Looking Under the Hood of Spiritual Guidance
by Henry Reed
A group game developed by the author provides not only
insights into the guidance process, but also the benefits of multiple
guidance sources and points of view, with help for evaluating outcomes.
"Seeking spiritual guidance" implies looking for answers from sources
outside ourselves maybe even from a "mystical" kind of source. We may
realize that guidance can come from "within," yet we find something
attractive about information that comes from "a higher source." We may even
understand that information from an outside source is always "channeled"
through ourselves. Yet such metaphors from the three-dimensional world
higher and lower, inner and outer can easily confuse us about our
relationship to the source of all information. As a result, it becomes more
difficult to teach people the nuances of Edgar Cayce's advice about seeking
In simplest terms, we are advised to get more than one reading on the
same question and correlate the results. Following this suggestion from Edgar
Cayce automatically puts people in the seat of responsibility to evaluate the
guidance received, looking for patterns. They are likely to recognize how
their own intuition comes into play when they correlate information from
various "readings" and try to create their own conclusions and hypotheses for
testing. They don't see as readily that this same intuitive involvement is
present when they get only one reading. Instead, they tend to attribute all
the guiding information to the "outside" source.
My book, Channeling Your Higher Self, explains in some detail that,
even when guidance information seems to be totally independent of your own
self from an outside source such as a psychic or Tarot reading, for example
you are still implicated in the information. Intuition involves correlating
patterns in the data, making a connection between the less understood and the
more understood. As we try to interpret statements by the psychic, we call
upon our own experience.
This limitation in experience is easier to recognize in someone else.
If you're discussing with a friend her first-ever reading, you probably see
that she understands portions of the information in too naive a manner, or
that she fails to recognize the accuracy of something the psychic said
because she can't recognize that truth about herself. We cannot avoid our own
participation in receiving spiritual guidance, even from "outside.".
To clarify the role of the elements involved in spiritual guidance, I
developed a game I call "Sharing Wisdom." I use it in my classes on
divination to help students realize that answers don't simply appear to us
without our own involvement. The steps of the game are described and
illustrated below. Readers may try this game with a group of friends. It
would make an excellent learning experience for a Search for God group, for
Provide an "old wisdom" source. The only special material needed for
this game, besides three containers and some blank paper, is a source of
available "wisdom statements." One such source is the collection of theme
statements associated with the 64 I Ching hexagrams, a version of which is
provided in Mark Thurston's book, Synchronicity as Spiritual Guidance. The I
Ching (The Book of Change) is a distillation of ageless wisdom much used in
divination activities. You may also create a set of wisdom statements with
Cayce excerpts using pages from the Cayce booklets Think on These Things or
Quiet Thoughts. In many bookstores, you can find sets of divination cards
with short statements (such as "Re-MIND-er" cards based on Neal Donald
Walsch's Conversations with God) or with single words (such as "Angel Oracle"
by Sulamith Wlfing). Provide a set of available wisdom statements in which
you have great confidence. Put those into one container labeled "Perennial
In the steps that follow, one person in the group facilitates the
process. In the illustrations below from my classes, I am the facilitator. I
address the steps to "you" as one of the participating players.
Phase One (all players simultaneously but privately)
Create "new wisdom" source. The facilitator begins the game by asking
you and the other players to create your own wisdom statements. You are to
pretend you are going to prepare a legacy of wisdom for future generations.
Let your memories and imagination mingle and flow, and then review what
you've learned from dealing with adversities, confusing situations, and
difficult times. You are guided into deeper meditation where you are to ask
the higher self to give you a statement that could be used by future
generations for guidance during difficult times. After coming out of the
meditation, you write your statement down. Statements from all players are
then put in a second container marked "Answers to Life's Questions."
Prepare personal question. Next, you and the other players are each
to formulate a specific personal question on which you would like to receive
spiritual guidance. The questions will be used anonymously, so you may ask
significant personal questions. In fact, questions that have a real "need to
know" quality will be the ones that get the best information, in contrast to
hypothetical questions ("How many angels can dance on a dime?), impersonal
questions ("How will Y2K problems affect the stock market?"), or questions
focused on a third party ("When will my son get a job?"). Questions should
focus on personal concerns and how one should best proceed. The questions
above might be better as, "How can I learn to see angels?" or "How can I
protect myself from adverse affects of the Y2K problem?" or "How can I help
my son get a job?" The best questions concern you yourself and ask about
specific attitude or behavior changes that can be tried out in the immediate
future and related to a specific goal.
In the steps that follow, I will use as an example a question from a
player in one of my classes: "What attitudes or behaviors can I change in
myself to get more pleasure and meaning from my job?" The example will be
presented in smaller italics to separate it from the process steps.
Seek answer from inner wise person. In another brief meditation, you
are guided to pose your personal question to your higher self. Imagine being
in the presence of a teacher or spiritual wisdom figure such as Jesus, Edgar
Cayce, or Buddha. To this wise presence, you silently ask the question you
have written down and imagine what that figure might say in response.
Sharpen your question. After you have received an answer, think about
whether or not you are satisfied with the answer, or if you realize you
didn't quite ask the question you really want answered. Maybe you have a
For example, in response to the question about getting more pleasure
from the job, let's say Buddha answered, "Keep your focus on the immediate
moment, the here and now that is where you will find pleasure and
enlightenment." That answer has merits for most situations and caused the
questioner to realize that he was rarely "in the moment" at work, but was
instead distancing himself from work and thus cutting himself off from any
pleasure that might come his way from the job. The answer also made him
realize that the real problem was that he wanted to leave that job for
another one, but seemed blocked to take any action. So he wanted to revise
his question to, "What change in attitude or behavior on my part will enable
me to move myself into a job more to my liking?" He writes this as his
question, pocketing the previous question.
Reflecting upon your question and imagining an answer is an important
step in preparing for guidance. The step reflects one of Cayce's principles
about guidance: to apply what you know before expecting to receive more.
Also, if you attempt to answer your own question, you will be able to revise
your question to the very edge of your understanding. That effort seems to
pave the way for better guidance.
Pool questions. When your question has been written in final form,
fold the paper and write a mark or code word on the outside of the folded
paper to identify it only to you. This will insure that you do not draw your
own question later. All questions are put into a third container marked
Pray for attunement. Next you are guided to pray that you will be so
attuned to your source of highest wisdom that you will be able to provide
helpful guidance to the person whose question you will draw. You ask to be
guided to draw the question for which you can offer the most helpful guidance.
Phase Two (one player at a time completes the following steps)
Draw question. Assume you are the first player. You draw a question
from the "Life's Questions" container, making sure from the outside mark that
you have not drawn your own. You will provide three sources of guidance for
the "target question" you hold, followed by an evaluation. You do not look at
the question until after the next step.
Give reading on question. First, you are guided by the facilitator to
offer an Intuitive Heart reading for your unopened target question. This
method is based upon Edgar Cayce's premise that the best guidance we can
provide another person is to speak from one's own experience. In the
Intuitive Heart process, you first meditate briefly, then make a heart
connection with the unopened target question. People can easily imagine
reaching out with the heart to embrace the question, drawing it into their
heart. At that point, you are asked to trust your intuitive heart to bring
into your awareness a memory from a past experience. Trust in the flow of
your experience so you can set the ego aside. Rather than search for a
"suitable" memory, you allow a memory to spontaneously appear in your
awareness. It is like a divination procedure in which you would draw a card
at random, but in this case, the random event is the memory that appears in
Describe memory to group. You then describe your memory aloud, as if
telling a story about a past experience. You "search your heart for wisdom"
and explore possible wisdom in the story. Speaking extemporaneously "from the
heart," you think out loud about the lesson you find for yourself from that
Read target question and evaluate connection. Now you open the target
question and read it aloud to the group. Everyone writes the target question
and follows it with an evaluation of the connection between the question and
the memory-plus-lesson you have just expressed. How well did it fit the
question? Did the advice seem sound, valid, useful? Everyone writes at least
one sentence of evaluation, and scores the reading from 0 to a perfect 10.
The person who asked the question, still anonymous, also makes a written
Continuing with the illustration about a job change, the player who
drew the question told of a memory involving leaving the parental home, the
memory image of hugging mom and dad goodbye on their front porch, then
walking suitcase in hand toward his car to drive off to a nearby city where
he had a new job and an apartment. He said that, for him, the lesson in this
memory is that starting something new brings the sadness of saying goodbye to
the familiar, that the comfortable support system must be released in order
to embrace the new, and that although sad or even scary it's necessary to
the growth process.
Pray, select new wisdom statement, and continue evaluation.
Continuing the process, the group joins in a brief prayer that you will
choose the most appropriate piece of wisdom for the target question. Then you
reach into the container with "Answers to Life's Questions" and draw out one
slip of paper. Read aloud the wisdom written on the paper. Then once again,
all players including you write an evaluation statement and rate the
connection 0-10 as before.
In our example about the job change, the wisdom that was drawn out
read, "When facing a difficult decision, recall times when you felt full of
love, bring that love into your awareness, and then follow the path that is
most consistent with that love feeling."
Pray, select old wisdom statement, and continue evaluation. Just as
in the preceding step, the group prays you will choose the most appropriate
statement for the target question. Then you draw a card or slip from the
"Perennial Wisdom" container and read it aloud. Everyone writes an evaluation
of its connection to the question.
In our example, we used the I Ching statements photocopied from
Thurston's book, cut into individual slips of paper, and put into the
container labeled "Perennial Wisdom." The player targeting the job question
drew this I Ching theme statement from the container: "Timely Change: The
time draws near for radical change in the way you present yourself to the
world. Like an animal that sheds its skin in due season, your new self is
ready to come forth. If you try to remain stable on what has been solid in
the past, you will lose your equilibrium. Accept the disruptions before you
now as purposeful, creative revolution."
When this was read to the group, there was an audible gasp in the
room. It seemed so connected to the question and to the player's Intuitive
Heart reading about leaving home. Here was a clear case of synchronicity!
Prepare summary of guidance for target question. Now that all three
sources of guidance have been shared and evaluated for your target question,
all players prepare a written statement summarizing their interpretation of
the guidance, pointing out which source had the most accurate, important, or
usable guidance. The player who originally wrote the target question claims
it in his or her written evaluation, together with a statement about how the
guidance from the overall process might be applied.
Share summaries anonymously. The facilitator reads all the final
evaluations for the target question aloud, but anonymously so no one knows
who asked the target question or who wrote which summary.
When I read the summaries aloud for the illustrative job change
question, they favored the Intuitive Heart reading and the I Ching. Comments
favoring the Intuitive Heart reading focused on the imagery that pointed to
fear in the person wanting a job change, an element that was clear in the
telling of the story of leaving home. Those favoring the I Ching focused on
the archetypal imagery of the shedding of skin, as well as the element of
fear. The "Answers to Life's Questions" slip concerning the path of love
seemed valid, but too general to be useful.
It was noteworthy that everyone but the originator of the question
pointed out the fear element in the two preferred readings. The originator
saw the guidances as saying "Go for it!" In the discussion, the originator
came to realize he did indeed have some fear about making a change. He
voluntarily identified himself as the originator and engaged in some
discussion with the player who provided the reading about leaving home and
how he had found his current job to be like a home, admitting he hadn't
realized how much that feeling was holding him back. He hadn't recognized the
fear nor responded to that aspect of the player's story until the rest of the
group focused on it. The group recognized information in the reading that the
original questioner didn't see for himself.
Repeat all the guidance steps for each target question and player.
After sharing aloud the summaries, the game moves to a second player, who
draws a new target question from the "Life's Questions" container. The player
proceeds through the steps of an Intuitive Heart reading and guidance from
"Answers to Life's Questions" and "Perennial Wisdom," leading to brief
evaluations and a final summary. This process repeats itself until guidance
has been given for all questions.
Looking Under the Hood
The guidance game enables us to "look under the hood" of the vehicle
to see how the various parts of the guidance "engine" work. Clearly an
element of synchronicity affects which items are drawn "at random." Comparing
the I Ching slip with the "wisdom" slip created by one of the players, we can
see the dimension of the "quality of wisdom" or the "level of the mind" from
which the advice comes. The wisdom from the I Ching is of a greater caliber
than that of the wisdom provided by the player, which, although valid, is a
bit trite, making it easy to be over-general.
As guidance, the Intuitive Heart reading differs significantly from
the I Ching. The former involved the element of attunement or telepathy
between the reader and the question, or between the reader and the person
asking the question, whereas the I Ching or other "Perennial Wisdom" cards
involved only the element of synchronicity.
In the example, the I Ching provided a more-articulated piece of
wisdom than the player, yet the player's piece of wisdom was certainly
consistent with the I Ching. What the player lacked was perhaps the
experience or the eloquence to turn the personal memory into a universal
statement. What the player contributed, however, through his connection with
the question/questioner was a personal element that helped accentuate the
fear component in the situation. The two sources complemented one another,
but the personal reading brought out another dimension to seeking guidance.
Everyone but the questioner himself recognized the important role fear was
playing in holding the questioner in his old job. The questioner himself
didn't see that in the information until afterwards in the discussion. Here
we can see how the questioner plays a role in perceiving the guidance. The
group didn't see the guidance as simply saying, "Go for it!" as the
questioner had assumed, but as saying more specifically, "Fear may be
natural, but face it and let it go, so you can move on!"
The "Sharing Wisdom" game allows players to begin recognizing the
role of telepathy or attunement, level of wisdom, and questioner readiness to
perceive truth, all contributing elements in getting spiritual guidance. In
my experience, playing this game enables participants to gain a better
perspective on the guidance process and to eliminate some of the mystique
associated with various oracle or divination systems and those who use them
to give psychic readings or to obtain spiritual guidance.