Introduction to Searching For God (Video Script)
In his 19th century writings, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche announced the death of God. Since Nietzsche was an atheist, it was not a personal pronouncement indicating a lack of faith on his behalf. Rather, he was making the observation that the conventional god of 19th century middle class Christianity in Europe was no longer believable as a source of revealed wisdom or divine intervention in human history. In other words people had lost faith in any cosmic order or higher power that created the universe, established moral laws, or attended to personal prayers.
The “God is Dead” theme was echoed in the influential nationalistic, socialistic, and humanistic movements of 20th century, culminating in a 1966 Time magazine cover story addressing the topic. To this day there is a steady stream of books and articles conveying a godless world philosophy based on scientific rationalism and strictly human values.
And yet, as noted by pollsters monitoring the pulse of modern culture, something very strange has happened. Instead of the complete demise of religious belief and spiritual practice as predicted by the “God Is Dead” proponents, survey results by social scientists indicate just the opposite. During the 1990s and carrying forward into the 21st century, there has been a significant INCREASE in religiosity and belief in God.
This resurgence is not limited to any one religion or geographic region. Certainly the popularity of Islam in the east and fundamental Christianity in Africa and South America are major contributors to this trend. The New Age movement of the late 20th century attracted many followers to nontraditional approaches to spirituality. But the phenomenon seems deeper and broader than any of these specific manifestations and appears to be capable of persisting into the distant future.
Friedrich Nietzsche not withstanding, we are still left with the perennial big questions?
- Is there God?
- And if so, what is our relationship to the Divine?
- Why does something exist rather than nothing at all?
- What is the source of the universe? Was it created by God?
- And if there is a Creator, why must we Search for God? Is God hiding?
- Or is God an absentee landlord that created a grand cosmos and then withdrew, leaving it to run its natural course, as some philosophers have surmised?
After all, the Biblical Psalmist observed that wherever we are, wherever we go, we are always in the presence of God. If we cannot exist outside the realm of the divine, how can it be that God must be sought out? If there is a God, why all the contradictions in the various religions? And even outright warfare at times in the name God or a religious doctrine?
Edgar Cayce and the Search for God
We will be exploring these, and many other questions in the sections that follow from the perspective of the 20th American mystic Edgar Cayce (1877-1945). On an almost daily basis, Cayce entered a self-induced altered state of consciousness that allowed him to answer questions of almost any nature ranging from medical conditions to the origin and nature of the cosmos. His psychic dissertations became known as “readings” and were assigned numbers to protect the privacy of those who sought his guidance.
During the course of his career as a psychic, Cayce experienced many extremes, often related to the broader social and cultural milieu of his era. During the roaring 20s his work was greatly influenced by successful businessmen with a flair for high finance and grandiose vision.
With the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent great depression, Cayce witnessed the closing of his hospital in Virginia Beach and the struggle of his Association for Research and Enlightenment. These were desperate and trying times for Cayce and those around him desiring that his work be carried on. It seemed that all could be lost with regard to this enterprise.
It was in September 1931 when a group of Cayce’s supporters, ordinary people with a desire to be of service, approached Cayce, seeking a way forward in those troubled times. Some of those individuals simply wanted to work more directly with Cayce’s psychic information – to become more spiritual and develop their own psychic abilities. Others were more focused on bringing light and love to a distressed world.
This is where the story takes a fascinating turn with powerful implications. Instead of simply giving psychic readings to provide information, Edgar Cayce’s psychic process approached the challenge from a different direction. The model was to provide just enough information and guidance for the members of the group to work with in their daily lives.
Each person prayed, meditated, and applied the material in the midst of life while making notes and meeting to discuss their findings. Thus, rather than relying on an authoritative source that dictates a rigid and demanding doctrine, the individuals were encouraged to take personal responsibility for the outcome as part of a group process.
The themes of personal empowerment and small group dynamics were two of the innovations established by Cayce during this period of adjustment as a world struggled with the great economic depression. The idea of a search for God as a personal process carried out within a small group of peers is central to the Cayce approach as we shall see in the sections that follow.
The entire interactive process lasted until 1942, encompassing 130 readings, and eventually resulting in the compilation and publication of “A Search For God – Books I and II. Subsequently other authors have created supplementary works to expand upon the interactive process began in 1931. This work is just another in the long line of materials seeking to complement and reinterpret the original material in a more modern, universal format.
A Search for God
Predictably, the content and style of the “A Search for God” books reflected the beliefs and attitudes of the members of that initial group, the Norfolk Study Group #1, as they came to be called. Since the Norfolk Study Group #1 was comprised primarily of Christians of a fundamental persuasion, the text of the books reflected a strong Christian bias in language and symbols.
This is also consistent with the background of Edgar Cayce himself who was born and raised in the Bible Belt of America, taught Sunday School regularly, and read the Christian Bible completely through once for each year of his life. But the Cayce readings do include a broader perspective that is inclusive of other spiritual traditions, encouraging individuals to participate in a religion of their choice.
In fact, A Search for God does not require any involvement in organized religion. It involves walking on a spiritual path in daily life, wherever that may lead. In the decades that have followed the work of the Norfolk Study Group #1, hundreds of study groups have been formed affecting the lives of thousands of individuals who have worked with this gradual, orderly approach to spiritual awakening. It’s grounded in the experiences of daily life and simple spiritual practices: prayer, meditation, and service.
Cayce’s readings frequently remind us that soul development most often occurs in small increments – here a little, there a little, line upon line, brick by brick, precept upon precept – it’s the little things that count as we patiently move closer to the Creator. The search for God is like climbing a stairway to heaven, one step at a time, building on previous lessons – with a solid foundation leading to a spiritual awakening.
How To Use This Material
The Cayce approach to spiritual awakening and a search for God is not theoretical – it is an applied approach. The process involves both inner work and outer application. The inner work is primarily prayer and meditation. The outer application involves service to others in the midst of daily life.
In recognition of the varied levels of interest and experience of the individuals studying this material, the course itself is presented at various levels. The video segments for each lesson will tend to provide background and an overview of each topic. This will help orient newcomers to the Cayce approach and create a level playing field for those who wish to work with the concepts in a group process. For each lesson there are supplementary written materials that can be downloaded or viewed online for those interested in a deeper (or more expansive) treatment of the subject.
The lessons are sequential, each one building on the applied knowledge learned in previous lessons. So do them in order and take time between lessons to do the exercises and apply the information in your daily life. The weekly meetings of a typical study group has this built in, natural rhythm to help keep you on track. If you are doing the program on your own, take your time and work through it in order and patience. Or as the readings advised: “make haste slowly.” The next step in this journey is to study the information on prayer and meditation before beginning lesson #1: Cooperation.