the laws of the universe.” This more expansive, universal perspective of Knowledge reminds us that the lessons of the Destiny trilogy are a solid foundation in our Search For God – Knowledge of the Mind, Knowledge of the Body, Knowledge of the Soul.
From the “Knowledge is Power” section of the book text we find this observation (which is one of my personal favorites for this lesson):
“The knowledge of God does not bind us to dogmas, or man-made beliefs; rather it sets us free.” (ASFG)
Lesson 10: Wisdom
This lesson on Wisdom is an extension of the last one on Knowledge. Certainly, many of the lessons in the ASFG series have this quality of resonance and echo.
In this instance, the emphasis on APPLICATION of Knowledge for a spiritual purpose is the glue that holds them together in tandem. Or as the book text for this lesson states in its first sentence:
“Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge aright.” (ASFG)
So it is APPLICATION of Knowledge with a purpose – a spiritual purpose that is the essence of Wisdom. Using Knowledge aright involves “will” in making choices:
“Wisdom is first a matter of choice, of will in the light of that which is our ideal, and in the manner in which we apply it in our experience with others.” (ASFG)
So we also make use of our Knowledge of Ideals with this lesson. And when we reflect on Ideals, naturally the pattern of Christ (e.g., Christ-Consciousness, Christ-Spirit, Christ-Life) is the standard consistently endorsed in the Cayce readings as the ultimate spiritual Ideal.
Lesson 11: Happiness
Have you noticed that these last lessons in this series come almost as a reward. We have worked hard and at times struggled with the information – especially putting it into practice – and now we are rewarded. We experience Glory, Wisdom, and now Happiness. We reap what we sow – when we sow goodness, Happiness is the reward. Like begets like. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
This lesson resonates strongly as an echo of the Love lesson that concluded ASFG I. Consider the first sentence of the book text:
“Happiness is abiding in Infinite Love.” (ASFG)
The rest of the lesson is about how to do it.
Interestingly, in the “Wisdom and Foolishness” exercise in our last lesson, we reflected on the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as an example of Wisdom. In this lesson, the compilers of the ASFG book text tapped into that same scripture as the basis for Happiness (i.e., blessed = happy). A nice continuity there.
Another continuity with the last lesson is found in the Wisdom attributed to Solomon as cited in the ASFG book text under the heading, “Pleasure Is Not Happiness”:
“I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits … Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do …Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-13)
The point being – Wisdom leads to Happiness.
Lesson 12: Spirit
I find it helpful to focus on the first sentence or two of each lesson in the ASFG book text to get the gist (or at least an important theme) for that lesson. So with this lesson we find:
“Spirit is FIRST CAUSE, the essence of Creative Power, the source of light, and the motivating influence of all life. It is God.” (ASFG)
Herein we find a concept of God as Creator or Creative Power (or Creative Energy) which is the Source of life. Hence the expression: “spirit is the life” or life-force of a body. The motivating or movement aspect of Spirit attests to life – when something is alive, it moves. When it is dead, movement ceases. So when you find yourself moved or motivated to do something, that is Spirit (which may manifest as Desire, a spiritual attribute). But as we saw with the Oneness lesson (and later with the Desire lesson), Spirit can be misdirected if we are self-centered (e.g., see the resource on the “Oneness of Good and Evil” under the Transcending Dualism exercise for the Oneness Lesson in ASFG I.)
We explored the creative potential of spirit in the Faith Lesson (Plato's Allegory of the Cave – “Reality Creation”). Thus we are each co-creators working with Spirit, which is formed and shaped by the mind, and producing a physical result.
A significant part of the ASFG book text for this lesson is devoted to the creation story that we have touched upon in a number of previous lessons. Hopefully this is all somewhat familiar to you by this point in our journey.
One of the most important themes that runs through all the lessons is Oneness – and specifically that awareness of Oneness with God that the readings call Christ-Consciousness, the achievement of which is the cause of being:
“… we will come to know ourselves to be ourselves, yet one with and part of, the whole, yet not the Whole. That is the purpose, the cause of being.” (ASFG)