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The Experience of Divine Guidance
A Qualitative Study of the Human Endeavor to
Seek, Receive, and Follow Guidance
from a P...
The History of Divine Guidance
• Descriptions of the experience
are recorded in the Religious
Narratives and Spiritual
Tea...
Prophets, Mystics and Saints
• Moses
• Jesus
• Muhammad
• Buddha
• Joan of Arc
• Jalal al-Din Rumi
• Rabbi Joseph Caro
• W...
Artists, Philosophers and Poets
• Michelangelo
• William Edmondson
• Socrates
• Teilhard de Chardin
• William Blake
• John...
Scientists, Warriors and
World Leaders
• Emmanuel Swedenborg
• George Washington Caver
• General George Patton
• Winston C...
Primary Research Intention
The primary intention of this study has been to
Explore and Map the Territory
of the experience...
Research Question
What are some of the
experiential structures,
patterns, and qualities of the
subjective experience of
di...
Research Stance
The foundation of the methodological approach of this
inquiry has been the basic research stance of attemp...
Research Methods
• Heuristic Research
• Spiritual Inquiry
• Grounded Theory
Phases of Inquiry
• Researcher Heuristic and Spiritual
Self-Inquiry
• Semi-Structured In-Depth
Interviews with Coresearche...
Researcher Self-Inquiry
• Topic Immersion
– Researcher immersion in the literature
• Self-Reflection
– Researcher self-ref...
Self-Inquiry Results
Thematic Patterns
• Narrative Quality of
Experience
• Basic Categories of
Experience: Seeking,
Receiv...
Interviews
• Interview Format
– Individual (One on One)
– Semi-Structured
– In-Depth
• Interview Stance
– Interview as Hol...
Coresearchers
CR1 Psychosynthesis Practitioner (M) Psychosynthesis
CR2 Sufi Sheikh (M) Islam/Sufism
CR3 Native American Sh...
Interview Data
• Audio Transcripts • Video Recordings
“My experience is that
when you walk this path
…seeking to be relate...
Data Analysis and Treatment
• Transcription, Editing,
and Review of
Interview Data
• Content Coding
• Code-to-Code
Relatio...
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Changed by
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leads...
Findings
• Structures of Experience
• Metaphors of Divine Encounter
• Resonant Learning
• Guidance on the Path of Inquiry
Changed by
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lack of leads to
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lea...
Categories of Experience
is associated withis associated with
Leads to
is cause of
Leads to
Leads to
Following
Receiving
S...
Source
• Attributes
– Various Inherent Characteristics
– “My perception of God is [that] He or She is
very, very close” (C...
Seeking
• Preparation
– Perceived need for self-preparation, and sense
of being prepared.
• Purification
– Perceived need ...
Receiving
• Form of Communication
– 23 Reported Forms: Perceptual Shift, Felt-Sense, Insight,
Thought-Sense, Inner Voice, ...
Following
• Effects
– 51 Reported Effects: Perceptual Shift, Purification,
Heart-Opening, Changes in Personal Constructs, ...
Factors of the Experience
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Cont...
Contributing Factors
• Experiences of Insight
• Relationship to Source
• Experiences of Calling
• Religious Experiences
• ...
Impeding Factors
• Personal Constructs
– “Everybody is operating
out of a cosmology...
a philosophy of life...
a model of ...
Developmental Factors
• Relationship to Source
– “Developing my relationship with God is my primary objective.”
(CR4)
• De...
Mediating Factors
• Effort and Grace
– “You probably can’t seek unless you have some sense that
there’s something calling ...
Mapping the Experience
Guidance Experience Template
REMOVING THE OBSTACLES
Seeking
DISCERNING
THE MESSAGE
Following
Source
CONTINUOUS
TRANSMISSION
OPENING
THE CHANNELS
Receiv...
Metaphors of Divine Encounter
METAPHORS THEMES
Divine Flow, Inner River Connecting with a Flow
Divine Gravity Connecting w...
Resonant Learning
“We’re going to elevate this conversation to the place that is speaking
from an open heart where divine ...
Guidance on the Path of Inquiry
“I talked with God one morning and He led me to [the discovery of the clay].”
– George Was...
Applications
• Guidance Experience
Template
• Guidance Experience
Evaluation Checklist
• Synthesized Guidance
Practice
– D...
The Experience of Divine Guidance
A Qualitative Study of the Human Endeavor to Seek, Receive,
and Follow Guidance from a P...
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The Experience of Divine Guidance

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The Experience of Divine Guidance is a presentation given at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in June of 2005 presenting the research findings of the doctoral dissertation "The Experience of Divine Guidance: A Qualitative Study of the Human Endeavor to Seek, Receive, and Follow Guidance from a Perceived Divine Source" - Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D., Dissertation Abstracts International, 2005, 66 (05), 2855. (UMI No. 3174544).

ABSTRACT: This research study examined the experience of seeking, receiving, and following guidance from a perceived source of divine wisdom. Nine advanced spiritual teachers (5 men and 4 women) from 7 spiritual traditions participated as coresearchers in this study. Coresearchers were North American or European born, predominantly Caucasian, California (USA) residents between the ages of 52 and 74. Coresearcher participation consisted of individual semistructured in-depth interviews. The questions and topics of discussion used for the interviews were developed through a process of researcher heuristic and spiritual self-inquiry. The results of a grounded-theory-based qualitative content analysis of the interview transcripts suggested that the experience of divine guidance, as measured in the current study, is characterized by a common structuring of the experience that includes general categories, factors, and patterns which appear to manifest into various particular and contextual forms depending on the individual person, event, and circumstance. The reported common structures of the experience included: The perception of a divine source of guidance; the experience of seeking, receiving, and following guidance from this perceived source; and various contributing, impeding, developmental, and mediating factors. Additionally, each coresearcher reported a unique metaphor of divine encounter that appeared to give them an archetypal and visceral way of describing and holding the experience. The researcher appeared to experience each of the coresearcher’s metaphors of divine encounter through some kind of resonant learning or mimicking process. A Guidance Experience Template, Guidance Experience Evaluation Checklist, and Synthesized Guidance Practice were developed as aids to counselors, practitioners, and researchers exploring the experience of divine guidance. The findings of this study, and the development and implementation of guidance-related applications in this research, may advance the understanding of this common and historically significant human experience, and offer a valuable contribution to the fields of transpersonal psychology, spiritual guidance, and spiritual psychology.

The complete dissertation is available from Google Play at: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mark_Allan_Kaplan_The_Experience_of_Divine_Guidanc?id=rFVSllZP1c0C

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The Experience of Divine Guidance

  1. 1. The Experience of Divine Guidance A Qualitative Study of the Human Endeavor to Seek, Receive, and Follow Guidance from a Perceived Divine Source Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.
  2. 2. The History of Divine Guidance • Descriptions of the experience are recorded in the Religious Narratives and Spiritual Teachings of most traditions and cultures. • Descriptions have also been found in Biographical and Autobiographical Reports of individuals throughout human history who claimed to have sought, received, and followed guidance from a perceived divine source…
  3. 3. Prophets, Mystics and Saints • Moses • Jesus • Muhammad • Buddha • Joan of Arc • Jalal al-Din Rumi • Rabbi Joseph Caro • Wallace Black Elk
  4. 4. Artists, Philosophers and Poets • Michelangelo • William Edmondson • Socrates • Teilhard de Chardin • William Blake • John Keats • Robert Lewis Stevenson • Rudyard Kipling
  5. 5. Scientists, Warriors and World Leaders • Emmanuel Swedenborg • George Washington Caver • General George Patton • Winston Churchill • Mohandas Gandhi • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  6. 6. Primary Research Intention The primary intention of this study has been to Explore and Map the Territory of the experience of divine guidance
  7. 7. Research Question What are some of the experiential structures, patterns, and qualities of the subjective experience of divine guidance, as experienced by selected advanced spiritual teachers?
  8. 8. Research Stance The foundation of the methodological approach of this inquiry has been the basic research stance of attempting to allow the Divine to lead this inquiry, through the application of various divine guidance practices and techniques…in order to: • Establish coherence between the topic of inquiry and the method of inquiry • Deepen researcher understanding of the topic of inquiry • Attempt to capture the experience through the replication of the conditions under which it has been known to occur.
  9. 9. Research Methods • Heuristic Research • Spiritual Inquiry • Grounded Theory
  10. 10. Phases of Inquiry • Researcher Heuristic and Spiritual Self-Inquiry • Semi-Structured In-Depth Interviews with Coresearchers • Grounded-Theory-Based Data Analysis and Treatment
  11. 11. Researcher Self-Inquiry • Topic Immersion – Researcher immersion in the literature • Self-Reflection – Researcher self-reflection through the creation of a spiritual autobiography • Self-Experimentation – Researcher self-experimentation with 40 guidance-related methods and practices
  12. 12. Self-Inquiry Results Thematic Patterns • Narrative Quality of Experience • Basic Categories of Experience: Seeking, Receiving, and Following • Common Patterns and Core Issues: – Contributing Factors – Tools and Practices – Forms of Communication – Qualities of Experience – Discernment – Obstacles – Incorporation – Surrender – Effects
  13. 13. Interviews • Interview Format – Individual (One on One) – Semi-Structured – In-Depth • Interview Stance – Interview as Holy Encounter – Coresearcher as Divine Other (I-Thou) – Ritualization of Process and Sanctification of Self, Environment, and Audio-Video Recording Technologies • Interview Questions – Developed from Self-Inquiry Themes
  14. 14. Coresearchers CR1 Psychosynthesis Practitioner (M) Psychosynthesis CR2 Sufi Sheikh (M) Islam/Sufism CR3 Native American Shaman (F) Lakota Sioux CR4 Kabbalist Rabbi (M) Judaism CR5 Catholic Nun (F) Christianity CR6 Catholic Priest (M) Christianity CR7 Course in Miracles Teacher (M) Course in Miracles CR8 Self-Realization Minister (F) Hinduism CR9 Congregational Rabbi (F) Judaism
  15. 15. Interview Data • Audio Transcripts • Video Recordings “My experience is that when you walk this path …seeking to be related to Spirit, seeking to receive, and seeking to follow… the Spirits come to us in the most blessed way possible.” (CR3)
  16. 16. Data Analysis and Treatment • Transcription, Editing, and Review of Interview Data • Content Coding • Code-to-Code Relationship Mapping • Semantic Network Mapping
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  18. 18. Findings • Structures of Experience • Metaphors of Divine Encounter • Resonant Learning • Guidance on the Path of Inquiry
  19. 19. Changed by == == == [] lack of leads to == == == == isa == == == == == isa == == == leads to == == leads to isa isa == leads to == == == == Changed by => isa =>== isa == isa == == [] == == leads to leads to leads to leads to == == == == == == == == == == isa == == isa == == == == == == == leads to == == == == == leads to == == == == == == isa== == == leads to ==leads to == == == == == == [] == == isa == == leads to Changed by == == == == leads to == isa == == lack of leads to == isa == [] == == == == == == isa [] == == == leads to == == == == == == == == == == => Changed by == == == Discernment Following Form Effects Incorporation Qualities Receiving Seeking Source Tools-Practices Content~ Preparation Purification Attributes Activities Motives Contributing Factors Developmental-Factors~ Impeding-Factors~ Mediating-Factors~ Faith Surrender Will Effort-and-Grace~Life-Experience/Events~ Set-Setting~ Transcendent Education Obstacles Personal Constructs Contributing-Factors-EXT~ Contributing-Factors-INT~ Structures of Experience
  20. 20. Categories of Experience is associated withis associated with Leads to is cause of Leads to Leads to Following Receiving Seeking Source
  21. 21. Source • Attributes – Various Inherent Characteristics – “My perception of God is [that] He or She is very, very close” (CR1) • Motives – Various Intentions – “God the merciful and benevolent” (CR2) • Activities – Various Functions and Actions – “God had put a fresh heart in me” (CR5) “Do my conceptions of the Divine help me come into relationship, or do they make me withdraw and stay away?” (CR1)
  22. 22. Seeking • Preparation – Perceived need for self-preparation, and sense of being prepared. • Purification – Perceived need for self-purification, and sense of being purified. • Practices – 19 Reported Practices: Practicing Attributes, Prayer and Blessings, Discernment, Meditation, Studying Sacred Texts, etc. “Part of the pattern would be the seeking…and/or those incredible moments of God just coming and seeking me.” (CR5)
  23. 23. Receiving • Form of Communication – 23 Reported Forms: Perceptual Shift, Felt-Sense, Insight, Thought-Sense, Inner Voice, etc. • Content of Communication – 10 Reported Types of Content: Direction, Information, Shift in Perception, Authorization, Behavior Modification, etc. • Qualities of Experience – 30 Reported Qualities: Sense of Perceptual Shift, Heart- Opening, Interconnectedness, Light, Presence, etc. “When...something...comes over you and alters your understanding or your perspective, and puts you in a different time and place [it] is a clear indication...you’re receiving something from a higher level.” (CR4)
  24. 24. Following • Effects – 51 Reported Effects: Perceptual Shift, Purification, Heart-Opening, Changes in Personal Constructs, etc. • Discernment – 9 Reported Discernment Elements: Commitment to Practicing Discernment, the Removal of Obstacles, Recurrent Inquiry, Test and Compare, etc. • Incorporation – 16 Reported Incorporation Elements: Attunement Practices, Inner Listening, Inspired Action, etc. “I think one thing is listening and the other thing is following; to realize I’m not in control and I want to follow.” (CR7)
  25. 25. Factors of the Experience == == == == leads to == == == == == == == == => leads to == => == == ==== == leads to == == Contributing Factors Developmental-Factors~ Impeding-Factors~ Mediating-Factors~ Following Receiving Seeking Source
  26. 26. Contributing Factors • Experiences of Insight • Relationship to Source • Experiences of Calling • Religious Experiences • Exceptional Human Experiences • Predisposition • Life Experiences • Spiritual Practices • Cultural Influences • Education and Study “From the beginning, one of the things that brought me into seeking as a child was being orphaned.” (CR3)
  27. 27. Impeding Factors • Personal Constructs – “Everybody is operating out of a cosmology... a philosophy of life... a model of reality... whether they bring it to consciousness or not... [and] it profoundly guides how we react and respond.” (CR6) • Obstacles – 21 Reported Obstacles: Ego, Lack of Awareness, Fear, Mental/Emotional Turmoil, Lack of Surrender, Attachment, etc. “There are several things that people do that create blockages or obstacles to receiving from other levels….If the mind and the emotions are not sublimated, they can be major interference factors.” (CR4)
  28. 28. Developmental Factors • Relationship to Source – “Developing my relationship with God is my primary objective.” (CR4) • Degree of Surrender – “Rather than a pursuing for me, it’s been a surrendering into it.” (CR9) • Degree of Faith – “You can put your faith, focus, and total attention [on] survival and to worshipping the material plane; or you can…focus on God…and develop spiritually.” (CR4) • Degree of Will/Willingness – “It was a continual lifting it up, saying “if this isn’t right take it away.” And there were times when I knew I was willing to do that.” (CR1)
  29. 29. Mediating Factors • Effort and Grace – “You probably can’t seek unless you have some sense that there’s something calling you, something to be sought.” (CR1) • Set and Setting – “If we want to regularly access the Divine Will, it’s about creating the kind of space in our lives where that can happen.” (CR6) • Life Experience and Events – “I think everything I've done in my life, even all the experiences that I thought I hated in growing up…have all been important…for me to have.” (CR7) • Transcendent Education – “Another pattern that keeps showing up...is that you’ll have an experience and...then the reoccurrence of it in different forms is just lifting you to a higher quality of knowing.” (CR3)
  30. 30. Mapping the Experience Guidance Experience Template
  31. 31. REMOVING THE OBSTACLES Seeking DISCERNING THE MESSAGE Following Source CONTINUOUS TRANSMISSION OPENING THE CHANNELS Receiving The Flow of the Experience Mapping the Experience
  32. 32. Metaphors of Divine Encounter METAPHORS THEMES Divine Flow, Inner River Connecting with a Flow Divine Gravity Connecting with a Field Divine Invitation Sensing Energetic Shifts Divine Vehicle, Pipeline Becoming a Conduit Dwelling Place Self-Sanctification Nature, Life as Guidance Intermediary Elements Divine Stillness Exclusion of Elements “It’s…like a river flowing deep within me that I could dip into at anytime.” (CR5)
  33. 33. Resonant Learning “We’re going to elevate this conversation to the place that is speaking from an open heart where divine guidance will flow through us and make a space for the Holy One to dwell.” (CR9) • Each of the coresearcher’s metaphors of divine encounter appeared to have been experientially transmitted to the researcher through some kind of “mimicking” or resonant interaction phenomenon. • This resonant learning phenomenon appeared to occur before, during and after each coresearcher interview.
  34. 34. Guidance on the Path of Inquiry “I talked with God one morning and He led me to [the discovery of the clay].” – George Washington Carver • The researcher tested 40 guidance-related self-experimentation methods and applied them to all aspects of this inquiry and the researcher’s everyday life. • While all tested methods appeared to have a significant effect, some methods seemed to have a greater perceived effect. • Familiarity, frequency, and duration of practice did not seem to be a significant factor in a methods perceived effect. • The methods that seemed more effective appeared to be more resonant with the researcher on some unconscious level.
  35. 35. Applications • Guidance Experience Template • Guidance Experience Evaluation Checklist • Synthesized Guidance Practice – Daily Purification Practice – Situational Guidance Meditation
  36. 36. The Experience of Divine Guidance A Qualitative Study of the Human Endeavor to Seek, Receive, and Follow Guidance from a Perceived Divine Source A Doctoral Dissertation by Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D. Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2005 Available at Google Play and Dissertations Abstracts Research Presentation, June 2005 Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, CA

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