In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, stringent lockdowns and mask mandates were implemented in an effort to control this virus. The Arizona Department of Education reacted to the mandates and limited our room occupancy to 5 or less individuals. Our core attendance at the time was 15, hence the mandates kept us from meeting at the Rio Salado College complex. We were very thankful to the Unity Spiritual Center of Sun City for allowing us to use their facility and continue to meet as we had done for so many years

Our core group had studied the A Search for God books multiple times, so between the A Search for God chapters, we opted to include videos dealing with Spirituality and humanity issues that paralleled the subjects we were studying.   

To address, and better define spirituality, we began by showing the video “An Introduction to Sufism” by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Additional videos on religious reformation were shown to introduce us to ways other people made changes while embracing spiritual principles. Joseph Graber’s series on “Breaking the Silence” gave us an insight into the struggles some Amish endured as they sought to escape old traditional rules and regulations. We found that similar conditions exist in other religious groups, such as the Hasidic Jews and their social seclusion issue. This encouraged us to focus on the veneer of change as we believed that ultimately change is an evolution in awareness. To expand on this particular, we chose to look into the New Age movement by showing David Icke’s video, “Truth About Consciousness and Spirituality.”  

Psychology was instrumental as we sought to better understand the language in the A Search for God books. The “Know Thyself” chapter pointed out that we need; “…to know ourselves as entities, complete factors, capable of knowing all that goes on within and without.” This “within and without,” can easily be explained at a superficial level, but as we took into account karma and the unconscious influences of our environment, we waver somewhat. To better understand this point of view, we showed a video by Krista Tippett, “Reconnecting with Compassion” which pointed out the need for emotional surrender, and to value people from the way they live and love, rather than the words they speak. “Opportunities Lost” a video by Daniel H. Pink recounted how our life’s unresolved regrets can derail our behavior. And last, but not least, we viewed an interesting presentation by Brené Brown, “The Power of Vulnerability” which helped us to understand our own inadequacies, while showing us ways to gather the courage for overcoming. Our group, being composed of senior citizens, welcomed this approach and enjoyed the friendly environment it provided. Individuals freely shared present life experiences that supported their healthy aging, and yearned for information on transitioning and the soul’s purpose. They welcomed the freedom to speak out, knowing that they would not be censured. The only requirement we imposed, was that whatever was said, it needed to be spoken in a respectful manner. This candid dialog inspired confidence and showed us how much we all have in common.  

This sharing of ideas also unveiled that the world today is facing many ongoing issues. Social conflicts within groups and/or ideas, have been with us from the beginning of time. Religions speak of them as struggles between “good and evil,” psychology explains them as the “integration of opposites.” The Cayce readings instead, viewed these conflicts as a lack of “Oneness,” emphasizing that oneness is a universal principle. One God. One Power. 

Oneness of mind Oneness of purpose” was often stressed in the Cayce readings. This was clearly emphasized in the readings on Atlantis as they recounted the extreme measures the Atlanteans went through to achieve oneness and preserve it for future generations. They so valued this concept that they encrypted it in the Great Pyramid at Giza, in such ways that only an “enlightened one” will interpret and comprehend the universality of its meaning. The readings further point out that it was the lack of this oneness that destroyed Atlantis. We ultimately concluded that a more positive outcome can be achieved by awakening our inner spirit and become emissaries of the “Oneness.” Our group felt that too many rules and regulations only limit creativity and knowledge, thus we chose reasoning as the way to self-understanding. For spirit is an inner quality of character sewn in our soul by God, just waiting to be aroused through personal action and choices, “… not all just to be good, but good FOR something.” 

Yes, we were affected by the pandemic, but we viewed the setback as a personal challenge to be overcome through debate, not a “laissez-faire” attitude. We accepted the fact that life is full of uncertainties, some of which being beyond our control. But we were confident that intuition provided the best approach, for it grants us our own understanding of growth, and experience the miracle of enlightenment in our own little world. This, we maintained, is the life-long quest necessary for personal and soul development, for in the end, we must become fully aware of our unrestricted soul potential and experience who and what WE needed to be.      

“… in the present comes much of those contending forces in many various lands, much of the contending forces as have to do with the various differentiations between mysticism, occult influences, and those of the spiritual awakening in individuals. The spirit makes alive. 

The mystic may be a way, but may lead to contortion of the very ideal itself. 

Occult may lead to an awakening, but may be driven by other forces than spiritual.  

The spirit gives life.”

- Edgar Cayce reading 358-3

During the mandates we pictured “The spirit gives life” as “Creative Energy in motion.” We accepted the fact that Spirit does manifests itself in various ways, and viewed ourselves as free expressions of “life” existing amid trying social conditions, ― each in our own form and purpose. We followed the readings’ advice on virus protection, but did not hesitate to act upon what we felt was constructive and healthy. During the transitioning, common sense not extremes, kept us on track and introduced us to new coping strategies, thus we avoided long term negative consequences and we reaped a new vision of life. 

By the way, we also learned that when a dialogue gets too heavy; laughter is the best medicine.

Written by Robert & Rose Ferro, Phoenix Arizona
Former study group coordinators and team coordinators. Facilitators of the Rio Salado College A Search for God group for seniors.